Marek K. Wasilewski
Kasia Kujawska works in the fields of video, installation, painting and drawing. Mostly her work concerns space and media she employs are subordinated to this end. “My works are an attempt to create an illusion of depth, or an attempt to encompass infinity. Games between outside and inside… lt’s an attempt to grasp all the universe and concentrate it, turn it inside out… It is a form of happiness – this freedom, which gives me possibilities for creation involving decisions about the language with which l want to tell my dreams. That’s my way of preserving moments, phenomena, which are neither an imitation of physical things or objects nor an outpouring of feelings. Rather it is an interpretation of reality, the aim of which is to identify and clarify the quality of emotions and the value of impressions1“. This is what she wrote in her masters’ thesis.
Kasia Kujawska writes about “transformation” and the “poeticisation” of space, and she has also written that she treats a space as an independent mental territory. “In my works limitations are somehow marked as a line which l treat as infinite and finite. The line symbolic of the horizon – which is also a line – of apparent contact between the sky and the earth, but this is also the mental grasp of knowledge and mental possibilities”. The author confesses in that way her mistrust in the institutions of knowledge, which are the base of our present reality. She affirms that the boarder of her thoughts and possibilities is visible, but at the same time as apparent as the line of the horizon. This world is clearly divided into inner and outer spaces. This is the area replete with limitations, barriers and dividing lines. In this world a kind of labyrinth is created and this labyrinth is full of different kinds of paths between spaces; where illusion is possible of unreal corridors, gates doors, communication holes and the transmission and the multiplication of images. As an artist working in the milieu of contemporary art Kasia Kujawska is obligated at some point to trust technology and knowledge which does not come from her personal experience, and at that moment, the above mentioned limitation is surpassed, but this attitude in art comes to its fruition by an ironical and cynical use of the media, in harmony with the nature of the media but used against it.
More than anything this appears in the video work “Kitchen Triptych” and “This Equipment is Perfect”. In both films the main idea is the helplessness of reality, its rules and technological standards. “Kitchen Triptych” is chaotic and full of sense of humour towards the impossibility of an artist adapting to the roles of waitress and housewife. This is a pastiche of reportage and television cookery programs. And at the same time „Kitchen Triptych” and the other film mentioned are kinds of psychodramas where Kujawska shows her impatience with technology, social roles and the expectation of the modern world. In the second film the author says to the video camera the words: “this equipment is perfect”. This passage is then re-recorded and that re-recorded scene is recorded once more ad infinitum; as a consequence of which it becomes increasingly degraded. An analytic analysis of media changes into a parody, an ironic manifestation of mistrust, not only of media as media, but also of a culture which criticises media.
There is similar idea at work in the installation “Apparent End” and “Triumphal Arch” shown in 1997 at the Jesuit Gallery in Poznań, part of which was a series of white columns referring to relations with the Baroque details of the interior of the gallery. Kujawska’s columns are not real columns, like the columns in the gallery corridors. Columns are usual construction elements of a building or a monument. The Baroque exhaustion, twilight, of repetition of the same elements; as a style it dipped into illusion and decorative game. Marble is no longer marble. A column no longer bears weight, it is merely a part of the decoration. Kujawska’s columns do not hold anything up either; they are symbolic figures in a gallery, which was once a church. The difference between them is that the baroque columns support themselves with the authority of history and at the same time they support the authority of the builders and the users of that time. Kujawska’s columns maintain an illusion their finial is a mediatised image of its own base on a monitor screen. So those columns express a kind of tautology or untruth. The columns’ base cannot be the columns head. In Kasia Kujawska’s interpretation a column head, which is the most important element of the style disappears, vanishing somewhere between the base and its media reflection. If the column symbolises culture, then columns crowned with monitors negate their solid base.
“Triumphal Arch” is a work, which contains two columns connected together with a beam of light. Two slide projectors face each other, each “attacking” the other with wave – like rays, which seemed to collide with each other in the middle. This reminds one of Jan Berdyszak’s work of 1983, in which were two reflectors standing opposite each other. Berdyszak wrote in his commentary to his work that “the light of illumination allows one to see more and in an impossible way”2. In any case Kasia Kujawska’s work is not a source of illumination but of scattered light which loses itself into itself. Taking this idea which has been used in art before as an element creating the form of sculpture, Kujawska does not treat it as a source of brightness, pulling the world from darkness; quite the reverse: the light becomes the beginning of diffusion. Light in this work, instead of building the space for a triumphal arch, destroys it. What is a gate, which has no solid frame, where can it take us? Using stereotypes of culture space classical civilisation Kasia Kujawska anarchically disrupts them. Her works bring chaos into this area, a negation of constructive rules and logic. The “Triumphal Arch” brings us to the next corridor, which exists only as a reflection on the wall. There is only a monitor and a video camera, which transmits an interior. “Crossing the wall, an illusion of a continuity, a space existing behind a wall, where de facto there is nothing…” So one more apparent end…
(1) All quotations of Kasia Kujawska come from her MA thesis “A Few Words About Impressions – For Colours – Games Between Outside and Inside” ASP Poznań 1997
(2) Jan Berdyszak, Elżbieta Olinkiewicz, Teatr, Wrocław 1996, str. 160