KARLA BLACK TALKS TO VAI ABOUT HER SITE-SPECIFIC SCULPTURES, NOW ON SHOW AT THE IRISH MUSUEM OF MODERN ART (1 MAY – 26 JULY 2015).
Jason Oakley: You’re well known for your use of unconventional, colourful and decorative materials in your sculpture – including cosmetics, craft and decorative materials. What were some of your initial motivations of working in this way?
Karla Black: I made a decision early on to make sure I do what I want to do, and to use the materials and the colours that I want to use. I love powders, pastes, oils, creams and gels. I work out of a desire for materials and colours. At one particular moment I might want to see a very large amount of powder in a certain colour, so I’ll lay that out so that I can see it.
When I’m making a work, even a large work in a gallery space, it’s just like someone making a painting in their studio. What’s different is that, because the materials and structures in the finished work are often retarded in states of potential – in that they remain structurally and materially abstract, or raw or somewhat unformed – people can see the trace of my hand or my body, or the energy of a gesture still within them.
JO: What has appealed to you most about making work for IMMA?
KB: The best word I can think of to describe the reasons why I decide to make a particular work for a particular space is ‘practical’. The practical realities of the room or space offered to me determine what sculpture it would be possible to make there. I respond to a site in a very physical way. All I’m thinking about is what shape it is, where the door is – because that determines how people will first see the work – how much light there is and whether there is daylight or artificial light.