Hello Nathalie, and a warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries. I would start this interview with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art?

Thank you for your invitation. In my opinion, a work of art is the result of a thought, the visual outcome of a research, of an inner questioning that asks questions of the person looking at it. It can provoke a sensation, an emotion. It does not matter whether it disturbs, enthrals or provokes repulsion, what seems important to me is that it triggers a reaction (irrational feelings or contradictions, peace or chaos). Without a utilitarian purpose, the work of art is embodied in dimensions other than those in which the artist sought to create it. It exists by itself and responds to something that resonates with the observer. However, it falls within a theoretical and historical framework or within a movement that defines it and, moreover, it may get its status from the institution that supports it.

By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art?

What makes an artistic work contemporary, in my eyes, it that it is connected to a particular point in time. It can likewise be defined by the use of new materials. It is the fruit, the artistic visual result of our ideas, our contradictions, our questions or thoughts established according to the world around us. It reflects its era. It can detach itself from reality but it still establishes a conscious or unconscious connection with our daily life, our feelings, our ideas, our stories or our thoughts. It makes us think about or experience different views, feel emotions and leads us to break the rules of an earlier era, to always explore new horizons.

Do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Does being contemporary mean cutting oneself off from tradition? Even if some avant-garde artists refuse any affiliation with their predecessors, the artist always refers, one way or another through their knowledge or culture, to a past that is more or less recent. There is continuity rather than rupture, one era influencing another, a new approach that can be represented in a deconstruction or a parody. Means of representation evolve but traditions feed artistic inspiration. The use of new technologies allows us to go even further.

Would you like to tell us something about your background. Are there particular experiences that have impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training could even stifle a young artist's creativity... what's your point?

I attended various courses in several schools of fine arts in Paris which has allowed me to broaden and nurture my work on both a theoretical (Ecole du Louvre) and practical (Ecole des Beaux Arts, Ecole Estienne) level. The encouragement given by one of my professors, Hubert Rivey, who is also an artist, has also played a decisive role. Although I think a formal education can provide vital basic artistic skills, I also feel that it’s not right for everyone. It sometimes suggests certain means of expression that are different from what the artist may feel in their inner self, sometimes causing a sort of artistic “mould” in which personal creativity is erased. That being said, when the teaching is of a high quality, it pushes the student to set themselves free and explore new avenues.

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

Although I do not have any scientific training, my work takes an artistic approach that blends art and science. I generally start with a scientific reality relating to our identity (our DNA, our genetic code, our chromosomes, etc.). My intention is not to illustrate it, but rather to try to develop our interiority, which differentiates us from one another, in a visual form. I have always been fascinated by what makes up our identity, what we’re made of inside and what creates our uniqueness. In the work “The Degenerates”, which is a retranscription of the process of translating our genetic code into “random writing”, I wanted to highlight the contradiction that exists between the predetermination of our genes, and our free will which offers us the possibility of modifying our genetic attributes. Beyond a purely figurative form, I want to show our internal physical world, a world made of cells, bacteria, of genes full of fight, of animality, but which is not devoid of poetry. With regards to the cut-outs, it gives me the possibility to extract forms and to give them an autonomous “existence”. The act of cutting out changes the nature of the object. It is as if their detachment gives them greater freedom. It can take several weeks or months for my work to mature. No form or drawing is ever predetermined. It’s as if letting go of my imagination could be a metaphore for a time that we have no control over (of a future that we do not know).

Now let's focus on your art production: I would like to start with “Escaping the cell” that our readers can admire in these pages and that I would suggest them to view directly at your website http://www.nathalieborowski.com/plastazotes.html : would you tell us something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?  

This started with the idea of giving our human cells a form of autonomy. How to enable a form to “exist” outside its original confines? I chose to create an installation where “human bodies” are represented by sheets of polyurethane foam, a semi-rigid material that can be adapted to the abstract idea that I have of the body. I wanted to give a dreamlike dimension to our cells by giving the illusion that they could be represented in an almost irrational form as autonomous beings. This concept is not immune to the idea of being able to control what we are made of. We are composed of multiple organisms, cells, chromosomes, bacteria, and I wanted to give them their independence through a chimerical embodiment, to bring out our physicality by giving them animal characteristics (claws, paws, horns, etc.) that are not devoid of humanity (heads arms, bodies, etc.). By playing with the idea of the escape and autonomy of our cells, broken free from their original confines, I wanted to give the cut-out forms their own identity. Zoomorphic, anthropomorphic, ready to fight, independent but inseparable from their point of origin. The sheets defy gravity, the cut-out forms gathering in a single space where they seem to drift freely. The geometric structures reinforce the feeling of floating. Playful and organic forms, dark and light, a childhood landscape turning from black into white. They appear to evolve all by themselves. They seem to be escaping, are discernable but without an outline.

Another piece of yours on which I would like to send some words is Ping Pong of DNA, a work that I like very much: a feature of this piece that has mostly impacted on me is the effective synergy that you have been capable of establishing between a theoretical, abstract concept as DNA and such a tactile feature that we can receive by a simple ping pong ball... there's a stimulating channel of communication between apparently distant concepts that converge to an unexpectedly simple concept: our inner physicality...

