Jindřiška Jabůrková on Rubble & Weathered Buildings
Published August 30, 2023
Working with the transformation of materials to highlight matter as a living substance. We also speak about concrete, human hair, New materialsms and spirituality
What materials are you currently working with?
In my sculptural work, I currently work mostly with concrete and with materials that I find on the streets. At the same time, I use the media of photography and capture various objects and materials that I find during my explorations of the urban wilderness.
I am interested in the alchemy of the city, the intersections between man-made things and naturally formed objects. I work with waste material from construction sites and rubble. At this moment, I find a certain poetics in working with rubble, because they are materials that we as humans cared for in our homes and now they become waste for humans. At the same time, I find a certain poetics in the idea of the chemical structure of objects as well as the mineralogical structure inside our bodies. We can say with hyperbole that the construction of bones and the construction of buildings in which we live consists of similar elements. Let's imagine, for example silicon, which can be found in various forms and transformations, once in stone, in concrete, secondly in silicone, thirdly, for example, in the human body when it participates in metabolic processes, and fourthly in a computer chip. I like to work with the idea of the origin and continuation of the material, I am interested in where the material came from, how we relate to it as humans, its chemical composition and symbolic meaning in different cultures or from the ecology and politics of materials or even alchemy.
In this direction, I worked with human hair, soil and salt. I was thinking about human hair as a product that man creates, a material that he lets grow on himself. At the same time, I thought about hair as a material in which time is stored. And thirdly, I was inspired by the folk legend about witches who buried the hair of their loved ones to tie them to the place where they lived. I found this connection with the home land and with the hair of a person interesting from the point of view of today and the efforts of many people to reconnect with their land and get to know it, as for example in the work of Ana Mendieta or Otobong Nkanga.
I would love to know more about your thoughts on the transformative nature of matter?
I try to think about matter as a living substance existing and moving freely in this world regardless of man. In my research, I am most influenced by the theories of new materialism and object-oriented ontology. I am inspired by the texts of Jane Bennet and Manuel De Landa. I am interested in geological processes and rock transformations, and at the same time I try to think about a layer of material that has already been transformed by man. Sedimentation and waste transformation. I am also interested in the phenomenon of weathering of concrete buildings, when after the flow of water carrying away minerals between cracks in the concrete, stalactites called calthemites are formed. I am fascinated by this transformation of a man-made structure with naturally formed stalactites.
Please can you talk about the 'post-apocalyptic aesthetic' that your installations often have?
The idea of a post-apocalyptic world has always been fascinating to me. An idea when the world gets into a situation that goes to the core of what is actually essential. The idea of working with elements of a former civilization again as if we were back in prehistoric times. It can be both a critical view and not at the same time. When we look at the idea of the apocalypse of human society precisely from the point of view of things and not of man. The world will continue its vitality even if the human species dies out. At the same time, my idea of the apocalypse is hopeful in that if humanity is capable of destroying the world as we know it, if we want to survive, we will have to radically reevaluate our current behavior, even towards the other inhabitants of this planet and the entire symbiosis on earth. We will need a sensitivity that leads to an understanding of all the things we find ourself on earth with in order to survive.
Can you please tell us about spirituality in your work?
Spirituality appears and disappears in my work. One example could be my project that I did in Israel. I was interested in the Muslim ritual of tajammum. It is an act of ritual purification when clean water is not available. You can have sand, stones or mud. At that time, I spent a lot of time on the roof of my house, where the workers left a tub in which they originally mixed concrete, full of stones. I found it very poetic until I learned about this ritual later. I made a series of videos washing in stones on the roof, in sand in the desert and in mud in the Dead sea. The idea that we purify ourselves through the soil was very powerful for me.
If people are willing to accept the immaterial nature of things in the world, it is possible for them to treat themselves and nature with respect. The tool for this can be either a certain philosophy, such as the philosophy of object-oriented ontology, or faith.
At the moment, I am also interested in theories that are not considered scientific in today's world, but they can be all the more inspiring for artists. I am interested in how J. W. Goethe and Rudolf Haushka studied nature, who did not approach science mechanically but from an artistic point of view.