Cover image of the review
Installation view. Izabela Pluta, Variable Depth, Shallow Water (2020), silver gelatin photographs, pigment prints on aluminium, dye-sublimation prints, polyester waddling straps, two-way acrylic, aluminium, polyester resin, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, 2022. Image courtesy the artist, UNSW Galleries and Gallery Sally-Dan Cuthbert. Photo: Daniel Boud.

Izabela Pluta: Nihilartikel

19 Feb 2022
UNSW Galleries 15 Jan - 6 Mar 2022

In 2018, Izabela Pluta went diving off the coast of the Japanese island, Yonaguni, where the Pacific Ocean meets the East China Sea in a stretch of powerful currents. Since that trip, Pluta has drawn on the physical experience of deep-water diving and its disorienting effects on sight, using it to influence her approach to perspective—-both literally and conceptually. The sensation of being disoriented underpins the work currently exhibited at the UNSW galleries, under the title Nihilartikel.

Nihilartikel is the German word for the deliberate errors that appear in reference books, which indicate the work is a copy and—-in the case of cheap music scores—-avoid copyright infringement. They are, then, both markers of the distance between the original and the copy, and a form of evasion. I think of scores because that’s how I first encountered the phenomenon. Cheap, “unofficial” sheet music is frequently marked with ‘wrong’ notes that, if not corrected by the person using the score, create aural combinations of a distinctly different colour. Across Pluta’s work, these blue notes are used to play with the way the meaning—-or weight—-of images changes over time and to show that how we record something is always arbitrary and incomplete.

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