Jaana Houessou


Exposition: Connection to materiality: Engaging with Ceramic practice (22/01/2014) by Priska Falin
Jaana Houessou 13/10/2014 at 15:20

Priska Falin sketches interesting openings of the ceramic art process in her exposition Connection to Materiality, Engaging with Ceramic practice. She approaches the topic in aesthetic and verbal ways, binding together sound, pictures, video and text. The materiality of ceramic process is introduced through two simple episodes, boiling and crackling of the ceramic surface. The videos show the happening itself and the photos present the result of it. Gathered comments of the gallery audience give an idea of experiencing the material as an outsider.


Falin opens the game from an interesting point of view. Choosing the boiling and crackling as examples of the artistic process she evades the clichés of the materiality of ceramic. Making ceramics involves various levels of bodily engagement and physical contact. Focusing on two effects that often remain invisible inside the kiln and discussing the ways of perceiving them leads straight to the point of her research. Revealing these two happenings that are usually taken as failures of glazing but are shown here in a particularly aesthetic way, lead the reader to the edge of authentic experience of the practitioner. Artist´s relationship to her material is often so intensive and close that the failures become possibilities. Conventional rules turn meaningless as the flow of skills and knowledge lead the process without overt analysis. The experience and pleasure of the material does not depend on the potter´s rulebook.


The process of making art appears here as a natural means of artistic research. In fact the whole research question leans on the experience of processing ceramic material. Both listening to the crackling sound and looking at the video of boiling ink and crackling on the ceramic material are very tempting in their intensity. The photos of thrown and glazed objects give an idea of the result of boiling and crackling but their power as means of research seem to be milder. In this context the gallery exhibition with the gathered comments of the audience also suffer somewhat in being such a common device in artistic research. Nevertheless all these means support each other and build the whole in understanding the materiality of ceramic.


Using another artist to make a video of the process poses some questions. Whose framing are we looking at and how does it affect our experience? The materiality of the exhibition, photos, video and sound offers the experience to different senses but also brings its own nature in it. In this combination it will not be easy to reflect any genuine experience.


The written part of the exposition is very short. There is no room for long explanations of the whole research. Falin opens the background sufficiently enough and then goes to the point of this exposition. The problematic of her research comes up in the text later. Falin presents her position in artistic research and among other researchers, but not among other artists. The role of the written text is apparently explorative but not presented as artistic in itself. This matters of course, but as the choice is clear it does not bother the reading.


To my experience the videos and the sound of this exposition carry the whole idea of this presentation. As a built installation they would probably work without any explanations and still give the same idea of intensive materiality. They simply document the material happening but somehow succeed to convey the feeling and the amazement of the practitioner, too. Making video of the short material experiments gives good opportunity to repeat and to handle the experience of the perception. The video distances but at the same time adds its own framings and aesthetics to the perception. In this way, making the video becomes a method of artistic research.


The artistic researcher must be brave to seek for suitable methods. Being content with the existing and commonly used methods does not create new kind of research. Falin sets her study on the combination of making and knowing as it would be her natural way of being. There is no conflict in introducing the same issue by listening, reading or looking.


Receiving Falin´s text is an aesthetic experience in itself. The content of her exposition engages the reader in multiple ways using different senses. In the context of artistic research this is refreshing and very useful way to explore the silent process. The different elements of Falin´s exposition support each other well in their content and aesthetics. The videos show the idea clearly and offer nothing too much. Also, the photos of glazed cups and the exhibition speak the same language. The sound of crackling is a captivating and an essential part of the whole. It keeps the reader concentrated to the topic. Reading this exposition is a sensory experience. All the elements are needed and all of them have their own role in introducing the sense of material.