Member Monday: Tanja Pak

Member Monday > Member Monday: Tanja Pak

Member Monday: Tanja Pak

posted on 2:22 PM, March 28, 2016
Voyage, Glass, blue laser beam, metal. Photo: Boris Gabersik.

Tell us about yourself!

I graduated from the Academy of Fine Art of the University of Ljubljana, then earned a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London (1996). In Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I live and work in my studio, I am full-time professor, heading the glass and ceramics course in the Academy of Fine Art. I am creatively committed to the design of functional glass objects and artistic spatial installations.

Why are you a member of GAS?

I am glad I joined GAS soon after receiving my master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. I collaborated in an exhibition in Tampa in 1998, which was my first GAS conference. Ever since, it has been the most important source of communication with colleagues from around the world and an extremely important link to everything and everyone new in this field. It has opened doors to new areas and provided numerous contacts. If it weren’t for GAS, I would be very lonely with my work in my home environment.

If you weren't working in this field, what career would you choose?

Did I dream of growing up to become a ballerina ...? Seriously, I can’t imagine doing anything else. My work is rife with challenges as it is: it crosses over to fields of design, applied art, sculptures, large spacial installations, and architectural installations, where I collaborate with many different profiles of people. I include elements of music, architecture, light, theatre, and literature in my work; I flirt with other materials. All these make the field as wide as I could ever want.

What themes do you pursue in your work?

My work has recently become an expression of “reveries”, much influenced by the readings of Bachelard, Arvo Pärt’s music, my own writing, and a search for immensity and silence in the vastness of different landscapes, mirroring those inside a being. I think a lot about absence in the sense of non-presence, alienation, and yearning. I am questioning the line; not only the disappearing horizon line, but also the line as a border between being and not-being. Where does here stop and there begin? How defined / undefined is this line? How solid, how real? This vastness, longing, breathing, is what I have been striving to express in my work for the past couple of years. Its essence. An essence that leaves the viewer space to dream. My installations are never there to illustrate a certain atmosphere or feeling. They are there to provoke them, to produce them. They are intimate stories, sensations, and the search for sensations. I struggle to capture the moment and form of emergence in the nuances between whiteness and shadow.

For me, an idea never comes as a momentary inspiration. It always arises from external impressions; translations of visual, audio, or tactile stimuli into an inner world of emotions and feelings. This is my great challenge: to capture the idea, the feeling, in the material, which then becomes non-material, so that it almost disappears as a material thing.... to capture the essence of a thought, a dream, a yearning.

What's something about you that most people don't know? 

I like to retreat into silence completely. The kind of silence that challenges the brinks of being, much in the same way the whiteness in my works does. Together we dive deep down into the endless blue, we travel to the desert, which can be eerily silent. Or, I invite my son to join me in climbing a glacier’s wall.

Another thing might be my enthusiasm for my work at the Academy of Fine Art and Design. Through dialogue, I mold the most living material of them all: my students. They are in love with the medium, which was never before perceived in this way in our environment. This is where I can be individual, creative, everything I am as a person - while also passing on knowledge and dreams, and being a part of joint plans that evolve into unpredictable fruits of the future.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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