Diana Artus is a visual artist dealing with the perception of urban space and its imagery as well as with topics like narration, memory production, the ambiguous nature of desire, contemporary concepts of love and self-constitution. She is especially interested in the interdependency between city and mood and explores public representation and urban objects from an associative-metaphorical point of view. Photography provides the base of her creative process resulting in reinterpretations of urban phenomena and architectural bodies, often taking the form of sculptural image objects or images of images. In addition she also writes articles and essays to reflect on current conditions of work and creative production with a special focus on the sociology of art.
Artus’ art works evolve from all the material which comes across her way while strolling randomly through different cities: photographs she takes, found footage, visual/textual notes. She uses a small digital camera serving as seismographic device to record ‚psychogeographic shocks‘ – the accidential, the provisional, the fragile and the contradictory are especially attractive to the artist. After finding their way into her archive these photographs later initiate a process of analog transformation, consisting of repeated reproduction, distortions and interferences, error and interactions between ‚outer’ and ‚inner’ images. The limits of the photographic medium are constantly stretched and transcended, transforming digital photographs into unique originals characterized by an analog character and a haptic materiality.
Besides Diana Artus also started to extensively work with old photo novel magazines found on South European flea markets, subjecting their imagery, characters and stories to an actualization and recontextualization with the aim to revisit and to reuse this genre and its narrative potential.
“The artist Diana Artus detects urban and mundane sites that symbolize the relationship humans have with their self-created surroundings. She deals with the current state of cities but also abandons her own contemporary perspective to trace back to architectural witnesses of former times. She examines different cultural contexts by traveling to many cities around the globe—Berlin, Istanbul, London, Mexico City, New York, Toronto or Seoul. There she photographs specific architectural sites that visually epitomize the changes. These cityscapes form the basis for the process of her artistic work. Printed out, the works undergo crucial analog physical treatment which is often not fully comprehensible in the final work. Diana Artus superimposes, cuts, crumbles or rolls on the photos. Paper strips hang down from façades; houses are removed or broken off. Some photographed buildings seemingly collapse in their frames. The artist repeats the process of cities’ architectural change. She turns the flat images of architecture into three-dimensional objects again. With the process of photographing architectural sites as a symbol of agreed concurrences and then remodeling their visual appearance, Diana Artus creates a new version of the cityscapes to point to the gap between individual and societal processes of recollection and memory.”
Extract from: History Repeating. About the work of Diana Artus (2015) by Tina Sauerlaender, curator and writer
“Diana Artus uses reality and photography in equal measure as a means of manipulation and fictionalization. Her works have a characteristic style that suggests documentary, and their serial structure and the black and white of their images are reminiscent of an archive. Yet the artist always works with the feeling of instability instead of favoring bureaucratic composition. The images are blurred, reproduced, and scratched; presented on loose sheets and sloppily pasted or wallpapered directly onto the wall. The precise depiction of documentary photography is annulled and only acknowledged as a reference, for the objectivity of the technical images was always illusory. (…) She stretches, filters, obscures, and masks the objectifiable facts. Her visual worlds are imaginative and politicized and subject reality to a visual test: ego is not someone else, ego is an image. The world is an imitation: the copy more real than the original.”
“Diana Artus’ black and white photographs of cityscapes and architectural facades have a spectral, haunting quality from the start. Yet her technique of creasing, folding, reproducing and adding dimension to her recent works intensifies this element, making the buildings protrude and furrow into uncanny forms. (…) While the photographs could stand alone in their excellent composition, she does not stop there: Artus’ body of work is decidedly process-based.”
“The picture is only the starting point of her works (…) she prints out the image on normal paper, wrinkles, draws over, squashes and pastes it and repeats these processes until the point of perfection is reached, creating black and white paperworks representing deconstructed facades that are melting down or aging like wrinkled skin.”
“Mit herkömmlichen Printverfahren zu Papier gebracht, verfremdet sie Stadtansichten und Architekturfotografien mithilfe einer Vielzahl von Verfahren: Faltung, Abnutzung, Übermalung, Kleistern und Erweiterung mit aufgebrachtem Pappmaché halten diesen Räumen einen Zerrspiegel vor. Gebäude schmelzen und sinken zusammen, tropfen wie zähes Kerzenwachs auf Passanten nieder und erstarren in langgezogenen, grotesk aufgeblähten Klinkersteinwalzen. Andernorts geht eine Erschütterung durch den Raum und legt die Fassaden von in Becher’scher Präzision abgebildeten Gebäuden in Wogen, und manchmal verschluckt eine Falte im Raum gar einen ganzen Straßenzug. Im Kollaps offenbart das Weltgefüge zwischen klaftertiefen Spalten einen metrischen Brei aus gebauter und gelebter Realität. Artus liest darin die strukturelle Instabilität des öffentlichen Raumes ab. Sie verzerrt ihn bis zur Unkenntlichkeit und versetzt ihn ins Wanken, zieht die Wahrnehmung in Zweifel und konfrontiert sie mit einer anderen, einer neuen Raumordnung. Das kartesische System, auf dem das Weltgebäude in Stein und in Kultur errichtet ist, weicht den chaotischen Turbulenzen, in denen sich die vielfältigen, wechselhaften Abhängigkeiten zwischen gebauten und sozial geformten Räumen verknoten.”
Inventur in Utopia, review about the group exhibition The world is stable now (Galerie Alexander Levy, 2013) by Matthias Planitzer, critic and author of the art blog Castor & Pollux
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“Diana Artus is known for her hazy black and white photographs of facades and buildings, often rendered in 3D by her technique of cutting and folding along architectural lines. In this exhibition she shows selections from her series “Those aren’t your memories”, which give the impression of a scene observed from outside, the edges obscured by a murky, almost ghostly fog. In the backdrop we see the contours of buildings but no objects are ever solidified. The irresolvable nature of the images is unsettling and reminiscent of dream memories, powerful in terms of affect yet partial and ambiguous.”
Spectral Photography: Diana Artus and Ornella Fieres, review of the duo exhibition #Visual Noise (Lage Egal Berlin, 2014) by Alison Hugill, editor, curator and writer for the art blog Berlin Art Link
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