Sabtu, 19 Mei 2007

Ursula Sokolowska - the self as projection

Indeed, it looked suspicious.
You see, the combination of a mouth and a flower is usually considered sensual.
But in Ursula Sokolowska's art? This may be erotic. Actually, it may be considered sexual. But there is something too disturbing about it to make us think of a feminine, sensual image. The way the mouth is open, somewhat like at a medical exam - and then there's the projected image, which highlights some of the traces while completely eliminating, flattening out others. Thus, the mouth is both deep and shallow. The image spreads, but is strangely attached to the body that supports it.
See another example, my favorite:
Here, the limits are out-of-focus, only the lips remain crystal clear. And the void inside. This is one of the most purely baroque images I know, combining an apparent decorativeness with a powerful tension between the still and the life. As if beneath the surface of artistic illusion we received a sudden gust of reality.

And now, the proportions change. Sokolowska seems to focus more. Focus more on herself, and just focus more. The images can be seen as absolutely terrifying. Like some nightmare, some horrific vision.
And this is a vision, a vision of the artist's past, images of her childhood as the child of Polish immigrants. What we see are all the scary things one might associate with emigration: poverty, tough family relations, a feeling of loss and despair. A small child in hostile surroundings, be they a forest or a kitchen. And from time to time, the mother figure.


The child's face is taken from old pictures. And projected on faceless dolls. It actually looks like this face does not belong here. Which is possibly the most frightening.


But then, we should not forget the distance that is played out when using projection. Once again, the depth and the shallowness/surface play a subtle game. What we see is not a memory. It is a highly formalized game with memory. What captivates in these images is the uncertainty as to whether the form has made the ground safe enough for us to look. After all, a girl is staring at us from the picture. Funny thing, to use the technique of projection. As in a Freudian projection. Or in an image that is sent away from us, just to appear again. Paradoxically closer than the original.

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