M. about M. (1995)
(The text was published in exhibition catalogue: Women about Women, Bielska BWA Gallery, Bielko-Biała 1996)
I think I hadn’t done anything that could be called “feminine art” until the year 1960. It is since that year that certain elements characteristic of that kind of attitude have appeared in my work. They were for instance little hand-sewn saddle-cloths spread under the massive, concrete Rotundas.
However, in 1965 I decided to give up the sculptor’s materials and techniques. The decision was all the more heroic being that I had been a clever student of sculpting, praised by the master — Prof. Xawery Dunikowski. My later work hadn’t given me any reasons to feel disappointed either. Still, it was the time when I felt I needed to create what was genuine and stemming directly from the artist’s personality The Rotundas were still to some extent part of the cultural continuum of the traditional sculpture. Now the time had come for a wholesale liberation of the artist’s personality. And the artist in that case happened to be a woman with a whole lot of experiences that I would refer to now as “feminine”. I hadn’t yet heard of feminism then and I tended to conceal my experiences, observations and grievances. But once I started to speak for myself and released my feminine resources. suddenly a river welled up that even I myself find sometimes embarrassing. Then it’s hard for me to face the audiences at exhibitions with their aggressive or mocking comments. For a number of years my exhibits were destroyed by anonymous visitors. So the area of contents… I thought, however, that for art to be fully feminine it was not enough to reach for the eternally feminine techniques. My sculptures were sewn by hand, stuffed, moulded and coloured. For a while I used the technique of gluing successive layers of paper on top of one another. I fulfilled at least one requirement: I could carry my sculptures by myself. Before, when I used cast metal, I had always depended on men to help me transport my pieces. So I invented my own feminine technique and started to speak for myself and express myself. In 1965 I thought I was leaping in the void. The leap was risky as I was leaving behind all my previously acquired skills and technical know-how. Yet the call of authenticity prevailed and I began to fill the void…
First there was a series of Corsets. I made them between 1965 and 1967. The corset was a prison not only for the woman’s body but also for her mind. Following the table entitled The Feast in 1968 I started another series, which I then called the working name of Psychofurniture. The seventies were marked by the annexation of space — the pieces spread over the space of the exhibition halls and interfere with the environment. Then, there appeared a number of performances. Pink becomes my distinctive, “designer’s” colour. It was in the late seventies that I first heard my art being referred to as feminine. Did I find it important? I was astonished. On the one hand it raised hopes that I would find some souls akin to mine, but on the other hand, it brought a number of artistic disappointments for the instrumentalist approach to art by European feminists, as in the case of the Internationale Feministische Kunst exhibition in the Hague.
For the last decade I have been conducting a dialogue or, should I say, playing a kind of game with art. Whatever I have managed to express about my sex and whatever emotional experiences I have gone through while wrestling with the taboo and the anti-women commandments. I have remained convinced of the superiority of art.
25 VII 1995
Translation by Bogusław Bierwiaczonek