Place: Jednostka Gallery, Andersa 13, 00-159 Warsaw, Poland
Open Galleries Weekend 20–21.06.2020:
– 20.06.2020 (Saturday), 12:00–20:00 / 17:00–20:00 The Bacchanalia with the artist’s participation
– 21.06.2020 (Saturday), 14:00–18:00
‘The face resists possession, resists my powers’
Magda Hueckel sets a trap for the viewer. The face is sense. The face is where the language, the meaning, and the meeting begin. The face is a starting point for thinking, and it is the face of the Other where you experience closeness. The face is also an experience of mystery. I see a face. But Hueckel is playing a game with me. How many people are there in the picture? Two? Or three? Who is the third one? Is the left profile the left side of the face? Or the right one? Who owned the polo golf that now belongs to the ‘third woman’? The scarf? The string of beads? Who did they belong to? Whose was the black eye? And who closed the eyes? The hair? The lipstick? The droopy mouth corners? Which part of the face seems swollen and sick? Even though it is neither sick nor swollen. This is just a trap of hasty associations. And the names? The new name belongs to the person you see en face. Ata. Barfia. Boga. Data. Doka. Elra. Which profile do the names Irena, Wanda, Zofia belong to? Are the names alphabetised? Are there letters you cannot start any name with? You cover the left half of the face with your hand and you see a new face that you couldn’t see before, but it has always been there. You see a new, harmonious face, and a very beautiful one. You start guessing, making up a new face in year head. And the names. You try to sort out your experience. But it is the third face and the third name that keep intriguing you.
Who am I looking at? If the profiles of the women are personae – their versions that want to impress, meet expectations, satisfy the needs of society, reach a compromise between their social role and personal dream of being perceived in a specific way while hiding their true nature – then how to treat the moment when the face masks of the personae are off and the true someone reveals themselves en face? Who? The one who is looking? Or perhaps, paradoxically, the ‘new’ face turns us back to ourselves, acts like a Rorschach test that you need to fill with your unconsciousness? It is none other but the non-existent face (which exists though, because you’re looking at it) that knocks the tools out of your hand and forces you to engage in a new game. We are looking for symmetry, compatibility between the components that we will put together, striving for perfection. We will look for harmony, order, a mirror reflection. But we won’t find them. We check the definition: “a figure is asymmetrical (chiral) if it is not superimposable on its mirror image without transiting into a space with more dimensions.” DNA is asymmetrical. What a relief. You need to find another, hidden dimension.
We experience the mystery of the Other’s face, asymmetrical and incomprehensible, and it is through the Other, through the Other’s look that we re-read ourselves. We enter another dimension.
“Nothing, except that the mad one is singing nonsense: A e i o u, what will I be tomorrow? First I was earth, then a stone, then a tree and a flower… And then the window opened, a huge, wonderful one. A e i o u, it seized me and there I was, like rustling forest… But they closed my window, closed it with heavy black wings. A e i o u, earth, stone and tree and no one will understand a word under the silent wings… Except for that, nothing has happened.” The incident at the psychiatric hospital described by Christine Lavant in her Memoirs from a Madhouse opens up new possibilities for interpretation. Hueckel invites us to explore madness as a new energy that can transform into a new form. One that becomes a promise, a dangerous and unknown potency that has been suppressed for centuries. Is it directing us towards the aspect of femininity that we fear to face? Towards the bacchants who are tearing Pentheus apart? Towards Christine Lavant, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Camille Claudel and many, many other women? Hueckel wants us to be ‘face-to-face,’ that is to meet humans as they are. There is drama in such an encounter, and ‘drama makes a tragedy possible,’ as Józef Tischner wrote. We are experiencing something incomprehensible and repressed that escapes language. We are experiencing something dangerous that we have never seen so lucidly before. But our experience is subjective and that is what Hueckel’s perverse game is all about – while looking at her pictures, we are looking at ourselves.
Maja Kleczewska, Face to Face
The pictures have been made from portraits of real women gathered in a medical archive, to which the artist has added her own image. Maneads are an idea made up of dozens of individual stories and experiences. Maneads do not satisfy expectations. They are wild and peaceful at the same time. They don’t pretend to be anything. They look into the lens nonchalantly and boldly. They don’t pose. They are authentic, strong and incisive. They emanate intensity of existence. They are a symbol of the experience of femininity and feminine strength that have been repressed in culture for centuries. A woman’s primeval strength, bond, sense of dignity, but also stigmatisation, discrimination and trauma. The Maenads have arisen from the artist’s desire to create a portrait capturing the experience of being a woman.
The photographs are presented with a sound installation, which is a record of a meeting between five women, moderated by Joanna Halszka Sokołowska.
Sound: Mateusz Adamczyk
Sound editing: Tomasz Śliwiński
Partners: University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz, Artesola Gallery, Holy-Art, Pracownia Oprawy, Powszechny Theatre
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, guests are kindly requested to keep social distance and wear masks. Ten people can be present within the venue of Magda Hueckel’s exhibition at one time.
Open Galleries Weekend 20–21 June 2020:
Magda Hueckel, GRANA from the ‘Meanads’ series (2020)
Magda Hueckel, ADGA from the ‘Meanads’ series (2020)
Magda Hueckel, JONA from the ‘Meanads’ series (2020)