Meet the artists: Skye Wagner

Meet the artists: Skye Wagner

Skye in the studio. Photo credit: Luana Rigolli.
Skye in the studio. Photo credit: Luana Rigolli.

An interview with Skye Wagner, National Art School, Sydney, Resident, in which she speaks about the work she has produced during her residency at the BSR from September–December 2022, ahead of the Autumn Open Studios.

The sensorial technique in Baroque architecture have been informative in your practice. How have you expanded this topic while in Rome?

I am interested in how multiform baroque spaces offer complex forms of spatiality and affect. I have visited several sites in Rome to study their properties, including the Borghese Gallery, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Barberini and Sant’Andrea della Valle. In these spaces, there is a density of surface depiction and medial layering; wall and ceiling frescos, stucco, and architectural details impinge on each other in perceptually confounding ways. In these spaces, I am drawn to the baroque application of Trompe l’oeil, a strategy for creating a virtual space that makes material and pictorial distinctions challenging to discern. Its use can confound the reading of the ‘real’; I have visited spaces where the painted marble surface appears more real than the actual marble. This performance between surface, material, and illusion produces a slippery atmosphere for seeing and not seeing, which I find compelling.

Image: inside Stanza della Segnatura, Raphel’s room at the Vatican. The image shows visitors photographing their tickets that depict Plato and Aristotle in front of the School of Athens fresco.

In my studio in Rome, I have been experimenting with ways to stage acts of seeing, depiction, and process. I have been working with images–as things–that can be cut, folded, moved, and rephotographed in physical space. These images contain an excess of fragmented content: food, cute animals, consumer products and body parts. The aim has been to animate this content/images towards contingency, the capacity to be multiple, porous and in motion.


Image: shelves at Carrefour showing food packaging 

An assemblage of architecture, sculpture and images will be on display at the Autumn Open Studios Night. It started with a poster sent via mail from your studio in Sydney to the BSR and it’s been growing on the walls of your studio over the past three months. Could you describe how this project has developed, reflecting on these beginnings and where you have now arrived?

It started with me trying to think through how I would work during my time in Rome. The challenge was finding a resonant way of working in a new studio context without the same material support. This led me to consider how I could transfer my studio practice, which often includes the recursive use of images. To approach this challenge, I adopted a literal gesture where I built a sculptural assemblage in my studio in Sydney before I left, photographed and printed it in sections and sent it (with the image on the exterior) to Rome. On their arrival, these images–with the evidence of their transit–became the starting point for my studio installation. I attached these fragmented sections to my studio wall and have been working with them since, adding, modifying, layering and allowing the assemblage to grow.

This way of beginning/becoming has been generative as it has allowed me to explore how transformation occurs through translation, movement, and material contexts. In the studio, I am trying to keep this energy of transition and openness by creating a space where studio methods and acts of display co-constitute.

 
Image: work in progress detail, British School at Rome, November 2022

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