GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Tanja Pak: I’ve just completed two large glass installations inside the castle of Ljubljana, situated in the heart of Slovenia’s capital. One is situated in the castle’s Pentagonal tower, a 14-1/2-meter-tall structure (48 feet), the other in the Casemates, the extra fortified area of the castle spanning 30 meters in length (98 feet). The elements of light and music are also integrated in the installation.
I’ve been exploring the form of a droplet for a decade now, including in an earlier installation I did at the castle. For me, the form represents a held breath; a moment of time, frozen; a memory in disappearance; fluidity itself. I chose the Pentagonal tower of Ljubljana’s medieval castle for The Moment After installation. It is said that disobedient girls were once upon a time locked in castle towers. In my opinion, the disobedient included the dreamers, the ones who dared to dream. The installation is based on the musical composition “Fur Alina: by Arvo Part, performed by piano player Bojan Gorišek. This music always felt to me like raindrops falling through me, rather than around me. The light fades slowly and very subtly, changing intensity from one group of droplets to the next, thus enhancing the feel of flowing. The inox constructions appear as upside down reflections of water disturbances following the fall of a drop to the surface. The droplets are rain; they are memories, thoughts, feelings and dreams…
The Dreaming Away installation is set up in the fortified section of the castle, sometimes called the casement or casemate. In this space in Ljubljana’s castle I felt the palimpsests written in its 30 m long rough walls, I felt the breathing coming through a small opening in its south wall, and I felt the peaceful energy of the space. Disappearing into the darkness, 136 pate de verre glass boats are floating in nothingness. Heavy stones at the entrance seemingly try to hold them back, while on the other side the space opens up and allows to exhale. Like The Moment After, this installation is also underlined with the music of Arvo Part, in this case his composition “Spiegel im Spiegel,” as well as a very subtle and gently fading light, invoking the impression of flowing. To soften the step, the floor is covered with black granulated rubber. Dreaming Away is all about longing and tranquility, breathing in and out again.
I’m currently working on “A Walk in the Desert” series. The beginnings of this project go a year back to my residency in Pilchuck. The series consists of sand carved and slumped layers of Bullseye glass and includes the element of light which imparts a three-dimensional quality to the glass. Into the White is a series of layered Bullseye glass, squares through which different shades of white intertwine with traces of texts and light. Both series were inspired by a journey to the Death Valley, by the feeling of silence and the sensations of coloured layers of rock. They will be exhibited at Ljubljana’s castle.
For 2011, I’m planning a large exhibition in a Gothic cathedral now serving as exhibition space. I plan to dedicate most of my energy to this project. It goes without saying that in addition, I constantly design new series of glassware, manufactured in collaboration with Slovenian glass factories. For me, the diametrical opposition between creative thinking in the process of manufacturing and designing on the one side and creating sculptures and installations on the other remains an everlasting challenge and source of energy.
GLASS: What artwork have you experienced recently that has moved you, and got you thinking about your own work?
Tanja: I believe inspirations are constantly deposited in layers within us in the forms of impressions and sensations, waiting for the right moment in the process of creative thinking to give them a form, put them in a context and fill them with meaning. Life is a series of coincidences and it is upon us to walk around with our eyes open and recognize them … For me, a source of inspiration can come from music, a certain performance, a book, a thought scribbled down on the margin of a piece of paper, a detail in a rock wall, a sense of silence in a desert, a feeling. Essentially these declarations are one and the same, they are feelings and emotions, being translated into fixed records.
Deeply imprinted in my memory is a sense of two tides touching in the North Sea, something I’ve experienced off the coast of Scotland, not far from North Lands Creative Glass. A sense of silence and calmness of the universe in the “desert of death,” the infinite vastness of the ocean. The music of Arvo Part, Satie, Glass, all of these composers influence my work. The book of installations by the ikebana master Amira Matsuda is another source of inspiration, as is the space itself which I try to “read’ and insert my own personal stories in its ancient hidden records. A sentence in a performance, spoken in a specific tone. Light making its way through the fog in layers. The turquoise blueness of the water. Circles forming on the water after a stone hit the surface. But most of all feelings, moods and emotions accompanying all these sensations.
Water is always present in my work. Water as movement, constant flowing, as a breath taken in and let out. Maybe this is because its nature is close to my comprehension of glass. I try to feel the way it will flow while I mould it, too, how it will embrace a certain form in a moment, like a winter river, frozen in time. Like a frozen breath. Water as a reflection of light, as a never-ending journey, as a flow of thoughts, emotions, light. As a longing, making us keep chasing the unattainable.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see you work ?
Tanja: The castle of Ljubljana in Slovenia’s capital I already mentioned hosts two open multi-media installations until the middle of February., The Moment After (with music by Arvo Part/Fur Alina, performed by piano player Bojan Gorišek, and light design by Strle lighting) in the Pentagonal tower, and “Dreaming Away” (with music by Arvo Part/Spiegel im Spiegel, performed by piano player Bojan Gorišek and violinist Vasilij Meljnikov, and light design by Strle lighting) in the Casemates. Some of my designs are exhibited in Glesia gallery in Ljubljana. Permanent public exhibitions of my work can be found in various collections and corporate buildings all over Slovenia, in Ljubljana’s castle, the Thermana Spa resort in Laško, and the public library in Kobarid. During my residency at the Creative Glass Center of America I created a piece which is now exhibited in the Museum of American Glass in Millville, New Jersey. My work is also featured in the book Contemporary Glass by Blanche Craig, as well as in International Glass Art by Richard Yelle and Red Dot Design Books from 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, among others. An overview of my work can be found on my personal Website.