Alicja Kwade made sculptures and object that conveys
Alicja Kwade made sculptures and object that conveys vernacular symbols of the female body. As in a Minimalist painting, the artist had drawn the figures on paper from photographs of real women, but, unlike a painting, they were painted. With these imperfections she attempted to evoke a sensuous and unspecific feminine body, but her work did not suffer from the common or stylistic misconceptions that come with the term feminine body art. The figures are sexually suggestive, but they are not meant to be interpreted as sexual. Their ambiguous sexual identities are a result of the artists attempts to find the trace of a body that is constantly mutating, that is always as fragmentary and individuated as the gestures that mark its passage through time and space.Sonia Balaghi has created a series of sculptures, illuminated from behind, depicting the various ways in which a woman is represented, which have been presented in a very intimate way. The sculptures are made of paper and paper-wrapped paper, which has been stained with a purple dye, and then rolled and folded, forming a sheet of paper, which is encased in a box. Each sculpture is inscribed with a letter of the alphabet, and the letter is cut out of each sculpture and placed on a nearby wall. The letters are silent, as if they had been forgotten, and are the images of a missing body.The installation called The Strange Life of Aesops, 2009, was less successful. It included a wooden sculpture that looked like a raw thigh, a feminine leg that looked like a boot, and a bronze penis that looked like an erotic penis. The objects in the installation were scattered on the floor, and it was difficult to discern the relationship between the pieces, which seemed to function separately. But this was perhaps because the sculptures were so small, and there was no room to display them.
Alicja Kwade made sculptures and object that conveys vernacular or quotidian sensations, without adding much. She did not ask for much: she did not need a rich imagination to come up with a work that could stand up to the surrounding world. She did not ask for anything in particular, or for anything tangible to be translated into a medium—to have a work of art to be, in the words of Hélio Oiticica, an object that is capable of being an object that can be used. And she did not ask for anything that was less than the possibility of seeing a particular object as something other than an object, as an image. It is not surprising that one cannot really imagine such a work as a sculptural work: one cannot imagine a piece of furniture, a kind of house, that cannot be represented. One cannot imagine the artist to have gone through any further deliberation as to what the work is to be, what it is to be, or what it can be, or how it can be made. But in this case, her abstract sculptures were ready-made, ready to be used.Kwades works have always been considered as performances, and they are not without an element of risk. They are not without an element of play, of a playful attempt to produce an illusion of real presence that is never realized. By asking for nothing, she invites us to try on different attitudes, to be in dialogue with the objects that we have seen: objects that we immediately recognize as materials, and that we could not have imagined as sculptures. Yet in these pieces, there is no more the artist does not ask for. The object was always already there, in a state of readiness to be touched, as a function of the viewer, as a formal element in the work. The artists decision to invite the viewer to touch these objects is the same as that of asking for something.
vernacular symbols of the obscure: buttons that have been torn off and stuck together with the others; small holes, cut out of paper, in which heart-shaped holes have been covered with paper; buttons that have been stuck on the wall and have remained there for years. In contrast to the picturesque symbolism of the rest of the show, these are not signs of political resistance but of the passing of time, of a present in which the past is visible as something we experience with our eyes, as a form of time and a presence that cannot be completely denied.Translated from German by Gerrit Jackson.
Alicja Kwade made sculptures and object that conveys vernacular life and culture, while a large black-and-white video projection of a woman singing, Her name is love, 2001, was projected on the walls of the gallery. By virtue of the monumental scale of the video projection, the sound of the women singing could be heard at a distance and yet made familiar by the sound of people who happened to walk in front of the installation. While the video had been projected on the wall of the gallery, the voices were amplified in the space, as if from above. In the middle of the gallery, the video was projected on a wall that faced the camera. The video showed a woman singing and making gestures, as if she were an angelic diva in a black dress. The voice-over echoed the song of the woman on the video, but with the added element that of a helicopter-transported voice. In this way, the voice-over (the live one) combined with the sound of the women singing, as in a trance. In the room below, the video showed a different view of a woman, but it was rendered with the same effectiveness as the video image. The video and the video images had become inseparable; they were separated from one another and were projected in the same way as the figures in the video. This interdependence between the live image and the live-projected one was extended to the installations that surrounded the video, as well. In one work, for example, a group of figures wearing sunglasses, gloves, and other nonfunctional prosthetic devices appeared in a pair of sunglasses—one of them pulled down and the other open—and two white tights hung on the wall. The figures were animated by a continuous sound track, which was simultaneously recorded and projected in the video. In the projection of the video, the tights were replaced by a row of white ones.
Alicja Kwade made sculptures and object that conveys vernacular, urban lives—such as a prison barbershop, a coffee shop, a barbecue, and a bus stop. The works in her exhibition I do not play with sound and I am not a musician, do not carry instruments, were simply there, indicating their presence and suggesting a possible place of transit between other sites. Their presence is not merely informational, however, but also poetic.The curatorial choice to include videos as a group rather than a singular piece, and to present them as grouped, seemed to be a clear statement of intent. With so many of the pieces presented in the gallerys two large rooms dedicated to photography, and so few artists, the viewer seemed to be a captive audience to this show. However, it is precisely by way of this exhibition that the individual works were placed. With the exception of the video works, the artists who were best represented, according to the catalogue, were those who were closest to the audiovisual context—those who engaged themselves directly with the medium and produced original works, and who, though not explicitly addressing the works themselves, explored the ways in which sound, photography, and language could be used to engage the body in a lived context. But the curator did not seem to be aware of this. The works that function most successfully as objects are those whose aesthetics have been most elaborately integrated. And here again, the curators decision to place the most prominent works, both artistic and personal, in the largest and most room-filling spaces was a clear attempt to confine the individual pieces in the most intimate of spaces. The second room contained two video works and one photograph, each in a black frame; they were placed between two wall-mounted boxes, each containing a sound, made by a speaker hidden within a wall.