Guest curator Anna Tomczak *
The exhibition sugar in the ashes. Official Capacity is an attempt to redefine the concept of sculpture in light of questions relating to the physical and mental process of its creation and its relation to space. The new series of sculptures and sculptural collages created by Marlena Kudlicka (born 1973 in Poland lives in Berlin) for La BF15 takes the viewer back to the avant-garde tradition of constructivism and the subsequent practice of the Polish avant-garde. Nevertheless, in her way of understanding the particularity of sculpture and its function in space, the artist draws more deeply from the history and tradition of this medium.
In past centuries, the intuitive human need for harmony guided the artists to inscribe their sculptures in a framework of physical architectural. But some counterexamples lead us to interpret sculpture as a gesture of emancipation.
This is particularly true of the figures sculpted by Michelangelo for the marble tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici (also known as Dusk and Dawn), whose size seems disproportionate to the figures’ pedestal, or of the monumental work by Auguste Rodin, The Gate of Hell, which takes the form of an eponymous architectural element.
These historical detours introduce us to the work of Marlena Kudlicka as if to the shaping of a conscious artistic strategy, involving the appropriation of the space in which a given sculpture functions.
Marlena Kudlicka’s work is based on the space she describes as the “container of counterpoints”. She sees it as an objective frame, such as a grid or a technical drawing. Enriched nonetheless by a formal artistic gesture, her perception takes on a subjective nature. The space around Kudlicka’s sculpture thus becomes a place of mental processes - projection, communication, reception - and the so-called counterpoints that form space become the bases of the mechanisms of understanding and of action of the human being in space.
The universal language of mathematics used by the artist captures space in a perceptible form, showing the dynamics that occur between the work and the viewer. This process named by Robert Morris “the present tense of space” emphasizes the immediacy of its experience and the consciousness of its reception. sugar in the ashes. Official Capacity is understood as a strategy of decomposition of space to highlight fragile points, reinforcing its “here and now”. Due to its shape, sculpture indicates the dynamics of interpersonal communication expressed through language.
Through this ensemble - steel sculpture, small sculptural collages and glass wall piece - Kudlicka develops the concept of sculpture. Understood as the formalization of an emerging idea, it is the product of the collaboration of artist, craftsman, exhibition curator, but also of the institutional context that accompanies the formation of a final project.
Forms, figures, and grammar of sculpture thus result from a collision of different ideas within a communication process. The choice of both materials and titles captures the dynamics of this emergence. The properties of iron and glass, characterized by purity and fragility, are close to an abstract idea. Just as two speakers in a conversation can influence the form of its conclusions, the materials used by Kudlicka are not without affect on the structure of the sculpture. The crystallized sugar in the ashes, the movement with one quality and the collision with one of a different nature, create a new situation. The artist calls this “the genetics of the emergence of form”.
sugar in the ashes. Official Capacity reworks form as a technical protocol, where numbers and other mathematical symbols explain the parameters of a given idea. Like an identification plate, the sculpture explains the origin and the meaning of the artistic gestures and the decisions contained in the closed space of the exhibition space. The glass wall object - the index of an autonomous sculpture - completes its technical and etymological description. Precise language and mathematical symbols illustrate the protocolary nature of the artist’s approach.
The three sculptural collages are, on the other hand, rather like notes, written during the work process on the autonomous sculpture. Within them, the viewer finds the questions that emerged in the decision-making process, the ideas for which the possibility of execution was not found. These ideas are the counterpoint to the final decision, without which no definitive conclusion could exist / be fully realized.
Anna Tomczak, April 2017
The exhibition has received financial support from the Consulate of Poland, Lyon, the Polish Institute, Paris and Lafayette Anticipations - Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris
* Born in 1984, in Poland, Anna Tomczak lives and works in Lyon.
She holds a Master’s Degree in Cultural Studies from Warsaw University and her research essay deals with the eclecticism of Derek Jarman’s work, which combines cinema, painting, music and performance.
Between 2004 and 2012, she is Exhibition Curator in the National Gallery of Arts in Zacheta where she realized monographic and collective exhibitions of Polish and international artists. In 2013, she joined Session 23 of the Ecole du Magasin (Grenoble) and in 2014, with Giulia Bortoluzzi, she created the collective recto / verso.
Her research is part of the field of anthropology of the image. In particular, she is interested in the influences of new technologies in artistic and curatorial practices. She regularly publishes articles on culture and contemporary art.