Nevine Mahmoud, Cleave and Spread, 2017, calcite, alabaster, steel, 22.86 x 20.32 x 20.32 cm, photos courtesy of the artist and M + B Gallery, Los Angeles
It is impossible to forget this image. It was on a rainy Monday last October. Thousands of women, many wearing black, took the streets of the major Polish cities shaking dark umbrellas in the gesture of protest against a cruel law criminalising abortion, and thus protecting their fundamental right to control their own bodies.
The sculptures of Liz Craft deconstruct the logic with sense of humour and replace it with her own visual narrative while making a reference to California subcultures and their mythical gurus – hippies, surfers, mystics and strongwomen. Her surreal sculptures confront and question the everyday life by means of imagination and blend female iconography with elements of grotesque, entropy and formal experiments. This approach is directly expressed in her comic book speech balloons and ceramic tables decorated with attributes of sexuality.
In a comparable way, the crude eroticism behind the stone sculptures by Nevine Mahmoud – the blossoming lily, the gnawed peach and lips – all evoke the representations and materials used by the artist like Eva Hesse or Alina Szapocznikow. Funny and straight-forward, but at the same time poetic and sensual – her female rock-and-roll forms from alabaster, marble and calcite challenge the male dominated tradition of sculpting in stone in a way that is completely free from complexes and restrictions.
Scenes of contemporary life, anxious characters and emotional situations featured in the films, sculptures and installations of Mélanie Matrangi create theatrical spaces activated by the visitors and communicate emotional value of their production. Her latest film “YOU” (2016) is a narrative suffused with eroticism, in which the artist, inspired by the French New Wave and filmmakers like Eric Rohmer and Jean Eustache, defines love as a communication system, suggesting possible ways of re-investing in authenticity by concentrating on the mechanisms of our economy, emotions and object relations. Similarly, in her choreographic work, Dragana Bulut is interested in relationships of power, and in creating and analysing tensions within performance space in relation to bodies, expression and timing. Her performance “30 Ways to” was an “item” presented in the gallery during the opening night and as a part of a larger performance “Pass It On”, staged the following day at KEM, a space located in Praga district in Warsaw devoted to performance, run by Alex Baczyński-Jenkins. The latter is conceived as an auction dealing with the questions of the authorship, the relation between material and immaterial and the value of an artistic object. The approach of Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili to photography puts in perspective its superficial and two-dimensional character with the three-dimensional potential of sculpture. This time the artist invented a room of one’s own, delimited by delicate, cotton curtains with abstract pattern prints. Inside this room there are three photographs – selfies taken with an analog – depicting parts of the artists’ face and body. They are disposed in a way that allows for covering and uncovering and thus reveal the diaristic aspect of the piece.
Lastly, elaborated sculpture compositions by Barbara Leoniak – Moebius strips or human heads remind of the ritual of mummification. In the course of the creative process, her sculptures, like skeletons of artistic expression, come to life. For “Seven Sisters” exhibition the artist prepared a series of three, two-headed, idealised female busts made in wood and paper mâché. They undoubtedly evoke the feminist surrealism, whose history and visual legacy are crucial to this exhibition.
Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Dragana Bulut, Liz Craft, Barbara Leoniak, Nevine Mahmoud, Mélanie Matranga
Curated by Martha Kirszenbaum
The exhibition continues until July 27
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