Odette Graskie is a young artist living in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is interested in the imaginative, interaction and line. Graskie’s work is influenced by the people around her, the everyday interactions that highlight humanity. Her process is strongly influenced by the flux between loneliness and solitude, and she always considers the viewer’s experience of an artwork as she makes it. One of her largest goals is to ask viewers to pay attention to what is right in front of them – and her work is often interactive and playful. Her drawings are documents of her own process of paying attention.
Graskie graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria in 2015. She works with storytelling in a variety of mediums, including textile art, ceramics and works on paper. She has a solo show entitled The Sorrows coming up at AVA Gallery in Cape Town. Recently, Graskie has exhibited her work as one of the featured artists at the Turbine Art Fair Installations Program. She has had solo shows entitled Human Noise at Millennium Gallery in Pretoria as well as Ambedo at the Centre or Contemporary Art in Poland, where she had a residency in 2017. Her work is to be exhibited in several group shows, including Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow at the Woordfees 2019, as well as a Talent Unlocked Program Reunion later in 2019.
About my Work
“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.” – Raymond Carver
Sonder: Sonder describes the feeling that one gets when realising that a random passerby has a life as vivid and colourful as your own. Sonder makes us realise that we are not always the main character. Everyone is their own main character, and you are merely a passerby to them.
Silience: The word Silience refers to the unseen brilliance that happens around us every day.
Sillage: Sillage can be described as the scent that lingers in the air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after someone has been and gone.
Vicarity: Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.
Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of our perspective.
Opia: The ambiguous intensity of eye contact.
Ambedo: Ambedo means to become totally absorbed in vivid sensory details of a place – the smell and the sights, and the touch. When we become still, we can let the world offer us something instead of always just giving it our words and actions. It can become something, show us its secrets, if we give the world a chance to speak.
My process starts with a phrase or word that I find through chance encounters or during my research that resonates with my idea of Human Noise. The phrase inspires a being that gives the word a life of its own. The depth of our vocabulary limits our ability to consider and explain things to ourselves, literally undermining our ability to think. This was theorised by Sapir-Whorf as Language Determinism. Therefore I would like to explore words and the way they can be interpreted in the real world. But like others who use words, I am a fiction creator. I use words in a way that brings fiction into the real world, so that viewers may experience a story that just existed because of one word. My artworks exist in different forms. Each word that inspires me is made into a zine, drawing or painting, and then a sculptural (creature) form. Each word spawns its own work in whichever medium it inspires, and sometimes one word can create a massive body of work.
For the Fresh Produce Exhibition, I have considered the words Occhiolism and Opia. Opia refers to the ambiguity of eye contact. Occhiolism refers to the awareness of the smallness of our own perspective. It is the flash of realisation that we are still only one in a billion opinions, and that we will never truly understand each other’s stories fully. I have created several drawings as well as two sculptures based on these words. The drawing is accompanied by a finders’ game.
The work is based on the characters of Argus and Rokurokubi, my two sculptures. Argus is the all-seeing Greek figure whose body is covered in eyes. Even when he sleeps, some eyes are still awake. The Rokurokubi is more limited. She is based on a myth about women who are afflicted with a curse, in which they become apparitions when they sleep. Their necks elongate and they visit other people, watching them, sometimes interacting, causing mischief. To me Argus and Rokurokubi are intertwined in a push and pull of being limited in perception – the push and pull between perfect vision and wanting to see more.
Meanwhile, the game presents the viewer with a chance to make assumptions about the people in the drawing. They will almost always be wrong in their assumptions, and trying to find certain faces. The viewer will be confronted with their own limited perspective. The drawings are also limited views of people, and the viewer only gets one image of a person – with no further words than what is presented here.