Video installation artist Lenka Novakova has always been fascinated by the reflective and refractive quality of light, and how it can change people’s perspective.
“I’ve pursued art most of my life, and through light, I try to create certain experiences for the viewer within a specific space,” says Novakova, who received her Master of Fine Arts from Concordia in 2010 and is currently working towards her interdisciplinary PhD in Humanities, which includes studies in social sciences and fine arts.
“I work with light because of the dimension: you can alter objects, space, and also the psychology of the viewer. I use projectors to feed different types of light into my videos.”
Novakova produces large projects that travel around the world. Her work has been exhibited in galleries across Canada, the U.S., Korea, and Brazil, and she has won dozens of awards.
Novakova recently returned from a prestigious weeklong artist-in-residence position at Centre SAGAMIE, the National Research and Exhibition Centre for Contemporary Digital Art, located in Alma, Que.
Artist-in-residence programs enable artists to live somewhere temporarily while working on an art project. They typically offer space and equipment designed to encourage creative work. Considered one of the finest photography centres in Canada, SAGAMIE specializes in computer art and experimental print design. It supports 50 artists each year who are doing innovative, contemporary visual art projects that explore digital image manipulation and large-scale digital printing.
SAGAMIE provides its artists-in-residence with room and board, a full-time technician, complimentary access to specialized equipment, plus free printing tests and an honorarium to create final prints for their art projects.
“I approached SAGAMIE because I wanted to explore another medium alongside my installation work: photography,” says Novakova, who spent October 15 to 19 in Alma.
“They’re really dedicated to helping artists, and for me, being there was very productive. My technician helped me select the right printer and paper to make sure my photos had the best results.”
Novakova has done other artist-in-residence programs in New York, New Mexico, and Norway.
For the past year, including the time spent at SAGAMIE, the Czech-born artist has been developing ‘In Between the Light and the Darkness,’ a multi-media project she expects to complete by 2014. Her inspiration? A series of 24 Baroque sculptures scattered throughout Kuks Hospital in the Czech Republic. Created between 1712 and 1731 by renowned sculptor Matyás Bernard Braun, the stone statues depict various virtues and vices.
Novakova spent the entire summer at Kuks Hospital, taking hundreds of photographs. “All my imagery was produced at night with my own illumination of the statues,” she recalls. “Lots of the images go from very dark to completely white images, so there’s this scope of shade, where the statues are appearing and disappearing. From these, I will construct videos using animation.”
The former hospital is now a cultural monument, adds Novakova. “It’s this amazingly huge space with arched ceilings. I’m going back there next August to do an interactive installation and performance directly onsite, and I’m also producing similar works for galleries in Canada.”
• Lenka Novakova
• Centre SAGAMIE
• The historical landmark that inspired Novakova’s art project