JULIA KATER. BETWEEN PRESENCE AND ABSENCE
by Luciana Benaduce



© Julia Kater in her atelier, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017. Photo by Luciana Benaduce

How did your encounter with photography and the visual arts happen?

Julia Kater (JK): It happened naturally. In the beginning, photography was the process I found to preserve my memories. As I saw the developed images, I realized that my perceptions of these moments were always very distinct from what I saw in the images. It dawned on me how a simple moment can harbor so many particular images, such multiple points of view, integrating slices and dimensions of space-time… And this perception accompanies me to this day. I believe that photography is a great way to show the tenuous line between presence and absence. In the case of the cutout works, I’m interested in showing how the similar contours can shelter distinct images; I’m interested in the autonomy of the line that, when freed from the form, becomes something else as it no longer has anything left to outline.


© Julia Kater in her atelier, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017. Photo by Luciana Benaduce

Besides photography, you also studied Pedagogy. How does Pedagogy participate in your creation and research process? Has it helped change your look on photography?

JK: I majored in Pedagogy at the same I studied photography. I don’t think that my Pedagogy education has directly influenced my artistic work, but it has certainly presented me with some concepts that have enhanced my repertoire; I could talk extensively about this. There are concepts related to the learning process that interest me very much, such as spatio-temporal structuring and body image scheme, the impossibility of destitution or separating one thing from another… In all these processes there’s always the presence of something tangible and, with it, also a completely subjective sphere. I think we can understand a lot from that.

Pedagogy does not change my look on photography. It comes in as a subject matter, an area of interest, and this evokes some questions that stay with me for a while and end up in some of my work. For example, the installation with drawings from children who were in the process of literacy originated from the book Le Monde des Autres, from French educator Arno Stern, who criticized the practice of “free drawing on imposed themes” in schools, and how this is an ambiguous practice as it suggests free production but, at the same time, directs and indicates defined themes. These ambivalences, these contradictions in speech relations interest me very much.


© Julia Kater, 'Desenhos livres sobre temas impostos', 2016.  View from the solo exhibition at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil.
54 selected drawing elements made by 7 year olds. Laser-cut stainless steel painted with white lacquer

In all of your works, the presence of handmade work with interventions through cutouts and collage is strong. How is it to follow this path in a moment when many artist use digital tools in their works?

JK: These digital tools are present, albeit throughout the process. Now, specifically in the case of collage, cutting, fitting, and overlapping of images happen physically in my work. It’s a choice, but this does not exclude the use of digital resources, as in other works, such as in the video “Acordo”, which has a strong presence of post-production.


© Julia Kater in her atelier, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017. Photo by Luciana Benaduce

When faced with your imaginary landscapes, it is possible to realize that there is a construction and deconstruction of a landscape in time and space. How does your process work?

JK: It is true that most of my work has this image deconstruction, but it is not random; it often happens with elements that could not originally be detached from one another, like figure and background (mountain and sky) for example. My work process does not follow a precise path. It happens in many ways, most of my work happens outside the studio, in observing the streets, the relation between people and spaces, what is said and how I hear it. The video 'Breu', for example, happened when I watched a street being asphalted, and how tar adheres to everything. It seemed like it contaminated everything around it; I remember seeing the work material, watering can, gloves, everything was tar, they looked like fossils. And I associated this to discourse, how an idea about something can be sedimented, imprisoned, fossilized. This video shows through images the semi-handcrafted process of asphalting wasteland, while it presents through audio a speech from someone imprisoned, confined between “right and wrong”.


© Still image from the video 'Breu'


© Still image from the video 'Breu'

One thing that caught my attention when looking at your work was that, when the human element comes into play, it always appears with its head “hidden”. Is there a concept or language behind this?

JK: You’re right. I’m not interested in reinforcing people’s identities; I’d rather offer a broader, more general idea of the human being. The fact that it could be “any” person pleases me very much. If I showed their faces, I’d be presenting an identity and be offering the possibility of thematizing an individual. 'O que resta' is a series of photos of the same person in which I cut out the figure leaving only the silhouette of the body.


© Julia Kater in her atelier, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017. Photo by Luciana Benaduce

What currently inspires you as an artist? Who are your inspirations?

JK: I feed myself mostly off of movies and literature. Some writers that I specially like are Samuel Beckett, August Strindberg. I like reading scripts from moviemakers I admire, like Bergman, Teo Angelopulos and many others. I think scripts are interesting for realising what language cannot handle, what it will never be able to encompass.


© books in Julia Kater's atelier, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017. Photo by Luciana Benaduce


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LINKS
Julia Kater
urbanautica Brazil