INSTEAD OF SCULPTURE (1968-71)
Curated by Anja Casser
Badischer Kunstverein is pleased to present the Polish artist Zofia Kulik in a solo exhibition. The show is concentrated on an early work by the artist, which has remained little known to date. Instead of Sculpture, created between 1968 and 1971 as Kulik’s graduation project at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, is now being shown in this scope for the first time in Germany. The work comprises around 500 photographs that Kulik projected as slides onto three screens simultaneously, as well as a thesis in which the artist expounds on her ideas related to an extended concept of sculpture.
Even before the art theorist Rosalind E. Krauss published her influential essay “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” (1979), Zofia Kulik was aware of the limitations inherent to conceiving sculpture as a static object. Instead, she advocated a dynamic, performative, and time-based treatment of sculpture—similar to the possibilities offered by the mediums of film and photography—and transfers this process-oriented approach into her artistic practice. “Film is sculpture and sculpture is film” is a quintessential quote by the artist by which she means to emphasize how closely analogous the two mediums are. The same applies to photography. At the time, she herself was continually underway with her photographic camera in order to document objects, models, and situations or to stage them for the camera with the aid of colors, textiles, and other materials. This gave rise to an extensive visual archive or photographic notebook that exhausts the possibilities of sculptural form far beyond the boundaries of the medium and radically defies conventional standardizations.
Instead of Sculpture (1968–71) offers insight into this comprehensive image production by Zofia Kulik and emphasizes the artist’s visionary approach. In the exhibition at Badischer Kunstverein, the photographs of the slide show are restaged as filmic projections, with the arrangement of the three adjacent images remaining intact. The projection is complemented by a series of photographic prints that liberates several sequences from the film and makes them available on the wall. The composition of the work follows a precise script by the artist. Visible are various colors, forms, and surfaces that Kulik compiles, pastes, paints, or cuts out of very simple materials like paper and textiles; also seen are found sites and architectures that have been processed by the artist until they are beyond recognition, or left as purely documentary pictures. Various nude poses are combined with classic casts, while fabric scraps or bandages dipped in plaster and glue refer to various bodily forms. Kulik imbues the things, places, and people in these images with a life of their own, continually transforming them before the eye of the beholder. The artist’s interest is focused on the specific logics involved in developing visual form and on the significance of perception within this context. Instead of Sculpture (1968–71) makes the most of the opportunities presented by the filmic and photographic gaze in order to approximate the form-giving process from as many manifold, unlimited perspectives as possible.
Between 1971 and 1987, Zofia Kulik and her partner at the time, Przemysław Kwiek, formed an artist duo by the name of KwieKulik. In 2018, the Kunstverein is planning a large retrospective focused on this important group of the Polish neo-avant-garde, in which context many of the works are being presented for the first time in decades.
The exhibition is a collaborative project with Glasgow Sculpture Studios.
Zofia Kulik (b. 1947 in Wrocław) lives and works in Warsaw (Łomianki).She studied Sculpture at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. In 1971, Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek formed the artistic duo KwieKulik, a project which lasted until 1987. Since 1987 Zofia Kulik has been working individually. Her works have been presented in international exhibitions, amongst others at the Polish Pavilion, Biennale di Venezia (1997); National Art Gallery, Prague (1998); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007); Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow (2016). Kuliks works are part of renowned international collections such as Tate Modern, London; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Museum, Wrocław, among many other public and private collections.