SOFIA GOSCINSKI | BELIEVER
The fragment of a body transmits cryptic signals: a bent arm, its upper end leading into a stump. The biceps slightly tensed, completely without the toning of muscle exercises, fist clenched. The thumb and digitus quintus of the long-limbed hand are splayed out, while the index and ring fingers, wedged into one another, form a triangle.
The curved middle finger rests on the arm stump. It is this detail that the clay sculpture entitled Le main d'Artaud owes its self-enclosed form. The obvious association here is to Antonin Artaud, the theatre revolutionary between genius and madness, with an ascetic appearance, something martyr-like dwelling there already in early years.
The relic-like object radiates - like so many works by Sofia Goscinski - an existential fundamental mood and mysteriousness.
INSTALLATION VIEWS | Unttld Contemporary
In her third solo presentation at unttld contemporary, Goscinski brings together sculptures and pictures under the title Believer, albeit - at first glance at least - they seem only loosely related. Besides Le Main d'Artaud, we encounter a portrait of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sketched in limber brushstrokes, a rain dancer with water jug in Desert Plants - ceiling-high, concrete-gray steles -, a floor sculpture made of a coat and bronzed hands jutting out of the sleeves.
The latter evokes the association with gestures of prayer or submission. And then a canvas work, the background washed in skin color, on which the English adverb Not seems to turn into fluid. Out of the ground of the thickly layered paint, scarcely perceivable, there arises the word Paranoia. And finally - in this highly idiosyncratic combination of very different carriers of meaning - the self-portrait of the artist in the form of a death mask.
What to believe or not to believe in to give direction to one's own life? Which inner attitude needs to be fostered, which standpoint taken, which conviction pursued? Fundamental questions like these lay the intellectual foundations for the exhibition Believer. Taking up the lead provided by the title, the single components of the show plausibly converge.
Artaud, who tirelessly tweaked at his conception of a theatre of cruelty, which though at the time never quite came together, but exerted enormous influence on following generations. Assange, who swears by the democratizing power of the internet to put an end to political secretiveness and covert operations. Demonized by his opponents, venerated by his allies because he campaigns for a transparent knowledge society.
In Goscinski's exhibition, Believer does not mean the followers of religious or ideological communities. Rather, the artist is interested in actions and their consequences which are grounded in individual will and convictions, not fixated into dogmas. Thus finally, the death mask as self-portrait functions as a mirror. Who am I? What do I believe in? Or have trust in? What am makes me up and what can I bring about? Sofia Goscinski stages the dilemma of (artistic) self-reflection against the foil of famous names, symbolic landscapes and ritual-like props. As visitors to her exhibition we are - at the end - thrown back to ourselves. And ponder.
PRESS RELEASE TEXT
Sofia Goscinski's work is marked by values, rituals and the relation between objects and material. Her pieces are are imbued by a mystic aura which evokes a kind of fascination, seemingly familiar and yet not. They invite to further engagement potentially leading to hypothetical explanation for their existence. Goscinski's works lure the viewer into a world of fantasy and curiosity, far away from our daily routines. Simultaneously, the viewer is confronted with societal and personal malfunction which hits back reality and evokes a deep feeling of uncanny irritation.
Her pieces induce animist myths, and denote a signposted history of the arts. The artist integrates its symbols into her own aesthetics, creating a signature language of form. Sofia Goscinski disconcerts the viewer both aesthetically, by undermining any possible trendiness and also conceptually, by concealing the interpretive trails, leading to a powerful tension. A recurring concept in Sofia Goscinski's oeuvre is the testing of limits of her viewer's awareness, as well as her own. Her work, which embraces and frequently overlaps a wide range of media including sculpture, photography, performance, video and readymade, questions basic values that form the cornerstones of modern society like happiness, freedom and sanity, and presents them in a way that throws them into the fray with their evil counterpart (sadness, captivity, madness), moving along the fine line that demarcates them.
Author: Eva Haberfellner