Karolina Harazim, Through the eye of a needle

The text has been published in the solo exhibition's catalog, "A Word Each", Bunkier Sztuki, Gallery of Contemporary Art, 2011.

We have a plethora of means of communication available, so why bother to scribble on walls?! Instead, couldn't you write a letter (even an open one), sound off on a website, scream out your rights and wrongs from a high window, swamp the neigbourhood with leaflets, or stick a poster in every available place? What motivates someone to make a trip to the shop, to buy a can of spray paint and, armed with it, to attack a pre-targeted, well-exposed vertical surface? Best of all, freshly rendered... I have always felt righteous outrage at such activities. I am irritated by the obvious lack of respect for others' aesthetic sense. As for what this type of activity is all about is for me an impenetrable mystery, completely unfathomable. For Monika Drożyńska, graffiti – which provoke these emotions and rebellion in me – have become a starting point for yet another artistic project, firmly based on the city's foundations. Since 2007, the artist has tracked oratory manifestations on walls. After her son was born, Drożyńska – torn from the context of her previous existence, through the mundane and conventional activity of taking her son out for walks – found ground for further artistic inspiration. Winter Activities – the artistic fruit of these long-term explorations – have become an antidote to the soporific pace of winter and to the violent changes which have occurred in the artist's life due to the appearance of a Little Person. The pram-pushing expeditions turned out to be an excellent opportunity for rediscovering familiar surroundings and for venturing into the unknown in search of the proverbial needle in a haystack – slogans painted on walls screaming out, 'The higher, the sadder', 'Fuck off! concrete jungle', 'Ourliness', 'Stop obsessing!' or 'I live in a block of flats, I am not alone'. Here we have the result of the artist's explorations, so strikingly different from the football hooligans' mindless needling. The sizeable collection of graffiti which the artist had accumu-lated in the form of photographic documentation since 2007 demanded public exposure. Gradually, it has achieved it by Drożyńska's adding another string to her artistic bow: embroidery. Embroidery is a magnificent technique, with an ancient pedigree. It is an accomplishment which requires long hours of arduous application and patient practice. The proliferation of stitches available and the wealth of possibilities are dazzling. And in today's fast-moving reality, embroidery is an unusual pursuit. What for some may be a waste of time pointlessly following the thread that leads to the past, for others is a superb form of fruitful meditation and unwinding, in more senses than one: getting away from the travails of everyday life. Applying colourful, spatial patterns can become a way of distancing yourself from reality. In her embroideries, Monika Drożyńska draws on the huge meditative and ‘centrifugal’ potential of the technique. In her work Various Uses for a Woman (2009) Monika Drożyńska has created a skirt-as-message, which – in acting as an extension of the artist’s own body and her comfort zone– acts as a perverse marker of femininity. On this ambiguous skirt, in this partly private and partly public area, the artist has stitched her project’s manifesto, which proclaims, ‘Woman as object, woman as image, woman as public facility’. The needle, memorably ‘dancing with the thread’ in the poem by the Polish writer Jan Brzechwa that we all know from our childhood, in the hands of Monika Drożyńska has become a weapon to fight ignorance, male chauvinism and stupidity. We have unravelled the common thread of Drożyńska’s work. In her battle, the militant artist – feminist? – has harnessed the tools of a traditional homemaker: cotton, needle and a tambour! As a result of her fascination, Drożyńska has developed a singular sensitivity to the individual voices of those dispersed through urban space, or perhaps lost in it. In her work, she frequently turns to the activities of others, becomes a catalyst for it or uses it as material for her own creation, as was the case, for instance, in the project of collecting clothes, organised in order to Stitch a Cultural Centre (2009). The artist spent a couple of years working on Block of Flats (2002-2004) – a triptych which consisted of photographs of a block of flats, a series of images of the families living
in the flats and a collection of black-and-white portraits of individuals. These are just a couple of examples of works in which the artist draws on relationships with others, enters their personal space or transcends the secure confines of her own. Openness to communication with other people and a readiness to share the knowledge of her own creative craft are the hallmarks of Drożyńska's art; whether employed as a starting point, a creative method or the result of a creative project. Monika Drożyńska has identified with the found graffiti and made them her own via the medium of embroidery. The original graffiti – their subversive character, paradoxically, itself subverted, which is to say: legitimised, by making them part of the artistic project Winter Activities – have returned to their natural habitat: urban space. Urban Embroidery became a kind of urban calendar on the streets of Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław, Opole and Legnica where, from September 2010 until February 2011, a work a month from the series Winter Activities was displayed on a large screen. In this manner, the artist blurred the boundaries between the legal and the illegal, the individual and the common, the classical and the contemporary. She succeeded in raising the profile of often simple – yet striking – home truths. The graffiti slogans, in the firm stitching of Monika Drożyńska, have found their way to different audiences, moving them and occasioning a pause for reflection. Some have even entered everyday speech. A Word Each is an exhibition which contains many elements significant both in and for Monika Drożyńska's work. This was a dynamic exhibition, an exhibition in process, which only became complete on the last day. Throughout the presentation, it continued to evolve. Such permanent tension is characteristic of the artist. A constant searching, motion, flutter. The exhibition of works from the projects completed to date (Winter Activities, Urban Embroidery) was accompanied by an interactive artistic action with audience participation, In-Between Words, based on conversations, but not about the exhibition or the actual works shown, but, rather, about art in general and the role it plays in our life. The sound-track of the encounters became the material for the work which culminated the show. The stitched register of emotions appearing, In-Between Words, during the artist’s encounters with viewers, spanned the earlier projects and bracketed them firmly with the present, bringing into focus a vital ingredient of Drożyńska’s art: the function of active audience participation, which made the ornamental embroidery come alive and pulsate with revealed meaning. Embroidery – the firm attachment of ornament to cloth using needle and thread – reflects the firm attachment of Monika Drożyńska to her craft.


lip 15, 2014 Kategoria: english Napisał: Monika