Poliptyk. VII Biennale Wobec wartości, Archdiocese Museum, Gallery of Contemporary Art BWA, Katowice 1998; pp. 51-55.
A Man on a Carpet
According to everyone’s needs – in communism.
The only truth – in Church.
Independent views – in mass media.
Critical attitude – on the market.
Nonsenses of the twentieth century…
…Zofia Kulik wrote after receiving the invitation to take part in the exhibition entitled “Towards Values”. Such a title sounds to me like an appeal – in various meanings of the word. It is to appeal to our consciences for love, truth and good. It sounds like a pathetic order, when the ranks close and the colour parties protrude. It reminds of evening assemblies at summer camps where clean feet and innocent souls had to be presented. We are moving in a rich space – military and Freudian, that discipline the body and construct the subject – like devoutly concentrated mourners participating in a chronic appeal of values killed in action of civilisation. When inflated air-souls are pulled by winds of history, pneuma becomes adjacent to pneumatics, and the work of mourning, technology of life and technocarnival come together. Our feeling of apocalypse may be, and is, like an unbridled desire with which we rush to consume the world. In the run towards a more comfortable life we say that communism has been reducing people to their needs, while making those needs inattainable. In fact, the Church would fall down without the dogma of the Only Truth, existence of media depends on the terms of “views” and “public opinion”, and the critical attitude appears on the market. We say so, because language should be comfortable, too. And I can’t even say that the words lost their importance, because thus I would sign – what I don’t want to – the appeal of those who claim they live in Babylon or Sodom. The paradox of the situation consist in that most radical conservatists (if it does mean anything) that “exorcise the post-modern devil of relativity” are approaching those “devils” in their recognition. But if Baudrillard among the verses of his recognition shows what does mean to be a plastic philosopher, who is to deal on the market, fighting squadders of value take over the apocalyptic vision with all the blessing of the medial “hype”, talking about surrounding catastrophes. We live in a country, where heritage of soc expression that is deprived of meaning, taken again and again in spite of changed context, become adjacent to Pepsi-Cola, Internet, Citybank, CNN and Stock Exchange.
When Zofia Kulik asked me to write this article, she wanted it to be short. She said too many words are around us. They surround us like sand or like a washpowder without the label. In everyday use practical communication schemes: can I help you, or do you want to talk about it? – are confronted with medial “hype” that is euphoric and catastrophic. With one ear we hear about the existence meant for us which smells with lemon fragrance, and with the other about catastrophes that always happen to someone else. I am writing this text while watching TV interview with Asian Maskhadov. Against the journalist, he is sitting in a hieratic pose, in a high astrakhan hat, with his face deprived of mimic, his body stiff and out of any trace of gesture, as if he would like to manifest his contempt to persuadeness and oratory tricks. Contempt, but perhaps also fear? Brittle authority supported with stiff form.
Works of Zofia Kulik talk about ornamental violence and show meaningless allegories of authority. Unswerving decorative formal with bloody stain of red. Modern authority has successfully operated with baroque idiom, the present is referring to classicism in critical moments. Though, by appearance, it would seem that those two ways of expression are contradictory to each other and mutually exclude, they are governed with perfect geometric structure. It’s obvious. Apart from this there were also the power of art and violence of form, a pure form understood as emancipation, but also a healthy form which had been shown in the thirties by artists from different countries, not only from Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Stalin Russia. We can say that montages and installations of Kulik bring the structure of presented world to the light of day, while in the same time the same world makes practically everything to demonstrate the lack of structure – I mean fluidity, immediacy, elasticity, flux. From this point of view, the post-modern reality seems to be a female reality which effaces male hieratic elements and severe paternality contained in it. System overorganisation escapes recognition, because it is concealed amongst fluent but repeatable pictorial and language cliches and it organizes everyday ceremonies of immediate and pleasant life.
Kulik spreads her installations between historically “organized” past and functionally “deorganized” present day (in spite of exertions of officials and thanks to endeavours of various ideologies). Kulik is one of so few artists I know, who manage to do it, and who can penetrate so deeply into history of forms in order to confront them with the present. She weaves delicate arrases, she assemblies luminous stain-glasses that refer to the “male” side of the world, and in the same time she says “I am a guy”. It is worth to think about in times when we consider female strategies, and when every two or three hours we are watching Yeltsyn stagger during his visit to Usbekhistan, on the very day of the interview with Maskhadov.