Why did you move into decorativeness? I see here used forms, motifs from previous works, but the prior context’s content is missing.
It is precisely about this, to negate the content, subject, text. But I would rather not use the term decoration, since decoration is something that contains no internal order. Ornament rather, as it contains some order, rules. If one creates an ornamental pattern, the geometric-composition rules have to be set first. After the rules are set, the pattern multiplies and copies itself. Decoration, on the contrary, can be made up of individual elements, „attached” to one another and this geometric-ordering, the grid on the surface does not exist anymore, And when it comes to devoiding of meaning, the gesture itself, the decision of the author or authoress to not deal in critical matter – but let me stress this: only in a literal sense – is a conscious adopting, for the moment, of an a-political, a-critical stance. But this seeming a-critical mode does not mean that they become indifferent. I’m not indifferent … in spite of it all (laughs).
Zofia Kulik, Pattern 1 (morris 15-7), 2007, by courtesy of the artist
I though that maybe this lack of context is also a context.
It is. By which I mean here this literalness and unidimensionality of the message. It so happens in contemporary art that context is too aggressively„shoved in”. It is a kind of ‘sociologising’ art, where the context is given, the authors take it as a starting point for their work. As though they were filling out questionnaires: I do this and that, I’m recognised in this way or another, so I do a certain type of critical art, I invite certain people, and not the other, to take part in the action, or in general I perform such an action and not any other, so on and so forth – because that is who I am. Now I, with those works, I am saying: no, I am neither this, nor that, nor the other. I have done critical works, but now I don’t do them. In a way I’m betraying myself.
But you do leave a lot of space for the audience.
There are elements being used here that have been used previously in works that were – let’s say – a bit more literal or of a particular, often critical title. Here I am using them in a way that seems first more relaxing too me, and second – and you need to put it in inverted commas – it is slightly ‘mannerist’. Yes, there is mannerism here. I am fully conscious of it. However, for an outsider, for a viewer this should be a signal for their own interpretation, and perhaps again in a mannerist spirit – for overinterpretation. I am taking into account the possibility that someone will complete the interpretation of that lack of direct message on my part.
Just by their knowledge of earlier works…
Yes, it could be so. But the rejection of the content, titles, literalness of my previous works and the isolated out of different “patterned” fragments, which previously filled the assigned fields in the composition, poses a question: can these „fragments” in and by themselves talk?
Zofia Kulik, Pattern 3 (batik-home 20-1), 2007, by courtesy of the artist
Some time ago I spoke to Katarzyna Józefowicz, who was at the time creating works out of newspapers: she would cut them into thin, wool-like strips and then she would knit those into some kind of fabric. She said that to her it was the meditative aspect that was most important, where she would free herself of all the disturbing information in the material through her work. But, and that is important too, she would also subject it to her rules. In this work then there is that discipline you talked about, this keeping with the rules… Ornament rather than decoration.
The rule orders any particular pattern. And another thing is present here as well, which was there also in my previous work: a human being used as a motif on par with draperies, still life, an animal or plants. Subordinate to the rule. Enslavement occurs through the subjugation to the rule of composition, which creates the ornament. Human being is inscribed into it.
But going back to what you have mentioned – weaving out of newspapers. Because my works are done in Photoshop, there is also an element of „being in doing”. And this „being in doing” is very much like all the women’s fancy-work. At a point I wanted to call Patterns Laces, because they are done like lacework: 5 hooks, 10 hooks, take some here, add some there and so on… A segment is created and the segment is duplicated. Much in the way women made patchworks… A therapeutic and contemplative element is very important as you do those. So despite using different materials, this is perhaps something we have in common.
And what about the aesthetic pleasure?
That too. Looking at the sea for example, at the waved surface, the waves seem all the same, and yet they shimmer and change. Perhaps this is also a contemplation „point” for the recipient, not just the contemplation of the author on the job.
Zofia Kulik, Pattern 4 (chinese 08-5), 2007, by courtesy of the artist
Zofia Kulik, Pattern 6 (islamic 10-3), detail, 2007, by courtesy of the artist
When looked at from a distance these works seem quite abstract. But when you get closer…
…you get to read all the individual elements. And their configurations; it is the configuration of particular elements which create what I call a segment.
Meanings can be read off of those combinations…
Clearly so. But not everywhere in a literal way. For example in this work it might be more straightforward, because there is a half of pig’s head. Though it looks a bit like flower petals on the black background. And the flower used on the next one is fake. But on the photograph it seems more natural and vivid than a ‘live’ one. The perceptual impression is important. It is not about what the mind thinks, but what you can see. These associations between elements are meant to be taken in on the principles of pure perception, as one would with nature. Does anyone look for meanings in nature? In a sunset?
Such views can inspire us to different kinds of thinking.
The conversation took place on the opening night of Patterns [Desenie] at the Le Guern Gallery (16.12.07. – 20.01.08., curated by Bożena Czubak) and has been previously unpublished.
English translation: Aleksandra Walentynowicz