Marriage to the Edifice – Installation by Tina SALAMA – Photography by Heleana GENAUS.

Tina, can you introduce yourself and your background? Where does your creativity comes from? How has it evolved?

I’ve always been making things and been surrounded by creative projects. Growing up my father, although not an artist by trade was continually working on paintings, sculptures and landscaping projects. I was raised on a large property where family time meant landscaping and building projects. Weekends were spent wheelbarrowing soil, cutting wood, planting and the dreaded weeding.

Considering this upbringing combined with a love of both art and mathematics, I suppose it’s not surprising that I undertook an architecture degree. Alongside architecture I also studied philosophy and sociology at the university. My studies came to really mean something to me when I began to use architecture as a testing ground for philosophical ideas and vice-versa. The possibility for the built or the material to test the conceptually absurd, yet intuitively irresistible is something that has become intrinsic to the way I work.

At what stage of your life are you now? What place and role does your art practice occupy in your life at the moment? Where do you seek and find inspiration? Can you describe your work in a few words?

For me, it’s an interesting time at the moment. I’ve taken a leap of sorts to explore with more time, dedication and depth a way of working and thinking that has underpinned my practice for several years. This means a practice of continual drawing, reading, re-reading, writing, obsessing and making. At the moment this exploration has been paramount. I’ve taken some risks, leaving a full-time research position with the university to explore my own territory. I cover bills with casual tutoring in the architecture schools and occasional pieces of freelance work. This space I’ve given myself has opened up opportunities for working on a series of endeavors I never would have anticipated. Styling work for a gorgeous print / stationary boutique called Little Branch and working on the creative production of a very epic video clip for Sparkadia are a couple of examples.

In finding inspiration, I’m always reading and watching documentaries. Traveling also tends to drive me into productive frenzies. I’m quite hungry to understand how society came to be the way it is. For example at the moment I’m interested in a distinct shift early last century from the citizen to the consumer in western society and statements such as “the private is political”. These sorts of explorations and observations feed into a way of working; they influence process and the methodology for testing. 

The series of photographs from “Marriage to the Edifice” show a performance / site-specific installation which began with an interrogation of entropy, a concept of physics where everything in the universe tends towards homogeneity. A “test” was carried out via a performance entitled, “Dizzy in Martin Place”. In this performance I spun in Martin Place and paid keen attention to the experience.  What I discovered in this simulated entropic experience was a simplified structure of urbanity: a blurring of features into cylindrical shafts and blurring distinctions between body and urban space. From here the work moved toward the irresistible concept of a body-building hybrid, a monster or chimera where the space of the body and the space of the building exist in a literal and materialised union.

I am interested in revealing absurd possibilities as actualities whose materialisation speak directly about everyday experience, particularly regarding the human corporeal spatial experience. Our language is one of images and direct connections to the id. I hope to speak the language of our time, participating in a relation to underlying desires and the subconscious, but for these works to move through the primal and the profane and in the end arrive somewhere unthought but present.

What does your short-term future look like? What does it mean to you to live a creative life?

This year began with a series of very ambitious and large-scale performance / installation projects. I anticipate the next phase of work will be spent largely at the drawing table. Alongside this, I have small scale design projects which are being realised as well as my thesis writing and teaching which I love.

My art practice and methodology are critical to me but I have always worked across writing, art and design. For me, a fulfilled work practice involves a diversity of projects which feed into one another… staying stimulated, moving and feeling genuinely alive- sometimes due to a large degree of terror caused by the scale and/or absurd nature of the work. I suppose this engaged movement and total immersion in a series of works is how I would define being creative. 

To learn more about Tina’s work and stay in touch with current and upcoming exhibitions, click here and here

Heleana Genaus, a friend and photographer, was asked to document “Marriage to the Edifice”. As an engaged observer, this is what she has to say about the experience of setting up such a large scale installation and the beauty that was revealed once the dust, and Tina, settled. 

For as long as I’ve known Tina she has boldly pursued beauty in the built environment with a good balance of wonderment and purpose. When she asked me to document her latest work, I excitedly accepted even before I knew what the work was. Tina casually explained the installation to the effect of “I’m going to marry a building…” naturally I wasn’t surprised by the boldness of her intention and excited by the beauty I would be capturing. When I arrived to the site, Tina was on the roof screaming out instructions and receiving them from friends and family employed with Tim Tams to help erect the heavy fabric over the building. Once the final tugging, twisting, untangling, pegging was done and all seams were in place, Tina then stepped into the fabric revealing a dress! When she said she would be “getting married” to a building, I wasn’t sure what to expect but once she stepped into that dress it all made complete sense.

I was employed to document the process of erecting the installation but found that in doing so, the role of the installation revealed itself with every pull, tug and flick of the fabric. While highlighting the manipulative nature of the body compared with the rigidity of the built form, the installation also balanced the two extremes of this relationship, that is; stubborn vs fickle, stable vs manipulative, urban vs organic. The stability of the building, through the mass and weight of the fabric, grounded Tina’s body almost instantly, slowing down her movement and restricting the way she could explore the building and surrounds. On the other hand, Tina was able to manipulate the fabric to better experience a draft of wind, or blur and reveal the edges of the building with a few steps. Boldly using a neutral element, such as white fabric, Tina has helped illustrate weaknesses and strengths in our relationship with the built environment through something beautiful.

Heleana was the first person to be interviewed on Aloud. You can see her interview here and of course, click here for her website. 

© All photos are copyright of Heleana Genaus. 

Some of these photographs were recently exhibited in a show entitled “In Bed with a Building” at Firstdraft Depot Gallery. The performance work “Marriage to the Edifice” as photographed by Jack Dunbar and Tosha van Veenendaal is currently being exhibited as part of the Prague Design Quaddrenial.

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4 comments

  1. Jane

    Quite an astonishing concept particularly during this season of princely weddings … At times Tina looks like a queen bee positioned proudly at the entrance of her hive.

    This is a wonderful statement by an architect and by a woman. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Christo wrap buildings and bridges but having a human being also enveloped in the material is far more refreshing and lively.

  2. ~ Wonderful beautiful & powerful…
    I love these words …
    “… the role of the installation revealed itself with every pull, tug and flick of the fabric.”

  3. That installation is amazing. I have never in my life seen anything quite like it.

  4. Hi Steff,
    Thanks for dropping by. Hopefully, you will find things here that inspire you as much as your findings inspire my imagination.
    Hoping to see you here often,
    Cheers, L.

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