Funny games, interview for BWA in Katowice, Poland/ part two
Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Marta Lisok: The monotonous process of piercing entails the obsessive repetition of one activity. Is the end result important to you?
Erwina Ziomkowska: The process of creating works is a kind of long-term contract, where nothing is fully defined, neither the time nor the effects. Due to the fact that I like total activities, i.e. activities that engage me completely, I undertook a difficult task, because it requires sacrifice, with no guarantee of results. The process was normal, as long as I was able to abandon holistic thinking in favor of the action itself (in the sense here-now), everything was going great at these moments. Leaning over the paper as wide as a room, I tried to focus only on the small fragment of white that landed in front of my eyes. And it started ... One day of such work, in fact, meant the moment when it is possible to regain awareness of your own body. Which was due to the simple fact that after a few hours of monotonous operation, it is simply impossible not to know that you have them. Legs go numb and hands and back hurt at first unbearable. The body, however, has amazing adaptive mechanisms, so after a while, you can move beyond suffering without feeling it so badly.
With such difficulties, it is rewarding to get even the smallest fragment that you pass. However, after a few hours, when you get up and see that the enormity of the struggle and effort is just a meaningless point in the overall picture, it begins to doubt. The longer I worked on the paper, the panic and anxiety grew stronger, and at some point, a protective barrier appears that tells me to stop, but then it is impossible to stop. So it begins to maneuver on the verge of mental stability. Initially cleansing and calming work, it turns into the area of extreme experiences. Exceeding the breaking point of the paper is also of great importance. By participating in the disintegration process, something that you stare at every day for a few months on average for 12 hours can accidentally fall victim to your own obsession. At least it made me such a hole in my head, a devastating gap that changes something in the process of perception. The moment reality becomes blurred, playing art becomes dangerous.
Marta Lisok: Is creating "rolls" a therapeutic process for you?
Erwina Ziomkowska: Working on rolls is a difficult, specific activity, containing a certain bipolarity. This ambivalence makes you go through a process of self-initiation. Such a mix of extreme states, from the actual silencing of all that shit in your head and around, to the state of fatigue and helplessness, when helplessness catches you, to reluctance. Approaching the creation in a radically intense way, at some point you realize that there will be no turning back, the machine has started and the door is closed.
Marta Lisok: How are your works received? Do the rolls force you to touch?
Erwina Ziomkowska: With extremely extreme reactions. Overall, it is quite an interesting experience for me when something so hermetic, difficult to perceive, quiet and actually unattractive causes some reactions, not to mention controversy. Their lively reception is something that still puzzles and shocks me. When they were created, I wondered if I would ever show them in public at all. Quite important is the fact that the strength of their influence is closely related to the awareness of the way in which they are formed. Under the influence of information, their perception changes radically, provoking new levels of understanding. Without a theoretical explanation, they limit the viewer only to aesthetic associations, an not fully defined object.
Marta Lisok: Are they a starting point for further activities, experiments with form and rehearsals? Are you going to continue this idea?
Erwina Ziomkowska: I am constantly accompanied by the need to tell stories that are not entirely unambiguous, dusty, a bit hermetic.
I am currently working on something that is kind of a continuation of the topic, but one that focuses much more on the ideas of absurdity. When it comes to continuing the puncture, in the sense of visual duplication, it is unlikely to happen, but the whole layer of indirect meanings, such as repetition, simplicity of a gesture or transformation, are still my obsession.
Overall, I have the impression that in a sense I am constantly telling the same story, and what is changing is just the approach and imagery that grows with me.