About Lucija Klauž

Destroyed by Repetition – Found in Translation

MATERIAL DESTRUCTION AND CONCEPTUAL DECONSTRUCTION IN THE WORKS OF LUCIJA KLAUŽ

About Lucija Klauž by Celica Fitz. Published on 3 July 2022.

INVESTIGATING THE FLIPSIDES OF CULTURAL PRACTICES

Lucija Klauž playfully intermingles words and meaning in conceptual artworks. She turns usual processes upside down thereby investigating the flipsides of cultural practices: texts become unreadable, translations create new content, clutter and disorder resemble remembering and forgetting, repetition causes destruction.
Lucija Klauž is both an artist and writer. At the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, she is studying Video and New Media. Since 2020, she works as a writer for Radio Študent in Ljubljana. Founded in 1969 it is one of the oldest student’s European radio stations.
In her artistic work, she combines media- and cultural theory with her own processes of documentation and transformation. Creating new works, the artist starts from concepts, such as theories on semiotics, romantic tourism or nostalgia. She explores these concepts and diverse cultural techniques – writing and reading, collecting, traveling and exploring – with research on materiality and mediality around such practices. Using old and new media she explores the way they can be altered, changed, questioned, extended and experienced in artistic ways. She derives considerable joy in an intellectual sense of play using several ways of artistic destruction of materials and deconstruction of concepts.

LOST IN REPETITION: PRINTING AND THE LOSS OF FORM

In her recent works, Lucija Klauž has reflected gravure printing and the visual and material qualities of texts. Two series dealt with the reproduction of texts, as well as with their content sliding through different languages. She was intrigued with the construction and destruction of meaning through processes of repetition and translation. In our conversations the artists explains her fascination of the fact that when multiplying a text or image, the printing plate transforms slightly. While reproduction, the materiality of the zinc plate is destroyed through constant repetition. She is interested in this material process: “When you reproduce something, the intention is usually to reinforce it. I liked that the opposite is the case. […] The acid destroys the plate a bit. I had the ambition to print so much that it would destroy the plate. But I quickly realized that it takes a long time for that to happen,” the artist explains.
In her first series, she attempts to recreate and accelerate this process of the loss of form. She sped up this process on the one hand by leaving the aluminum plate longer in acid. On the other hand, she rewrote the reverse letters of the text with every new print. With each printing and each layer of handwritten rewriting, the original texts become more illegible. A structure of layered handwritten lines emerges, transforming text to texture and palimpsestic images like ‘nothing ever happened except its place’ (2022). The multiple layers of two-dimensional texts become a three-dimensional drawing: Overlapping creates a net of intermingled and interwoven linestructures, documenting and accumulating each printing process with a new layer.

Lucija Klauž, nothing ever happened except its place, Analogue Print, 2022
Lucija Klauž, nothing ever happened except its place, print, 2022

Klauž creates multiple prints working with the loss of form, leading to illegibility. Each version of the print becomes unique, thereby contradicting its use as a reproduction of one original. For the artist, this process of rewriting the text resembles the practice of copying books before the invention of printing. However, in the works of Lucija Klauž the ‘original’ is not the manuscript or the canvas, it maybe is the printing plate itself or each new printed version. In addition to those historical references, the artist explains that the meaning of the single words were of no crucial importance for her.

“IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO NOT UNDERSTAND THE TEXT”
WRITINGS ON DRAWING – DRAWINGS ON WRITING

Without understanding the Latin text, the process of engraving it on the plate is not writing for the artist: “I am not actually writing. Because I do not understand. In addition, if you are writing you do not need to look at every letter, you just write. It is automatic. However, this was not the case for me. It was important for me to not understand the text.” On the printing plate, the artist must do the letters in reverse. The movements of the hand forming letters in a learned process are mirrored, rewound and thereby automatism is precluded. The repetitive movement following the given lines of the unreadable letters transforms the processes of writing to something else, maybe drawing.
When asked if the result is more of an image and drawing or a text like a visual poem, she says, “That’s an important question, but I want to avoid giving an answer to it. It goes from being a text to, no longer being a text. I am not sure what it will end up being. In exhibitions, you can do both.” Even if this is not necessarily intended by her, the artist observes many viewers attempting to read the works. “Many viewers in exhibitions ask me about the meaning of the text. They see it as a text. Even if it is presented like a work of art and printed on graphic paper. They realize that they are not supposed to read it like a book. But they try to read it until they move on to other, more layered versions. Most people get to the point that they are not merely supposed to read it.” This relates to the history of the construction and use of Lorem Ipsum. She continues, “When it was written as an ancient text, it was meant to be read. But now people don’t read it.”

