My current investigations in art oscillate around my ideas of material, spatial and temporal contingency, and the transformative aspect of making that creates ephemera. I produce art objects that exist in a transitional state: dispersed forms and shapes, which retain traces of their original properties and history, altered to a condition of indeterminacy.
I draw inspiration from my native Poland. Poland’s very turbulent history of wars, rebellions, partitions of state, and even the absence from the map of Europe for 123 years, is a strong part of Polish consciousness. During my childhood, my family as well as the whole nation experienced a sense of uncertainty and instability due to the political and social change. I draw upon this consciousness as well as motifs derived from traditional Polish folklore. I relate to the collective experience of Polish history and my awareness of contradiction within the history through my art. As an Eastern European condition, it is something that is an inherent part of my consciousness.
In my most recent works I construct immersive and spatially ambiguous environments in which the viewer experiences a sense of transience, uncertainty and chance. All my projects are rooted in the desire to communicate my personal feelings of detachment and displaced identity through the indeterminate and dislocated spatial and symbolic dimensions of my work. I refer to craft practice through the process and material treatment, as well as through the motifs derived from Polish traditional craft, e.g. “Korale”, coral bead necklaces, or “Wycinanka,” folk cutouts. I comment on their cultural and personal significance often subverting their meaning or creating the new through appropriation, and then transformation of their physical properties, in order to convey the idea of displacement and loss of the familiar and the native.
I experiment with the variety of nontraditional materials, such as plastic papers, Tyvek, plastic resins, and test their limits striving for new and unexpected formal solutions. Aside of strictly hand made oriented practice I also integrate innovative technologies, for instance: digital fabrication that involves use of 3-d printing and rapid prototyping methods, and CNC laser cutting machines. Introduction of digital and mechanical technologies is decisive in the process of constructing meaning in my art.
I came to understand that the essence of my memory is inextricably entwined with the places and time of growing up in Poland. I understand life based on loss and the threshold of displacement that are a result of leaving my native country and home behind: their inhabitants, their experience and their pain. Interpreting this liminal state through the transformation of materials, objects, familiar images and elements that often come from my personal memory and Polish folklore lies at the core of my studio practice.
I strive to give tangible forms to the anxiety of lived experience by incorporating imagery that signals the absent time and dislocation. In drawings and three-dimensional works I use my own vocabulary of materials and motifs. Among them are coral bead necklaces called “korale”, popular in folk culture in Poland, “wycinanki”, Polish folk cut outs, clock or window weights, and fragmented domestic objects. In my installations, I transform and reconfigure the meaning of these objects. These processes include surface treatments such as burning, painting, wrapping, painting, casting, dipping, melting, and incorporating new materials. Spatial relations either in drawings or in installations are meant to correspond with a psychic space through distortion of perspective, alteration of a sense of weight and physical properties of materials, deformations of scale, severance, twist, repetition and obscurity of familiar shapes and objects. It is this distortion which makes my works dreamlike – both dysfunctional and failed. The images and objects are evocative of body and disruptive haunting psychological past.
According to Freud, death defies representation and is suggested through discontinued and fragmentary images that amount to destruction of representation. While it may be impossible to “picture” death, the aura of melancholia and mourning for the lost (destroyed) object are primary concerns within my artworks.
The sense that something is missing, broken, changed and transformed mirrors the complexity of memory. In her book “Contemporary Art and Memory”, Joan Gibbons writes that in the end of the seventeenth century memory became closely related to the imagination. Two things emerge from this shift in thinking about memory that are significant for the understanding of memory today. The first that the veracity of memory began to be questioned, … making it difficult to distinguish memory images from those produced by imagination. The second is that memory began to be actively co-opted as an agent for the imagination.