Odette Graskie

I create spaces for human connection. By using poetry and literature as a golden thread of influence, I rework stories and emotions into spaces that can highlight a certain human process or journey. I do this through installation, drawing, textile artworks and ceramics. The work often incorporates multisensory aspects, usually tactility, to bring viewers closer to the art. One of the key experiences that I hope to induce within my artworks is an idiosyncratic inner journey that might at times be an emotional one. Here viewers can become immersed, sometimes play, and they can be led by their emotions. This sort of interaction demands attention, introspection, and any sort of emotional reaction – even if it is disgust.

 

Currently I am working on a body of drawings and paper installations. At the start of my drawing process, there is a focus on the mundane habits and interactions between people. This focus is crucial as it brings our attention to the unseen moments that happen around us every day while also pointing out the importance of these silent moments that make a part of a communal lived experience. The only mediators of the people that might become subjects is their location – which in itself can already be a very political aspect of their existence. I choose subjects solely on the fact that I share a space with them for a however brief period of time – they are a part of my daily journey. The figures on paper become like blank spaces in which the brain will automatically project recognition if it is at all possible. If not, the assumptions made of the strangers on the pages will become the story a viewer creates for themselves – a projected image of associations and assumptions.

 

My drawing process in this way also has layers of ambiguity. Firstly it can be empowering and emboldening to the artist and the unknowing participant. The act of looking and paying attention to the details of someone’s cheekbones or their beard or the amount of earrings they wear can become a moment of making the unnoticed visible. When I draw a participant it creates a moment of intimacy. However, my drawings also become something more violent in that it is with an unknowing participant, who is reduced down to their base appearance and whose two-minute face now belongs to a document of faces that will be used for other purposes. There is a new sort of ambiguity in that the faces will be regurgitated back into new settings. This process is similar to the way the mind translates strangers we have seen in the day into characters in our dreams, as the brain is working on continuous rule-governed memory consolidation processes. This process is mimicked in my work, where I put characters in interactions that I do not know will ever be true and possibly creating fiction.

 

At this stage, they get put back together with thread. Through the needle and thread I can mend what I tore apart in my analysis and with my blade and I can create a new setting for my characters. The thread mimics the line of the pen – in this way it becomes the closest avenue I have to imagine the rest of the participants’ lives. There are imagined stories in this layer, with many interpretations. They are an exploration of our human tendency to make assumptions and new connections – what is the story of a flared nostril, a look of apathy in the eyes? I encourage viewers to make new elucidations and experience the combinations of paper-people as a whole crowd through which they can move, feel and connect.