Born in Adelaide in 1963, Mira Gojak pursued science initially, with degrees in both Zoology and Psychology. She talks about a kind of restlessness that took hold while on practical placement, which necessitated a change of tack – in 1989, she moved to Melbourne to study painting at the Victorian College (then located in Prahran).
Working across disciplines, Gojak’s art is recognisable for its use of fluid line, both on paper and in sculpture. When approaching projects in 3D her work seeks to intuitively omit mass while retaining the form’s thumbprint.
Varia Karipoff—What are some of the values your parents instilled in you?
Mira Gojak—Study medicine and become a doctor.
VK—What was Adelaide like when you were growing up?
MG—Growing up in Adelaide with immigrant parents who kept within their own very Catholic Slovenian and Croatian community meant inhabiting different social or cultural groups that never quite overlapped.
VK—What were your interests as a child?
MG—No interests were allowed, only homework and chores.
VK—You studied science, majoring in Zoology and Psychology before taking a different path to an art career. How did you come to that decision?
MG—Art seemed like an arena that could hold my interests from disparate fields without having to hone in and specialise in one discipline.
VK—Was there a particular moment where you came up to that split in the road?
MG—When I felt ready to leave Adelaide and take on an adventure.
VK—What was the most important lesson you took away from art school?
MG—Friendships made at art school sustain you.
VK—You work across disciplines, is there a medium that you find more satisfying to work with?
MG—Drawing and sculpture are both as satisfying – either could not be sustained without the other. If I feel a certain inertia coming on when using one medium I flip to the other to reactivate the process.
VK—You’ve worked with some mass-produced objects such as Bunnings and IKEA furniture, reducing them to a suggestion of form. What have been some practical benefits to using these materials?
MG—These objects are mundane and every day, they have a perfunctory, make-do quality by not being too tightly tethered to notions of good design or high fashion tastes. As material for sculptures they’re cheap to use and easy to source and transport.
VK—What themes do you find yourself returning to in your practice?
MG—How the interplay of boundaries and boundlessness manifests in the construction of a sense of self, often presenting as forces and gestures that trace one’s bodily apprehension of weightlessness, or rather, I could say – the weight of weightlessness.
VK—A linear quality is inherent in both your sculp- tures and works on paper – what properties do your works attribute to the line?
MG—In recent works I have played around with a more pliable line – lengths of coloured yarn that can be used to create a form, a form that is also a mass of colour, which in recent works has been sky blue.
VK—Distant Measures, 2016 (where blue wool wrapped around linear sculptural forms measured the distance from earth’s surface to roughly where the sky loses its blueness to darkness) controls and confines the line, it departs from the intuitive expression of line in your previous works. Is this something you will explore further?
MG—Yes – when I had the idea of using line to cover an enormous distance I was able to find a way of using a line to create a form or mass. The line’s meanderings is not confined so much as interrupted or stopped, so that it can restart and circulate in a different modality. And the repetitive rhythmic wrapping creates a form that relates to its bare supports in a way that is akin to the notations of a body’s movement.
VK—You’ve described your hanging sculptures as objects that take up space while shunning mass. It seems like a fine balance. How do you know when you have it right?
MG—When I’m in the studio, experimenting with the materials and their possible permutations, sometimes there is the frisson you experience when something unexpected happens and you want to freeze that by leaving off at that moment. Other times, when all possible permutations are exhausted and you’ve had enough, you get to a point where you’re ready to accept that any more time spent on the work will overcook it. You accept this uncertainty by moving on to thinking about making the next piece and how it will respond or undo this doubt.
VK—Is your approach to art making more methodical or unregulated?
MG—Both but at different times in the process – it starts off as unregulated because I don’t want too many over the shoulder demands to impede progress. Once there’s some semblance of a work before me I become more critical and methodical with my set up, especially if I need to do a body of work for a project. But even after this stage the work will oscillate back and forth between methodological and the unregulated, so that I can still be critically engaged in making the work without being too closed o to those unpredictable chance accidents or wild card associations that can propel a work into more compelling or insightful terrains.
VK—What are you reading at the moment?
MG—I have a lot of books next to my bed waiting to be read. Sometimes I think they’ll be absorbed into my brain by sleeping next to them. On top of the pile is Jean Rhys, The Wild Sargosso Sea, recommended by a friend, Tamsin Green, who made a work about this sea without a shore, with its own ecology and bound only by four ocean currents circulating in the Atlantic. The book itself was inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and re-cast as a feminist, post-colonial prequel focusing on how a Jamaican woman, Antoinette Cosway, after marrying an Englishman and moving to England, is driven to madness.