This synergy is the result of a reflection on our DNA. It is the material support of our genetic information and I wanted to create a physical embodiment (animality) of this concept. In the strictest sense, the genome of each human being is unique (with the exception truly identical twins). Our cells are organisms to which I wanted to give several identical or comparable “individualities”. I have embodied the human cell in a ping-pong ball whose symbolism of its bounce gives it a dimension of movement, which evokes the continuously active renewal (perpetual) of our cellular activity. On each ball, an imaginary and unique form is drawn. These hybrid creations recall “chimeras”. In genetics, a “chimera” is an animal organism resulting from double of multiple fertilization, harking back in some way to the Greek myths of a fantastical hybrid creature and symbolizing a “multiple” of beings possessing the attributes of several animals. By placing the ball on a support or suspending it in the air, by stopping its movement, it allows me to freeze time and to play with the meaning or meanings of life. Removing the ping-pong ball from its original use as a play thing, dissecting it, I give it an autonomy reflected in the detachment from its “cocoon”. This celluloid material gives the cut‑out object the allure of a small solid form, yet fragile in appearance. Just like insects that have been studied, dissected and displayed, I distort an imaginary reality to produce ball cut-outs that give an animal dimension to the cells.

Being strictly connected to the chance to create a deep interaction, your artworks are capable of communicating a wide variety of states of mind: have you ever happened to discover something that you didn't previously plan and that you didn't even think about before? I'm sort of convinced that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal hidden sides of life and nature... what's you point?

My works attempt to recreate a world, to reveal an interiority, a concept, to open new horizons. Each day I discover things that I had not foreseen. When developing an idea, you’re also seeking an answer. The studio is a laboratory of freedom. I think that the artist can give another dimension to things that are hidden in an infinitely small world, reveal other aspects of them by giving them even an imaginary “visibility”. Making a concept accessible is to discover other spheres, other perspectives. Our relationship with the world is perpetually being redefined. Artists benefit from the freedom to create what they want, which means that they are likely to imagine, to reveal, to bring to light certain spheres that have never been discovered before because they are not obliged to produce a result.

One of the feature of your work that absolutely fascinated me is the symbiosis that you show between Art and Science... and I would go as far as to state that your work shows the artistic side of Science: by the way, maybe because I have a scientific background, but I’m sort of convinced that soon or later new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between Art and Science....I will dare to say that  Art and Science are going to assimilate one to each other... what’s your point about this?

I am not looking to illustrate a concept, but rather to show an interiority. I truly believe that art and science are not that different from each other, to the extent that the creation of a work of art approaches the work of a researcher. Artists and scientists use intuition, thought and imagination to discover new things. They do not follow the same procedure but they can have similar concerns. Experimentation and creativity are common demoninators for researchers and artists. I also think that there can be assimilation of one to the other. On the one hand, the arrival of technological advances enables artists to use new media such as information technology or robotics to create new works of art (BioArt with the creation of artificial life, for example). On the other hand, art provides access to data or facts that would otherwise be inaccessible (naturalist biology, historical evidence). Each supports the other, there is a perpetual interaction. Scientific concepts are increasingly subject to artistic questions, while certain scientific experiments (genetic mutations, etc.) raise issues that artists latch onto.

And I couldn't do without mentioning « CELLULAR LANGUAGE »... even though this might sound more than a bit naif, I have to confess that the first time that I happened to run against this interesting piece I have magnified the settings of my iPad in order to read the text... I've found very stimulating this work especially because it has suggested me the idea of a visual grammelot: a synesthesia between languages, since all in all, the DNA is a language... by the way, while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts? 

Indeed, I started with the fact that our DNA is a language. In fact, the human cell has a system for communicating with its environment that enables it to permanently emit and receive “messages” that reflect its spatial position. Exploring the universe of these “cells”, I decided to create a visual alphabet, symbolising a form of communication, an internal language. I therefore designed a playful and poetic "coded" typeface for which I designed each letter of the alphabet. Words, phrases or texts illustrate an internal “language” that is incomprehensible to those who do not know the code. Composed from drawings, it could refer to a synaesthesia recalling a visual grammelot. This invented language cannot be spoken, but we can suppose that if the drawings were interpreted, they could embody a form of communication. By transforming our language into a calligraphic typography, I invite the observer to enter this inner world using an interrogative approach — doesn’t our own internal “language” reflect the uniqueness of each one of us?

Your works have been exhibited in several occasions: you recently had a solo at “The Galerie” Talant - Dijon, and moreover you received a couple of grants...  it goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces

Indeed, grants from the state or prizes are a very motivating means of support because the precarious state of artists forces them to reevaluate themselves periodically, but they never influence my artistic process. Encouragement is always very appreciated when artists have self-doubt. Being selected at the end of my studies for the Salon de Montrouge* (Montrouge Contemporary Art Show) gave my work greater visibility among professionals and thereby allowed me to access a wider audience. But I do not take this latter point into consideration when I’m creating a work of art. I conceive it according to what I wish to achieve. Of course, feedback from the public is always very interesting, but it never determines my creative process.
* The most recognised institution in France for artists at the start of their career.

Just wondering if you would like to answer to a cliché question that I often pose to the artists that I interview: what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction? Well, actually ain't that cliché...

What I perhaps like the most about the creative process is moving from thinking about to creating the work of art. It allows me to structure my ideas, to make a visual representation of my research and it often leads me to other questions. I like being on a perpetual quest, and even if I don’t always find an answer to my own questions, it always sparks an exchange, a discussion with the public.

Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Nathalie. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of ?

I’m persuing my questions regarding identity, our inner universe by splicing the fields of art and science. I am experimenting with other materials and trying to establish some analogies. At the same time, I’m involved on a voluntary basis in an artistic programme in part of Paris (Le K.A.B*) where artists who are creating installations have the chance to exhibit their work. I invite the reader to visit my site to keep up to date with my news.


*Le K.A.B : http://kabatignolles.wix.com/arts