Izabela Pluta’s An over air pursuit of likeness (formation study 1-7), 2021 was made as the artist developed a commission as part LoveArt’s ‘Love[for]Art’ project during COVID-19 lockdown in the winter months of 2021. Expanding outwards from the original installation of two composite images affixed to a wall and a mirror, these new photographic works continue to reference a photograph Pluta’s father took from an aeroplane window in 1987 when her family emigrated from Poland to Australia.
The series 7 photographs blend visual and textual sources, and have been made by drawing on Pluta’s copy of Cloud study: a pictorial guide (1960) to determine the weather and cloud patterns occurring on the day she and her family left Poland. Selecting the page that closely described the type of clouds recorded in her father’s photograph, the artist worked by selecting the pages and imagery that signalled to the type of clouds captured in her father’s photograph. She then used the cyanotype process to collapse both sides of the book’s page in a set of contact negatives. Pluta is interested in the different ways that making a contact negative with cyanotype creates a unique image that is not reproducible in the same way again. The process harnesses sunlight as an exposing device and enables the artist to engage with the climatic conditions inherent in the source imagery and with the scientific origins of the source text. Pluta then cuts, collages, scans and enlarges the cyanotype to create images that merge two sides of the original page. She works from the contact negatives to further complicate the image plane embracing the horizontal tears that occurred through the process of physically superimposing one image onto another, implying a sense of spatial and temporal rupture. While some of the text is decipherable, other parts undulate away and become blurry as a result of the cyanotype process.
This work echoes Pluta’s interests in drawing on and repurposing reference materials such as outdated atlases and pictorial dictionaries to reconsider navigation and land demarcation systems, creating works that query the concept of territory and deep time. She employs imagery, video and re-purposed ephemera that speak to present-day questions about impermanence, belonging, the flows of migration and her personal narrative in relation to place.