Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Tanya Brodsky (b. 1982, Kiev, Ukraine) earned her MFA from UC San Diego in 2016, and her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2005. In 2016 she was a fellow at SOMA Summer Program in Mexico City, and in 2013 she participated in the Mountain School of Art.
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
Growing up in Ukraine, I once saw an old Soviet kids’ movie, which was playing on TV. It was about this schoolboy, who accidentally summons a genie from a bottle (hilarious misunderstandings ensue, etc). There’s a scene in the film where the boy asks to call his mom, and the genie, who always tries too hard, conjures him up a solid gold payphone. The boy tries using it, but of course it’s just a solid chunk of metal and can’t accept coins, and the dial won’t turn. I thought that that was so beautiful, but didn’t understand why until many years later, when I started making sculpture.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
My work often incorporates salvaged or recreated architectural elements like window security bars, fences, gates and railings: structures that fascinate me as demarcations of boundaries, objects bearing a force of suggestion. As I move through Los Angeles, I am continuously aware of the way in which the built environment unfolds around me, with all of its absurdities, tensions, and idiosyncrasies. Sourced from local scrap yards, the found elements in my work retain their own histories of interactions with previous users and their experiences of the city.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
Honestly, I don’t know that I am. I also don’t know if there is such a thing as a monolithic LA art community. But that’s also what I like about being an artist here: there is a fluidity that allows for new encounters and discoveries. I am very interested in the conversations that are happening right now around work being made in Los Angeles, especially in sculpture. I’m excited to contribute to these, and grateful for my peers and mentors who keep helping me to grow as an artist.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
I met Andrea Zittel, and became very familiar with her practice while working at Regen Projects, soon after moving to LA. I was struck by the way that she approached objects as an integrated part of movement and of interaction, and, by extension, of the body. Mike Kelley was another huge influence. Seeing some of the Kandor pieces in progress when I came to visit one of his assistants really impacted my understanding of material, and how it can be part of an encounter that’s larger than itself. Of younger artists working now, I recently discovered Rosha Yaghmai’s work, and really like how smart and nuanced it is. Her work feels simultaneously disembodied and embedded within a material conversation, which I love.
What is your favorite art accident?
I love walking around the city and noticing the little misuses or malfunctions in the structures around me. It’s inspiring to see objects behaving in unexpected ways, or coming across familiar things being used in an unexpected way. I’m interested in the way that sculptural properties of everyday objects reveal themselves as their functionality is altered or completely subverted.
Photo of Tanya Brodsky: Josh Schaedelt
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018