Briefly describe the work you do.
I explore disaster, tragedy, memory and vulnerability through different mediums, ranging from printmaking to performance, to edible art and printed objects. I question the way we look at tragedy as well as the way we deal with the aftermath. In this series, all physical contact is a collision with permanent visible repercussions.
Crashes, of all kinds, are trivialized by their frequent appearances across the spectrum of information mediums. We have become desensitized to this sort of event, to the point of seeing it in a childish manner. We chew things up and spit them back out with no attempt at recuperation and no thought of consequences.
The viewers become voyeurs through the simple act of looking and emulating the rubbernecking that is so common on the roads. My work is funny, but car crashes are not – this is a difficult reconciliation in the viewer’s mind. I rely on humour, not only for providing an access point to the viewers, but also for challenging their morality. I use bright, friendly colours because the content is traumatic.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I was born in Romania but my family moved to Canada when I was nine years old. Since then, I have moved around quite a bit, I have lived in places such as Montreal, QC, Halifax, NS, Dundee, Scotland and finally Knoxville, TN. In retrospect, I believe that I am preoccupied with different forms of public transit because I have spent so much time traveling from one place to another. I think that I have been very fortunate in being able to experience so many different cultures and that also informs my work.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
As a printmaker, I consider the printshop my studio. Although I have a personal studio as well, I really thrive when I am surrounded by other artists making work so I prefer spending most of my time in the printshop. I spend time in my personal studio when I need to read and research, write or draw (this is when I toil away in one room). When it comes time to making prints though, all of my activity takes place in the printshop, from drawing on the stone or drawing the transparencies to printing and, if it’s a book or sculpture, assembling the prints.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I hadn’t envisioned myself as an educator when I first started making art but I have discovered that I love teaching. I love being able to share my passion for printmaking with people who are new to it! It’s such a delight to see them exploring my favourite medium.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I try and work as much as I can in the studio all day, every day. I’m in grad school working on my thesis right now so studio work is really my main focus. I generally tend to prefer mornings though.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?7. Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I actually started this body of work exactly five years ago! The crashes are consistent throughout but the way that I approach my work has changed quite a lot! When I began this project, I was mainly thinking about how desensitized we are, as a society, to crashes and other similar catastrophic events because they have become a spectacle in the media. Now I am also thinking about how we deal with the aftermath from disasters and the rift between those who are spectators and those who have experienced such life shattering events. Finally, although I started off making two dimensional prints, now I am making large installations or sculptural works with my prints.
As far as influences go, of course, Warhol has had a big impact on my work! I also really enjoy the work of Jonathan Schipper. Other influences include philosophers such as Paul Virilio, Jean Baudrilard, Guy Debord and author J. G. Ballard. Most of my inspiration for new work comes from the media though. I constantly keep my eye on the news for new spectacular crashes.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I think I would have been a mathematician. I used to compete in math contests at the national level in Canada and I really enjoyed the problem solving aspect of it. Even after I decided to study art in college, I took Calculus just for fun!
Raluca Iancu would like it known that she has never been involved in a horrific crash – that tumble on her bike while riding in Montreal notwithstanding. Nevertheless there’s something about vehicle collisions that she can’t look away from, returning to them as inspiration time and again.
Raluca Iancu works both two and three dimensionally, through several printmaking techniques, on
paper and on canvas. Her prints rarely deviate from the 8color crayon box palette, and when paired with thick line work, they become unobtrusive representations of fateful vehicular collisions. The pieces are superficially innocuous, even playful, but the lack of human presence makes the deserted, crumpled automobiles all the more perplexing.
Raluca Iancu received her BFA in Printmaking from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2012, and will earn her MFA in Studio Art, Printmaking, from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2015. She has exhibited internationally, and has held residencies in Newfoundland, New York City, Poland and Romania.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.