Andrzej Kostołowski: The Live Pink (1983)

(The text was published in the exhibition catalogue: Maria Pinińska-Bereś, Krzysztofory Gallery, Kraków 1983)


The seventies and the beginning of the eighties have brought about important transformations in art. Modernity has closed its cycle and become a historic style. Artists, however, have begun either 1) presenting ideological or moral alternatives in place of visual fascinations, or 2) proving that the expressive character of interpretatively filled images is seen only in the sense of freedom in making use of the images repertoires that interests them (of regions: …of modern art as well). If we define the former as, “artists of alternatives” and the latter as “artists of repertoires”, we may notice how strongly they make use of each other. It is possible to speak about a dialogue between those who while co-developing alternative ideas in a natural way, aim at the mentioned freedom for imaginary practicality (Scheemann, Anderson) and those who in the passion of expressing themselves through repertoire images, are not able to present them without filters of disinterested sensitivity (Kiefer, Borowsky). In the context Maria Pinińska-Bereś in her original art to a certain extent represents the linkage of this mentioned threads. Developing her activity as a sculptor she underwent an evolution beginning with works belonging clearly to the genre. through non-medial ideological emblems and ending with the stream of activity within the field of installations-performances of the last years: that is beginning with alternative “feministic” proposition and coming to “a stop” to private mythology asking for constructing direct contacts with audience.

Already from the beginning of the sixties the artist stressed her will to be situated outside the cultural schemes. As “an artist of an idea” she began to present it more or less directly in her works where the problem of her own sex received a visual presentation filled equally with elegance and erotism as well as cultural criticism. For instance: elements of objectification and consumption of one sex by the other were an ideological foundation, for creation spatial objects where fragments of a body of a coquettish lady (with a banner with an inscription I’ am sexy) served on a festive table are accompanied by a drawing of a strong, hands of a “consumer” made on the table cloth, or simply by a knife and fork. These problem Pinińska is concerned with have been presented quite clearly especially because in that time she already began to quit the sculptural “limitation of professional norms” and she was able to use various repertoires. When you look through works that represent the feminist art of the last years in many countries you are struck by the fact that Polish artist is clearly a forerunner of this stream of feminist criticism, who achieved artistic results not less important than these introduced by feminist enclaves of alternatives.

Among the repertoire patterns there is in Pinińska’s work a constant motif of a certain kind of assemblage philosophy approached as an idea of juxtaposing problems of several interpretative spheres simultaneously. It is an important clash of what is real (ready-made objects, real context, real activities) and what is fictional (pictorial and descriptive elements, imitations and reconstructions). The clash itself introduces an important dramatic (or ironic) element. In her work it is interesting also that in her games real objects are very frequently, not deprived of their reality-they function accordingly with their destination in the world of her creation.

While pictorial and fictional elements have the double function: a stream of coverlet coming out of The Well of the Pink (1977) is a soft, fleshy, pink tape you can be laid on and be covered with and at the same time it is a picture of metaphorical lava of the pink colour taken in big quantities “as water” out of the well. The particularly beloved by the artist objects made of fabrics (aprons sheets, pillows, coverlets, blankets, cloths) are associated with various types of home and family intimacies. Wooden constructions, strings and other elements that make enclosures and limiting possible or those that mark such, isolated enclaves (for example by means of a banner) — all this is concerned with the still essential motif of a territory in Pinińska’s works. The territory — an enclosed space, framed or contained in a miniature room (My Enchanting Little Room, 1975). If you add to these various ready-made objects included in works (such as wash tub, dustpan, mirror, forks, knives, spoons, ironing board) we will get not only the whole range of restrictions (or even encirclement) of intimacy, and also a certain biting commentary on a horizon that is created for a sex in a cultural model that is accepted as a normal one. The horizon is made real through the artist’s work as a contextual frame of her activities.

Pinińska’s inscriptions have a role of natural components: they label, complement, explain. Such explanatory character (at the same time functioning as a “recipe”) is contained in for example such text: “screen is goad for all situations” (Screen) or “If you lower your voice too long, if you are not well, come to this Tent and shout! ” (Tent,1977, a white construction of a tent with a floor made of soft coverlet).

The obviousness of the presence of word is similar to equally obvious activity of including into works pictorial motives of figures and images like an outline of woman’s body on a blanket (A Fallen Woman, 1972), an imitation of a leg emerging out of the screen, the artist’s figure presenting itself directly in her last works. These performances by Pinińska are so strongly private since they are more frequently accompanied by a pink colour chosen by Pinińska as a personal one. This colour is partly approached as an object of inner preference and partly as a symbolic marking point of a quintessence of an idea of the woman. As far as Pinińska’s private aesthetics is concerned we may state that it is also of a “repertoire” character, filled with visual attraction, elements of methods belonging to several so-called artistic conventions she makes use of practically. There is also a place for a precise equation of the spatial elements of the structure as well as temporal enclaves chosen by an author for a purpose of artistic operations. It is a positive relict of a sculptural thinking. It is also aesthetics for which it is important every contextual situating of installations and activities in a given surrounding, that makes possible an adequate presenting of interpretative perspectives resulting from the position of the work itself. For example, during an open-air in Świeszyno in 1979 the artist made A monument of a place stretching a piece of cloth on high posts that surrounded a place where she made a pink circle and wrote: there is such a place on the earth. This tautological object that monumentalized its own situation of being a hill above the surrounding land, only stresses its context. In 1980 during an exhibition Woman’s art in Poznan she performed a piece entitled Laundry where she literally washed pieces of cloth with letters that, constituted a word “feminism”. It was a performance within the enclave of the women’s exhibition and a commentary contained an irony and criticism of this situation.

Pinińska’s idea to be in a given territory and marking her presence there by means of a pink colour and also by placing her own pink banner, is present in many works of Pinińska of the last years. During Cracow’s meeting in 1981 Pinińska presented a performance annexing a piece of grass in front of Cracow’s BWA. She planted a rose shrub there and warmed it by straw and placing in this real-metaphorical garden a pink banner she spoke out the text in several languages where she expressed her hope that the rose will bloom in pink colour in the spring of 1982. Making it again she placed together artistic fiction and reality. Without any doubt she is for victory of life, giving life not only metaphorical chance. It is not accidental that this work is called Live pink.

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