Passive family ties
Art Agenda Nova
Batorego 2, Krakow
Passive. Family ties are a continuation of the earlier problem of human identity, the beginning of which were images from the Niezawodni cycle. This time, we wanted to develop the issue of functioning in the culture of women from our family.
In this project we were hoping to create disharmony caused by a clearly different scale of images. What is shown in close-up on the portrait is painted in a big picture, and the general plan is in a small format. What's more, the accurately rendered figures from small canvases were juxtaposed with monumental portraits that remained in the unfinished version.
We tried to engage our own subjectivity as little as possible so as not to give the impression of objectivising portrayed women. Not everything can be presented. We were not able to control the emotions that appeared when the characters came out of the picture. Therefore, at some point, facing the impossibility of embracing all the sadness that appeared in portraits, we abandoned the picture. Thus, he dominated us. Women from paintings became co-authors of works.
Multiplied, distracted - this is the cycle, and that is how culturally understood femininity. Identity constructed, educated and nurtured by every individual in society. The teaching passed on to the daughter by her mother becomes a cruel ritual of training within a certain framework: passivity, inferiority, matter, absence, heart, illogicality, emotions, minority etc.
Passivity is doubly enforced: on the one hand, it is subordination to traditional, external rituals, and on the other - through passive submission to the command to be submissive, pending, subordinate, excluded, etc.
The video recorded with real family members (mom, grandma) was also used as material, so the whole project is conceptual and multidimensional. It is an attempt to rebuild a positive relationship that is on the axis: kultura / identość / artysta-artystka / matka / kobiecość.
In view of this perspective, the whole installation begins to read differently (pictures + film), because what appears to be undisputed in the paintings, the film subtly undermines the film. Seemingly important and official declarations are uttered very often, but they also quickly become a parody of themselves. Redrawn, pompous, sometimes awkwardly mumble, circulate like the specter of the necessary adaptation to social norms.
FOUR TIMES PASSIVENESS
Seven paintings, three huge ones (195x195 cm - close-ups of heroines' faces), three small (40x40 cm, whole-body performances) and one medium and a video make up the latest project "Passive. Family ties ", which Wojtek Kubiak and Lidia Krawczyk showed at the exhibition opened on March 17 in the Galeria Nova in Krakow. What or who in this painting-film project is passive? Artists, posing women, family ties and maybe the performances themselves? It seems like a little bit ...
Artists, when they notice that it is close to crossing the border of intimacy - which always accompanies approximations - are withdrawing. It's as if the director made a blurred close-up. In the film a great plan generally plays a key role, showing a detail that leads to the disclosure of some puzzle or signals something significant. In the presented pictures, we are dealing with a kind of close-up in close-up. Details are revealed: a half-lipped grimace, intensely blue eyes, a cross on the neck. Like little things, but how important. A gap between the lips - dark, like an infinite reservoir - never uttered words, strangled complaints, hidden pleas. Eyes - shiny and vivid, but to show them it was necessary to move away, even for a moment, wrinkles, which grew over years, effectively dimming their glow. Krzyżyk - symbol of the first communion (or other important religious event), but at the same time a sign of an order that has been preserved for centuries, in which the woman has the role of a merciful guardian and a silent, patient companion.
Posing women - "Wanda" stands against the background of windows, looks tense, as if she did not answer her outside. Dressed in a white blouse, stiff probably from starch and a carefully pressed skirt. Despite the apparent discomfort, he succumbs to both pose and unpleasant rigid matter - because it is so. "Karolina" sits with her head bowed on the edge of the bed, mourning. He sits as if frozen in a numbness, suspended between lying down and getting up from bed. "Irena, Małgorzata and Lidia", though they are crammed together on two stools, do not push, but rather try to get closer, closer together. Each of them is different, expresses a different attitude. Irena sat at the same time resigned and calm. Margaret sat down in the middle, her face expressing dissatisfaction or impatience, but nevertheless she sits humbly on the stool. Lidia is in the back, on the one hand she hides behind the back of older women, on the other her hard face, indicates that she is probably the first to get up and ask: Where is the third stool for me, why do we have to be so meek? They look similar in the next picture. Irena is standing over them with a cross, would she try to protect women from her family in this way, or perhaps rather mark them? Małgorzata's face seems to express uncertainty in relation to the role and value of religion, again we see this expression of impatience, while Lidia - a representative of the next generation - is not so impatient as she looks aggressively, defiantly. However, at the close-up, we see a cross on Małgorzata's neck, if Irena could pass her her faith, or if it was just a blank sign, a family memento, after all, a hard face disappeared from Lydia's face.
Family ties - the most can be read from the film about them. The conversation does not take place between women, but it resembles three parallel streams, so from this exchange of opinions, nothing will be born. Although they form a family, they do not understand each other and belong to different generations. Passively submit to the need to talk, because you have to talk to each other - as in the scene of a family dinner from the movie "American Beauty". Because if you do not talk, you can not communicate. However, it turns out that even when one speaks, nothing changes. Communication is active and results in dialogue or discussion. In the film, we see three monologues, and the monologue is not an active exchange of sentences, it is something passive, because it generates nothing, except for deepening misunderstanding and discouragement. There is such a frame in the film, very characteristic: Irena is thoughtful, or maybe sad, Małgorzata is looking forward, and Lidka is clearly absent, although she is in the foreground, as if she were already completely outside of this circle of family ties.
Images, especially portraits, are also passive. They did not get out of the non-being. They express only fragments. But we are arranging today's reality from fragments. There is no total cognition, no universal image, only fragments that patiently await to find and submit to completion.
Finally, it is worth noting the difference between the "Wanda" and "Wanda's Portrait" included in the title. "Wanda" is not a portrait, but Wanda's representation is Wanda's outward appearance, but not her portrait, she speaks against and not Wanda.
The subject of works is the broadly understood human identity. By giving up their own subjectivity, the authors emphasize the personality of their models - family members. They take up the problem of culturally understood femininity and its shaping. They draw attention to the cruelty and ruthlessness of the mechanisms of education - mother's discipline of the daughter, the methods by which this procedure is carried out and its consequences. "Passivity is doubly enforced: on the one hand, it is subordination to traditional, external rituals, and on the other - through passive submission to the command to be submissive, pending, inferior, excluded, etc."
(Lidia Krawczyk, Wojtek Kubiak)
The content is strongly emphasized thanks to formal experiments. The exhibition included eight images and one DVD movie. Artists used them in two sizes. These large-format (195x195 cm) portraits are very close, in the unfinished version. Smaller (40x40 cm) show the full silhouettes of models in a slight distance, the overall plan. "I am hurt by large paintings, where the representation fails, where there are no more paints, where the sharp pencil line only emphasizes wrinkles, sagging skin, perceptiveness of the eyes and reflexive lips tightening, reflexive because they have been practiced for so many years. Withdrawing from painting tells what would have been said and absorbed by the convention if it were said otherwise, classically, with paints. Silence is also to avoid pathos, so as not to pay homage to Grandma Polka, Polish Mother and daughter Polka - it would be monstrous "
(M. Ujma, exhibition catalog)