Friday, May 21, 2010

Artist Interview: Natalie Duncan

What is your name: Natalie Duncan For some performance pieces the pseudonym “Dasha” is adopted.

Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist: I am currently in my 5th year as a studio specialist student at the University of Toronto, in Ontario Canada. I have desires to study in Norway when I graduate.

What is the style of your pieces:I have yet to define myself as an artist. I do know that I perform, make objects, things that move, time based, viewer activated work which cannot exist without the use, participation or conversation of people. I am motivated by everyday objects and find myself drawn to boxes. I reinvent their traditional purpose, and take them from useful objects which contain traditional things, into pieces which emit sound, house alternate worlds, contain and attempt to restrict light, detach portions of our bodies and act as a monstrous performer. My works allow the viewer to intimately interact with a familiar object which transcends from something they know, to something unordinary before their eyes.

What is the medium in which you work: I often use machines, light, sounds, boxes and the body. I enjoy works which maintain a sense of ease in their modification or construction. I do not believe that to be an artist we must share the labour and time which went into the piece with our viewers but rather allow the experience to remain unaltered and clean. Time should translate and resinate for us within our works but remain unnoticed by the viewer.

What started you on your path as an artist: Crayons were the beginning of my passion, but it was the encouragement of my teacher Mrs. Labow and current professors Tanya Mars and Marla Hlady who helped me hone my abilities and desires to produce inspiring works.

What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: My works are influenced by social constraints particular to my life, culture and social experiences. Topics such as marriage, death, procreation, fear and sex which are confined and regulated acts which should maintain themselves as natural human functions appear repeatedly throughout my works. I question how much of our lives are socially imposed and how much remains natural and untouched. I am often drawn to the idea of monstrosity ,human interaction and similarities; perhaps my objects act as a surrogate performer, but more importantly perhaps they stand as a symbolic monster which acts on my behalf, spreading my views, emotions and feelings in a less invasive and confrontational manner.

What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in: Besides mechanical works and performance I enjoy Fluxus.

Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like: My showings can almost always be expected to involve my audience. The atmosphere surrounding my works is usually one of conversation and interaction.

Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in: When working in the shop I am always wearing all black, Doc. Martens and safety glasses. The art is the star, I fade to the background and focus my attentions to the work.

What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist? Finding my place in the art world. I have still yet to find it.

What is your favorite sandwich of all time: Moms Grilled Cheese Sandwich! with ketchup!

Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they: This year has allowed me to take the construction of my works more seriously. I have learned that when machines or sculptures are not working as I would like, it is important to step back and walk away. The most successful pieces come from patience.

Who is your favorite artist alive or dead: I do not have a single favorite artist... I enjoy the performative aspects of Santiago Sierra, the writings of Rosalind Krauss, the strangeness of Jan Svankmajer...Our predecessors are what allow us to create. Nothing is original, we would not be where we are today so we must give recognition to all artists before us, as those in the future will give us.

What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person: I have yet to view a work in person that moves me. I appreciate all works, enjoy some, love others. However, the works I tend to be attracted to are not necessarily made in hopes of emotionally ‘moving’ someone.

Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work: I have many pets, all are equally curious of my works, especially my audible and kinesthetic works. They are however, uninterested in my 2D works and would rather make them a bed.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: I am in the process and hope of booking an exhibition in Miami Florida.
If you are an artist or gallery and would like to do an interview email

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