10 Minutes with Pauline Batista

Pauline Batista (b.1988 Rio de Janeiro, BR) is a multimedia artist based in London. Her practice questions the impulse to render information and bodies transparent in the quest for ’the quantified self’. The artist creates her own networks that the viewers are invited to decode, through installations encompassing elements of photography, sculpture and sound frequencies.

She graduated from USC with a degree in International Relations in 2010 and completed her MFA at Goldsmith University in London in 2017. Among recent solo and group shows, she exhibited at: Museo Civico G. Fattori (Livorno, IT), GALLLERIAPIÙ (Bologna, IT), Houston Center for Photography (Houston, USA), ATP Gallery (London, UK) and CADAF Digital Art Fair (New York, USA). 

As we move on to our 11th week of our #10MinuteInterviews the format of the questions shift a little focusing on Pauline’s influences, five key words describing her practice, motivations and the significance of materiality in her body of work.

You are from Rio de Janeiro, studied your BA in LA and completed your MA at Goldsmiths whilst continuing your artistic practice here in London, how has living in many different cities have an impact on your work? 

It makes you question your own assumptions, you learn to adapt and to relate—every culture has its own ways of operating. 

Each city has influenced me in very unique ways and it is in the formation of a worldview which comes from these disparate locations that my own voice was formed within my practice. 

Another aspect which has deeply impacted my work was the experience of being a patient in all the different countries and cities I have lived. I have a slew of medical ailments that have been a big part of my life. An interest in the medical-industrial complex is one of the main pillars of my practice because of it. All these encounters and the aesthetics of the buildings and machines I interacted with for the past decade… it all seeps into the work. 

What has influenced your work the most? 

Books and friends. Friends who give me books. Books I give to friends. 

I just think better when I am allowed outside of my own head and reality. Making sense of the world doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So many works and ideas for me actually click in unexpected moments during a conversation or after reading a line in a book. 

I need solitude for parts of the process but there is much to be said about evenings where the concept of time is lost and endless ideas loop around each other from different minds and find connections in the unexpected crossings. 

The Algorithm Will See You Now III, 2017 
Silver gelatin print mounted on di-bond 
120 x 90 cm

Which five words would you choose to describe your practice?

Slow, digestive, layered, diaphanous, fiction. 

What motivates and  inspires you? What excites you to get up in the morning?

Art. The feeling of wanting to say something and the eternal, and always slightly failed, attempts at doing so. It is a never ending process and therefore always in motion. I also, perhaps naively, believe in its power. It can potentially be uncompromising in what it wants to say. Like works of fiction, it can go beyond data and information, it can bring about a unique type of knowledge which is shared and created in a dialogue between the work and viewer.

I am endlessly inspired by what my peers and friends are doing and working on in their own practices— in their world-making. 

Optimization station, 2019
pvc inflatable, dome speaker and audio frequency 
Image courtesy of  Artist and GALLLERIAPIU 
Photography by Stefano Maniero

What does diversity mean to you? 

Plurality of voices and ideas uninhibited by physical, cultural and structural barriers. 

What do you love to do in your free time? 

To be in nature and away from technology. Since so much of my work is informed by research into new technology and takes place in front of a screen, I need to turn it all off.

Disconnecting is the only way to unravel all the sensory and information overload. Nature brings clarity in its complex simplicity. 

You work with a range of media and materials, is tactility or size important in your practice? 

Absolutely. Tactility is such a big part of the process. So much of the making-process is about tact, touch and interaction with subject matter. For my last body of work water-balls and slime were heavily featured, for both their material tactility and their role as anti-anxiety devices. To think we have become so removed from ourselves that a return to touch becomes the strategy— there is a reason behind the insane popularity of these videos on YouTube and other platforms. 

The size then becomes about how the work relates to the physical and emotional body of the viewer. While I am not always capable of controlling the conditions of a space and exhibition, the viewer’s body is always at the core of the way I conceive and install the work. The narrative emerges from the works acting as props, the spatial relation, and the frequency activating the environment and body further.

Scraper installation, 2019
ceramic, polymer ball, 80 x 18 x 2 cm
Image courtesy of Artist and GALLLERIAPIU 
Photography by Stefano Maniero

What are you working on at the moment?

As with the first word I used about my practice, it is a slow process. I really need to sit with something for a long time before it begins to unfold itself to me in a conscious way. 

While I am still operating with some of the frameworks established with my last project Is Your System Optimized?, I am moving slightly sideways into a less scientific and more poetic way of thinking about the categorization of the body and matter in general. I am looking to build a world of un-doing, un-categorizing … increasingly searching for more openness and generosity.