Zofia Kulik: Instead of Sculpture
Significant work by overlooked Polish artist exhibited in GSS's first historic show
Zofia Kulik, born 1947 in Warsaw, has enjoyed a renewed interest in her work this past decade. Not only because it's right to give overlooked older female artists their due, but because her work ties together many concerns that have become fashionable in recent years. But unlike many current artists whose work is engaged with the problem of documentation, Kulik – an artist who in the 70s worked against the backdrop of communist-era Poland and the censorship this entails – has experienced first-hand the significance of what is and isn't preserved for dissemination.
This is the first time Glasgow Sculpture Studios has exhibited an historic artwork, and it's the first time that this work, titled 'Instead of Sculpture', has been shown in its entirety as the artist had originally intended, but wasn't able to due to a lack of printing facilities in Warsaw at the time. Given Kulik's preoccupation with temporality, the fact this work has laid dormant for 45 years makes its realisation by the artist in 2016 all the more pertinent.
Displayed in a narrow vitrine that forces the viewer to take a lap round the whole gallery space in a predetermined direction, Kulik seems to wants us to experience the work not as a presentation of individual images, but as a whole, the contact prints acting as components for the larger work. In fact, it is impossible to look at the images face on because they are arranged in a procession always marching away from you at a 90-degree angle.
The images themselves were made between '68 and '71, and show peculiar performative processes with odds and ends of materials used in diverse situations and locations: The transient and anarchic nature of the sequences can perhaps be seen as a direct refutation of the socialist realist style so prevalent in Poland at the time. This is an open-ended work that doesn't set out to answer the question 'What is the difference between sculpture and film?' (Or the difference between something permanent and ephemeral) but which nonetheless has helped pave the way for generations of medium-defying artists.
Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Sat 3 Dec, free.