Des Moines
Des Moines

this week

weekly art forecasts from Central Iowa

Who’s exhibiting and opportunities for artists

Under Control and Measured

Tatiana Klusak’s Under Control, Fluxx Gallery

January 2013


Gallery view of “Hardworking Mechanism” and “The mustard lover’s mustard." Photo Jon Pearson.

Review by Jon

January 10, 2013

In the sculpture and video work of Tatiana Klusak we are given the chance to confront questions relating to identity, work, and valuation measurement. The work is cerebral but deeply rooted in a physical manifestation of the concepts through the creation of devices whose purposes, though wholly relative to a need, are ridiculously unwieldy. The work affords us the opportunity to dialogue about our relationship with work, and  socially acceptable, or productive norms. 

The piece "Hardworking Mechanism” from the series “Forcing Devices” explores not only a societal need for production and the faceless worker to complete mundane tasks, but the restrictive and sometimes painful labor which is derivative of such practices. The piece was labeled with the notice to “please touch, handle with care,” so I strapped myself in. The immediate sensation of immobility as I did so was followed shortly by a testing of my limitations. I was able to make small jerky motions with my feet as the leg armatures were built to swivel and step, albeit slightly. I was also aware of the pieces of metal that I was strapped to digging into the backs of my legs as if they were ill suited to a person of my stature. The discomfort and sense of immobility that I experienced seemed to be a physical manifestation of the psychological discomfort I sometimes feel in carrying out my day to day tasks as a worker bee.


“Mustard cake" Photo Jon Pearson.

"The mustard lover’s mustard,” is another meditation on the mundanity of labor with a twist. In this piece Klusak is exploring the notion of being both the worker and the overseer. The artist is seen deliberately and measuredly portioning and subdividing slices of bread with a pair of scissors. From time to time the measurement of the labor is insinuated by referring to a stopwatch and penciling down results. The pieces are given squirts from a mustard container and eventually end up being pounded into a cake form. Apparently mustard makes great cake glue, as the cake is on display in the gallery as well. The tongue in cheek use of silly materials used in the creation of a silly product are balanced by the overall seriousness and intensity with which the worker/overseer produce the product.


“RFM (Rod For Measurement)” modeled by Isaac Ewart Photo Jon Pearson.

The “Rod For Measurement” Is coyly intended to be a tool with which a person can measure and compare traits in another person. The piece addresses and makes a case for the need for such measurements of arbitrary skills and character traits, stating that it “resolves mankind’s inability thus far to thoroughly and accurately measure humans. The writing that accompanies this tool adds to the complexity of the ideas by inventively creating acronyms synonymous with the use of the device. The artist is taking liberties here by dictating important characteristics that could potentially become the total sum of a person. The writing also alludes to a method of notation that was developed to sort the data measurements of the RFM. See the text below for a good read.


Writing piece "RFM" Photo Jon Pearson.

In sum, this show presents a depth of substance and an integrity that deepens when the artist’s statements and the work are explored thoroughly. The pieces themselves contain many didactic elements. One element of the show that seemed unnecessary was the inclusion of two lithographic prints which slightly pertained to the sculpture but seemed an after thought. See more of Tatiana’s work and writing here.