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From the catalogue Another Continent,
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography 1994

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Zofia Kulik


My father's family came from the East, from the present Ukraine. My great-grandmother was born Ukrainian, her family name was Bilozor. My great-grandfather's name was Ross, a descendant of 17th century Scottish settlers. There were a lot of teachers in that family. My other great-grandfather's name was Kulik, and he was a Pole. My great-grandfather, his father and his three brothers were blacksmiths. I have been told that their works survive until the present day. My mother's family name is Ludwig. Her family lived near the Carpathian mountains. Her ancestors probably came from Czechoslovakia. She is a dressmaker. She can cut a garment from patterned fabric so that the pattern works perfectly in a skirt or a dress. My father is an army officer. This is why, until I was fourteen, I lived in military quarters. Every day, from my windows on the second floor, I could see the main command staff, the changing of the guard, endless salutes and soldiers marching . . . When and how did patterns enter into my work? The interior of my father's flat has been, until this day, decorated in "Eastern" style — ornamental carpets, rugs, bedspreads, tapestries — all this coexists, ignoring "Western" elegance, which is based on simplicity and subdued design. My mother's influence on my work is obvious, especially as I assisted her in her work, helping to arrange the cabbage into unique patterns. The influence of military "patterns" is evident . . .

Statement by the artist, Fragment from a text on the presence of patterns in her work

- Do you feel there is a great rift between the East and West?

- No, no, no. Yes, yes, yes. You see, I try not to analyse the issue at all; however, I often think about it. I do not need it in my work, because I am searching for global references. I think of it in as much as I try to put into my work Eastern characteristics and traditions, things that are not found in Western art but are characteristic of our culture. I feel satisfaction, sometimes mixed with a little malice, when my works generate interest in the West. It is my little, private, almost guerilla-like struggle against the — eventually — overwhelming civilization of the West. And, after all, is contemporary Western art anything more than contemporary Western art? Is it?

Fragment from an interview with Ryszard Ziarkiewicz, Magazyn Sztuki, 1993



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