LOREM IPSUM: VISUAL SURROGATE AND TEXT WITH MUTABLE MEANING

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisici elit, sed eiusmod tempor incidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequat.” Lorem Ipsum, 2022

“First I wanted to create a meaningful text that I could destroy with repetition. I could not find the text that was usable. Then I found the Lorem Ipsum text. First, it was kind of a joke. I like the idea of including humor to the artwork”, Lucija Klauž explains and thereby is indicating her focus on process and theory rather than on a particular piece of content. Lorem Ipsum is a placeholder – a filler text – widely used for typesetting by authors, web hosts, designers or printers. It is to be replaced by the text. In doing so, it is a tool purposely used to overlook its meaning by focusing on layout, typesetting, and spacing: The visual appearance of text. Usually this visuality of text is easily overlooked when it is perceived and viewed as medium. While reading a text, one focuses on its content rather than its materiality and visuality. Hence, when the text becomes an image in the artist’s work, this gaze is made erroneous and conscious.
The words of Lorem Ipsum go back to various antique writings, but are removed, transformed, and set into different versions, the artist proceeds. Today, Lorem Ipsum can hardly be understood as complete text, even though the words and some fragments can be translated. In the second series on Lorem Ipsum, the artist tried to trace back those meanings. Using online tools, she translated Lorem Ipsum into Slovenian and back, and back again several times.

“translations I-IV”: TRANSFORMATION OF CONTENT – A GOOD FIND IN TRANSLATION

“The pain itself is the key to the pain, the main gain is the game, but this kind of time may fall to some great pain and pain. For the most part, what can our school district do to achieve some benefit from it?”
Lorem Ipsum, translated to English (11.06.2022)

“Sama bolečina je bolečina, ki ljubi, glavna prednost ljubezni, a čas, da zapadeš v bolečino nekaterih velikih stvari, neke velike bolečine. Kako na splošno upravljamo svojo državo, da bomo od nje deležni kakšne koristi?”
Lorem Ipsum translated to English, translated to Slovenian (11.06.2022)

„Der Schmerz selbst ist der Schmerz der Liebe, der Hauptnutzen der Liebe, aber es ist an der Zeit, in den Schmerz einiger großer Dinge zu fallen, einiger großer Schmerzen. Wie sollten wir unser Land im Allgemeinen führen, um davon zu profitieren?“
Lorem Ipsum, translated to English, translated to Slovenian, translated to German (11.06.2022)

Processes of translation are fascinating for the artist. Therefore, we also began to discuss what happens to language and our conversations as we translated thoughts through three languages and wrote texts about it. Asked what was lost or found in the processes of translations, Lucija Klauž answered: “For me everything was found in translation. Many things have changed. The first couple of times you translate the text again and again it always changes. Every time you get something new. But then things start to stay the same. After seven, eight, nine times it changes again. For example, there was one sentence that at first was like ‘the game is a priority’. Then it stayed the same for ten times – and that was a game to me! After many times it changed into ‘the game continues’. That was a good find in the process.”
Again, the artist uses repetition to transform the meaning of the text. But in this second series, she now uses digital tools and its content. Moreover, she deals with meaning in the opposite manner. In this series, she does not destroy the meaning by changing its form to unreadable palimpsest, but enhances the supposedly fragmented text with new content. In this second process not the materiality is focused but the transformation within processes of translation. The artist starts a playful exchange with the online translator. Finding new meanings in switching the language repeatedly, also the input for the translator and its system is changing. In the background of the online translation, there are other texts, influencing the translation: Content and meaning is transformed by learning systems and repetition.

Lucija Klauž, Version of the Series Translations I-III, 2022
Lucija Klauž, Version of the Series Translations I-III, 2022.jpg
Lucija Klauž, Version of the Series Translations I-III, 2022.jpg-2
Lucija Klauž, translations I-III (2022), screen prints, Photo: Lucija Klauž

The artist copied these emerging new texts from the online translator and pasted them into text documents. Using justification, the text modules span on the page. Spaces appear between the now almost empty phrases. Some text modules stick together, implying legible meanings. Others stand isolated on the paper, as if without context. The artist uses these visual characteristics of the layout to draw attention to the processes of translation. This level of destruction of meaning complements the previous level of destruction of the material in the printing process.
The two series by Lucija Klauž address the use of written language and the search for meaning between visually and materiality of texts and between reading them as texts and watching them as images. The artist thereby also combines the aesthetics of old media with new media, digital based aesthetics of algorithms of translation, or automatically layout options. Lorem Ipsum today is a tool of digital text editing, a new medium that has followed and in some respects replaced analog printing. Her artistic technique throws back to old methods without denying its origin in a post-digital age. Processes of coding and decoding meaning are transforming words from plate to paper, from language to another language, from text to something else. Playing with artistic deconstruction, both with a reasoned theoretical approach and by exploring materiality and practices, is the theme of recent works of Lucija Klauž.

