Eszter Rosta’s practice investigates how the politics of bodies and subjectivities critically shift and engage with conditions of particular spaces, objects, and materials. She reimagines the body’s public dimension as object and temperament as always relational, creating sensory subjectifications of a precarious and powerful spatial extension; space is not literal, but discursive. Lacanian and Foucauldian theories of object, “the real,” and discipline and power resonate with goals to resolve and produce work that may uncover how different bodies experience and navigate particularly curated and affective objects and spaces.
Eszter lives and works in Toronto. She has recently exhibited at Gales Gallery, Gallery 50, John B. Aird Gallery, and currently has work up in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario at Queen’s Park. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Education from York University (2019), and will be attending the University of Alberta as an MFA candidate in September.
MultiplicityTO: You have a very informed and involved approach to your art. Can you tell us where you began or where you drew inspirations while attending York?
Eszter Rosta: Being there definitely made my practice grow a lot. When I started, I painted in abstract. I took a course in printmaking and I fell in love with it. I started working on the materiality and I don’t know where it came from – I was just experimenting with things, and I started to learn to love it a lot.
MTO: Have you always done art since you were young?
ER: It’s one of those things that sounds very corny, where I’ve always been doing it, and my parents always said, “Yeah, she’s gonna go to art school.” It’s one of those things we knew was going to happen. I think being in art school really helped with narrowing everything down in regards to what I wanted to do professionally.
MTO: More about your process – you create meaning through repetition, experimentation and engagements of process, how are these themes and actions important to your work?
ER: My work is mainly process based, so it’s super abstract and the process is where I gain most of the meaning from. In terms of actions, it’s a lot of experimentation and I’ll kind of roll with that. For example, I think I mentioned in my statement that I take a material and with intaglio printmaking you can put it in acid and it’ll manipulate the plate that you use, so kind of letting the chemical process and materials speak for themselves.
MTO: Going off of that, what attracted you to that form of technique [intaglio]? Especially as a technique with such a deep history in the arts.
ER: It was – again – me screwing around, for lack of a better word. And me just feeling like I knew I didn’t want to do representation anymore. For some reason, “just” drawing kind of bored me. Drawing on a plate and making super representational images. I kind of started this in second or third year, and I just started using the process of the printmaking itself to make things. My professor recommended a material to me to see how it would change the print that I make.
It started as more of an experimentation, and then it began getting more into actual materials, like wood. As well as unruly printmaking techniques similar to screen printing where you’re inking up a piece of wood on something that you drew, and you print that. But I didn’t want to use a press, and my goal last year was to break the traditionalism around printmaking. A lot of people in my program are super strict because you have to make registrations and a certain number of editions and I wanted to subvert that really hard. I was wondering how to push the maximum engagement I have with the materials themselves. So I would use the found pieces of wood and skids, and I would be printing those and showing them for what they are as objects.
form printed twice
found plywood, inked and relief printed onto cotton
from ‘the temperament of space’
MTO: About your minor in women and gender studies – how does that intertwine with your work, if at all?
ER: I’m very theory based in terms of my minor. I’m very into philosophy and theory and I find that it definitely helps inform what I do. I find that having some sort of critical background helps in producing a stronger form of work rather than just painting something and saying its a landscape. These ideas of bodily relations and how that relates to my work – I think I kind of started balancing between both of these disciplines, and looking at how theories of bodies and interactions with spaces can form the curation or production of my work.
MTO: Can you talk more about what you mean about bodies – do you mean our bodies as creators?
ER: Yes, the main things I look at are how power and different spaces can inform or mediate the way that you act around things. It is two fold - where when I’m making my work I’m very involved and don’t want to use a press. I’m on the floor printing with my hands, so there’s almost an inherent bodily aspect to the work itself. But in terms of curating things...I would keep looking at the pole in the middle of a room. You’ll walk around it in a certain way because you’re kind of conditioned to, and even in gallery spaces there’s this very strict rule of what you’re able to access or not touch or whatever. It’s not that I like people touching my work, but I want to make a different space bodies can feel more comfortable in or think critically about their own existence in that space.
"I want to make a different space bodies can feel more comfortable in or think critically about their own existence in that space."
MTO: I like that idea of going beyond the traditional gallery space… I think we are in a time and space where we have to go beyond the traditional.
Your joint exhibition with Ana Ghookassian Stages of an Extreme deals heavily with process and method as an overall theme. What kind of experience was it working so collaboratively and materially with another, while addressing your own individual process as an artist?
ER: So that was one of my favourite things and collaborations I’ve worked on because our work is very similar in the sense that we are both very informed on critical theory and philosophy. Ana and I became friends because of the similarities, themes, and aesthetics of our work. We named it Stages of an Extreme because of how we would push ourselves – like what we talked about in relation to the traditional gallery space – how we push ourselves to curate a space that’s against the grain, but also minimally because our work is very minimalist. We did our own pieces individually but we would communicate and inform each other on what we created. I would be looking at something that she made and I would think of something that I could make that would speak to it. There was always a direct relationship between certain objects – it being a object and process based show – and we did things in terms of stages of the extreme. For example: using the floor space. We didn’t want eye level. We wondered how can the way it’s displayed change someone’s experience?
the temperament of space
Found wood held with wool,
Found wood with ink
MTO: Do you feel like the exhibits are asking a question? Or is it you declaring that space is relative to everyone?
ER: It’s me kind of declaring it, to be honest. Me kind of being aware this is a certain space, and that’s the way that we will navigate it based on our social locations. The fact that I talk about philosophers like Lacan and Foucault are really informative in my work. I think in my artist statements I usually reference them. So I feel like there’s already a preconceived idea that it’s going to be informed by this particular discourse.
MTO: What are you up to now?
ER: I’m moving on to doing my Masters in September at the University of Alberta, and I’m doing Fine Arts. I’m going to be working hopefully at a bigger scale and push my work in a different province.