After lazy holiday months, September has finally arrived. This is a month of hard work and nostalgic memories of days and events which passed. September begins with a series of exhibitions in galleries and museums, of art fairs and auctions. This fabulous beginning of season was initiated by Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm. They have planned a series of exhibitions and events under a common name – Art Of Memory. An exhibition which starts this project is a presentation of art by Alina Szapocznikow. Her works are extremely sensual, feminine and, on the other hand, full of suffering and sense of fading.
The exhibition is a retrospective of her creative activity. It presents Szapocznikow’s early sculptures made following her first worldwide success, when one of her works was purchased by the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris. One of the sculptures is The Troubled Age from 1956. The exhibition also includes some later works – the most dramatic ones from the series Tumeurs. Apart from sculptures and installations the exhibitions also includes drawings which were the focus of her exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. The whole exhibition is enriched by two movies from the artist’s atelier. All the works are presented in a highly minimalistic way enabling the viewer to look at every single work individually and gives each work an opportunity for individual existence. You don’t need nothing more. Too much isn’t good at all. Every single work has a strong presence and includes plenty of intimate memories and stories to be told. For a moment, I would like to focus on two of these works. First one is Bouquet II from 1966. This bouquet, which is formed from lips placed on thin “stems” like flowers, was put on a head of a female figure and then wrapped in foil and poured over with polyester. What we get here is an emphasized problem of absorbing, forgetting and, with time passing, overlapping images. But why? Well, hardly anyone remembers that inside this assemblage there’s an earlier work hidden – Miss from 1962. Forgetting is something inevitable because memory is something fragile and susceptible to manipulation. We can try to motivate or refresh it by finding remains of the past, souvenirs of past events or people we met. Approximately in the year 1967, Alina Szpocznikow created a series of small objects entitled Souvenirs. In polyester, transparent substance she placed photographs of her acquaintances and friends. Two of those can be seen on show in Stockholm. This series had its continuation in 1971, when the artist tried to keep her family photographs. Memories and marks were kept forever.
By looking at her works it is impossible to resist a feeling that her whole artistic activity is a battle against death, brutally shortened life and time of creation. But most of all, it is a desire to leave a mark. This is both strong and deep, as well as an expression of desperate loyalty to evidence to prove her existence – memory captured in a material form.
Centre of contemporary art Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm will present three individual exhibitions of works by Gerard Byrne, Cecilia Edefalk and Alina Szapocznikow (currently on show). All three artists perceive differently the way individual and common memory create our existence. The passage of time is a common denominator of works by Byrne, Edefalk and Szapocznikow.
Exhibition open: 04 Sep — 24 Nov 2013
Torsgatan 19, Stockholm
words: Dobromila Blaszczyk
translation: Katarzyna Ujma
edited by: Contemporary Lynx