INDEX AND TRACKS OF HISTORY AND PRACTICES

In previous works, Lucija Klauž has already explored other cultural techniques in an artistic way. Being interested in the incidental, unseen and the backside within cultural practices, she has also explored the concept of disorder and clutter. The series of photographs ‘Kložna’ refers to the Slovenian word and concept of forgotten conglomerations of things in the public sphere.

Lucija Klauz, Klozna, 2021, 2
Lucija Klauž, Kložna, 2021, 5
Lucija Klauž, Kložna, 2021
Lucija Klauž, Kložna, Photographs, 2021

“Many family homes and farms in my country have the urge to store things that are broken, no longer work, or that simply no one needs anymore. We tend to say that we might need them sometime in the future for an eventuality that we cannot yet foresee. Alternatively, that it would be a waste to throw it away for someone to come and borrow it. Or that it’s a piece of history,” the artist explains. She photographed and documented items in the surroundings of the Štajerska region in east Slovenia and printed them. Then she asked people to carry the photographs with them for a while. They borrowed the pictures and thus, the documented things, and returned them to the artist later. Thereby, the works become both icon and index, photograph and object: the photographed situations and the material results of carrying the photographs around transformed them, damaged them. Thus it physically documented the process of carrying around pictures like things, photographs like the depicted clutter. “The images begin to resemble the objects I photographed. […] By isolating them in the frames, I draw attention back to these objects, which through such framings begin to resemble sculptures,” the artist again refers to the transformation of her artistic medium, combining reflections on content and materiality, “when exhibited they are put in corners or folded over to put under the door that refuses to stay open.”

Lucija Klauž, Exhibitionview, Kložna, 2021
Lucija Klauž, Kložna, 2021,4
Lucija Klauž, Kložna, Serie of Photographs, 2021, Exhibition Views

UPCOMING WORKS AND EMERGING IDEAS: TIME, NOSTALGIA AND THE TOURISTIC GAZE

The third cultural practice the artist is researching is the movement through space and time by traveling and tourism. She researches practices and concepts of traveling according to the measurement and perception of time as well as tourist gazes on the landscape: How are time, landscapes and regions perceived while traveling? Lucija Klauž researches practices of encountering landscapes and cities following the idea of nostalgic journey. Inspired by the “The future of nostalgia” (2001) by cultural theorist and artist Svetlana Boym, she evaluates the two different nostalgias: restorative nostalgia of renewing traditions and reflexive nostalgia – being aware that the desired past is not to be recaptured but a fiction. Lucija Klauž will explore practices of movement across space in unexpected ways with performances and video documentation of slow practices of exploring cities and landscapes, she hints at upcoming projects. The Trains in Slovenia are old. Looking out of their windows – through a touristic gaze – nature is framed as a beautiful landscape. Furthermore the measurement of time is connected to traveling by train: Time was synchronized along railway time to coordinate journeys. At the end of our conversation, we talked about ongoing processes and she shared a preview and a glimpse into the development of a new work. While discussing Boris Groys’ critical assumption on tourism as a reproduction of the ever-similar standardized city views and preconceived experiences – perhaps combining it with Marc Auge’s philosophy of non-sites and train stations – we dive into the process of creating a new artwork with the method of Lucija Klauž: Now, the artist is again starting with theories and concepts, trying to figure out how they can be materialized, and how an experimental system could be build up to research this concepts in her artworks.

Reflecting on both theory and materials, Lucija Klauž creates works that employ various techniques such as drawing, print, performance, and video, conceptually combining old and new media. She works in series — repetition is her method to explore transformation. By combining reflections on the transformation of content in semiotic processes of encoding, decoding, and cultural techniques of remembering, forgetting and culturally shaped perception of our surroundings, Lucija Klauž creates media-reflexive works.

LINKS

Academy of Fine Arts and Design Ljubljana: Notes on Reflections, Lucija Klauž
instagram.com: Lucija Klauž

COOPERATION

Guestroom Maribor