Interview with Natasha Kidd

Natasha Kidd Sculpture

Flow and return (installation shot), 2006. Copper pipe, compression joints, aluminum and steel panel, peristaltic pump, tank and white emulsion paint. 1.8m x 20m x 50cm

Natasha Kidd turns paintings into sculptures. She constructs sleek modernized versions of Jean Tinguely’s ‘Méta-matics.’ Tinguely’s drawing machines from the nineteen-fifties cast into question artistic authorship by mechanically producing frantic abstract artworks. The drawings themselves were only souvenirs. In contrast, Kidd’s canvases are compelling with their deep white drips and textured surfaces. But they cannot compare to the handsome arrangement of pipes, metal containers and machinery that make them. In today’s creative context, Kidd’s “paintings” comment on an artistic environment where nameless human hands make famous artists’ works and art can be mistaken for another high-end consumer produce. Here Kidd contributes her insights into these issues and the question of whether she, as the creator her painting machines, is a painter or sculptor.

AFH: How interested are you in the final product your performative sculptures produce?

NK: The “product”, if it is appropriate to call it so, is contradictory. Production of it is essential so that I can engage in the act of producing the machines themselves.

The fascination for me is both in the production process of the physical machines and then the process the machines perform.  The machines move from produced to producing.  The “making” of the machines suck in expertise in order for them to come about. The conversations with the individuals drawn into the production of the machines give form to them and then machines themselves give form to the objects or products. The objects/products are therefore essential and residual at the same time.  When the machines are stopped the objects/products are like memories of their performances.

Natasha Kidd Sculpture

Overflow (installation shot). 2006. Copper pipe, compression joints, aluminum panel, peristaltic pump, Perspex and white emulsion paint. 1.8m x 1.5m x 0.5m

AFH: What factors determine your sparse palette?  Do you feel your concept is more articulate when color doesn’t complicate it?

NK: Paint is used because it is a material that is in one state …liquid but then in another …. solid.  It has the ability to maintain it liquidity in the system but cling to the surface of the objects and dry at the right rate. The paint is in a transformative state- being mechanically controlled.  White seems to be the only color that gives as much of the attention as possible to the material itself.  Paint is the perfect material – it captures the moment of its previous liquidity.

Painting machine I, 1997. Compressor, air cylinder, pipes, piston, timers, Perspex, canvas and white emulsion paint. 1m x 1.8m x 0.4m

Painting machine I, 1997. Compressor, air cylinder, pipes, piston, timers, Perspex, canvas and white emulsion paint. 1m x 1.8m x 0.4m

AFH: To me, your work comments on all the unseen producers creating high-gloss, high-priced, high-production painting. Do you intend your work to be a critique of big-named artists’ studio practices?

NK: The machine are provocative and ironic.  They allude to mass production but are utterly inefficient.  They question authorship but are meticulously attended to in their production by hand (the holes in the surface of the panels are cut individually).  The machines come out of a dissatisfaction with presenting something fixed in time or static. I am intrigued by the event in the work, the performance, the witnessing ….live.  In all the work potential is critical… The view encounters something that is in a constant state of incompletion.  I want to make visible that space of not knowing that is so prevalent in the studio.

AFH: How are your painting machines cleaned and maintained? Is their upkeep part of the work?

NK: The up keep of the machine after the point of installation or keeping the machines “alive” is becoming more and more relevant.  In the recent work installed at Modern Art Oxford the team of staff were given a series of instructions for operating, maintaining or ‘tinkering” with the work.  They performed with it, speeding up or slowing down the flow rate to each panel or filling the tank with paint to keep it operational.

AFH: Can you name a few painters whose work really excites you? Are into more Ad Reinhardt than Dana Schutz? Brice Marden vs. Koons?

NK: I seem to be more drawn to performance or instructional practices.  The works I make are governed by the rules of painting (even though they are long broken/stretch) maybe it’s the “rules” that are important.  I enjoy what the history of the discipline of painting provokes.

By Ana Finel Honigman

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