Nina Ołtarzewska (b.1998) is a French artist based in London. She briefly attended the Panthéon Sorbonne’s Fine Art course before moving to Northern Ireland where she graduated with a BFA in 2021 from the Belfast School of Art. She received graduate awards from Pollen Studios, PS², Platform Arts, the University of Atypical and Bbeyond. After being based in Flax Art Studios for a year, she moved to London to pursue an MA Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art, which she graduated from with distinction in 2024. As well as practicing individually in London, she is one fifth of SUCCESSFUL ARTISTS collective.

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The work I make is anchored in memories of an early 2000’s childhood, free from portable technology. The effects of smartphone usage on what I call the ‘Trial Generation’ [born 1995-2005], the first to access this device in their teenage years, has been at the centre of my practice for the past 4 years.

The installation work I make includes steel phone screens, steel objects, wax casts and sound work. The work is designed to be reminiscent of the feelings that are being actively pushed away when we take refuge in screens. The structural choices I make with metal are partly inspired by brutalist architecture - a series of bold geometric shapes, imposing a sense of physical threat. The coldness of the structures is both reinforced and softened by the presence of smartphones: the animated screens are inviting, always drawing us in despite ourselves.

I use sound pieces, which I compose and perform myself, to connect my audience back to a human, bodily existence. The softness of the echoing sound work, along with wax or latex forms suggestive of human anatomy undercut the sense of menace by referencing bodily attributes, both physical and vocal. Current installation work combines digital, sculptural and sound elements to create an environment, a moment in time, reminiscent of that ‘in-between’ space, where emotions are pushed away and forced to build up, before eventually being released from prolonged excess pressure.
My performance work comments on the lack of common knowledge and policy around the psychological effects of smartphones.More broadly it is critical of an age where the politics of the west are no longer designed to support the safety and wellbeing of those in need.

My aim is to call attention to the complex consequences of online connection and the information it produces. I examine how it disrupts intimate moments and how it has made its way into even the most private of spaces. I also address the enabling passive state it is known to create, often used as a tool by advertising companies and other agents of late-stage capitalism. Creating online content can be a positive act, adding to the sum of human knowledge - but it is also a means of planting ideas and exacerbating, distorting, manipulating anything that has ever been said. I explore the notion of influence within the scope of the digital world, with a growing interest in the notion of influence within the religious and political realms. 

© Nina Ołtarzewska 2023