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#17

Karla Black was born in Alexandria, Scotland in 1972
She studied at Glasgow School of Art, 1995 - 1999 and 2002 - 2004
She lives and works in Glasgow

Karla has created two sculptures. The first consists of a large rectangular layer of plaster that sits on the gallery floor at a slightly offset angle compared to the gallery walls. Its edges have been affected in different ways along their lengths by patting, neatening or leaving the scattered effect of the powder. The majority of the plaster surface is left as it fell but changes have been made to some areas. Pieces of concealer-stick (make-up) have been cut into small chunks and thrown across the surface. Hair gel has been placed in a small pile and been absorbed into the plaster. Nail varnish has been splattered across it. Vaseline, glass, paper and other materials have also been added to the work. The other sculpture is constructed from lengths of sugar paper coated with layers of chalk and joined together with hair gel and nail varnish. The resulting sheet has been distorted, hung from the gallery beams with white ribbon and had broken glass, lipstick and coloured plaster placed upon it.


A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Karla Black at Outpost on 28th March 2006.

Kaavous Clayton: Your sculptures seem to be closer to an experience or a feeling than an object. Is this something you strive for?

Karla Black: I suppose the thing that I strive for is to get in amongst mediums. It's what's in between things that interests me. So I try to nearly make a painting, nearly make a performance, nearly make an installation, but it's also really important to me that it is sculpture that I make in the end because I want to retain the autonomy of modernism within the work.

KC: By making work that will only exist for the duration of an exhibition (if it even lasts that long) and is extremely fragile, are you highlighting the ephemerality of stuff?

KB: What do you mean, "stuff"?

KC: General stuff. Work, objects, galleries, us.

KB: Not specifically, I don't think so, not in the first instance, maybe it's secondary but I think that the reason why I make that kind of work is more because, even though there are ideas in the work about psychological and emotional developmental processes, that is what the work actually is, as well. It is a physical or actual exploration into relating and communicating and problem solving through material experience rather than through language and, because they are transient processes in themselves, then that's what it is. It's behaviour as much as it is an object or a thing. That's why it's really performative. And also I can't make things that don't fall apart. I'm sure I could learn but I don't want to. I don't have any traditional skills and I don't like to follow instructions. I like to find my own way through things and I don't really see that much value in something that you already know how to make and that definitely will stand up and stay the same for a long time. Just like how the fact that people might know certain things doesn't always make a difference to how they live their lives. You have to learn things for yourself through your own experiences. Someone can tell you a million times how to do something but until you actually want to do it then it won't make any difference. The work is based in psychoanalytic theory and that's what psychoanalysis is; it's individualistic, it's about being given the space and time to learn things for yourself, to discover what it is that you want and what it is that you think and what's right for you. Freudian analysis was based in language and revolved around the father as the central figure but I'm more interested in Melanie Klein whose theories were based in play and in a more physical relationship with the world rather than a cerebral, linguistic one, with the mother as the central figure.

KC: Do you ever shut up?

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