“I recently asked myself: “Why are the huge whirlwinds and giant sea monsters always being seen as a threat in pirate movies, and no one mentions the endless drifting islands of rubbish …? “Imagine how terrifying would be the vision of throwing the popular figure of Captain Jack Sparrow on such an island. Or his opponent, Davy Jones, a slave of the seas, not growing up in shells but toxic batteries. With neck, which is choked by a plastic string and belly full of cork. It is known that some things are better and more convenient to ignore. I was just wondering what would happen if general consciousness was shaped by what is actually important.” Ewa Markiewicz
The work consists of four parts. “Choleric” is about three meters high, dominating over the recipient. It is on the top with a dense structure of a navy blue sharp point. The form is logically arranged, but it gives the impression that everything can fall over in a moment. “Phlegmatic” is an elongated, gently interpenetrating and undulating surface. Delicate colours are stretched between the structure, illustrating calmness and ability to adapt to every situation. “Sangwinic” is divided into seven smaller and independent parts in different sizes and colours. All parts are suspended under the ceiling and you can play with them and sway gently. There is also “Melancholic”, still unfinished, in progress. It will be a cuboid with an asymmetrical internal division.
I was inspired by the observation of children during summer trips, where I worked as a tutor. The groups were large for better cooperation, I tried to identify similar ways of expressing emotions and individual habits. These observations reminded me of the distinction between choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholic. With full awareness of the superficiality of a given pattern, I found in it a brilliant tool for educational and then artistic work.
The essence of that sculptural work has been to compose a system of contrasting parts forming a coherent spatial arrangement. I also wanted the material to accumulate and develop – as a human character and a way to know it.
Initially, I was only looking for the right module to build forms. To simplify matters, it was urgent to buy identical cubes, balls, small industrial elements, everything that can be purchased in dizzying quantities and low prices. It quickly became obvious that it is not necessary to increase the amount of garbage and that I want to solve the problem of material in a special way. During the academic year, I stopped throwing out the pure plastic. However, the plastic bottles were too big as a module and quickly filled the space under my bed. It was necessary to keep only the bottlenecks. To get more material I established cooperation with the management of the Student Houses of the Academy of Physical Education in Krakow. The two basements of these dormitories have become the place of my several months of work. Plastic bottles were pulled from the waste bags, the cups were unscrewed, the threads were cut off and a new segregation was started. Unfortunately, in trash bags very often there were cans, glass bottles, accidental rubbish … After collecting each next bucket the contents were thoroughly washed in boiling water and washing fluids. To unify the material the remaining the bottlenecks were cut off the rings. For further work, the material was sorted according to colours. By the way, almost ten thousand parts have been counted.
At the beginning, the purpose of my artwork was only to depict ancient theory and simple observation. I quickly came to a bitter reflection that human behaviour and habits will affect this work more than I would like. Liquidity, layering, constancy-SCHEME THAT WILL SURVIVE AGES. I noticed analogies that I would rather not know. Adjectives that were a determinant of human psyche became malicious sarcasm. In terms of ecology, I still cannot do much more than when I was a child who was scared of the island of garbage in the distant ocean.
I can only express my surprise louder and more clearly and still make every effort to segregate everything that falls into my hands. I can start only from myself, but I hope that the image of what can be created alone from materials collected in a short time will be remembered by the receiver better than words.
Three actions with the public of Universal Sea
1. A plastic bottle is a public item. Only in four months, I sorted almost ten thousand bottles. How much more could we achieve if anyone would help me? What if more people were to collect and properly segregate waste? I would like everyone to do their best to make it happen. I would like to “get out of the cellars” and involve more people, starting with the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko and other places in Poland. Thanks to this cooperation, we could together finish the last form of the project “Bile versus phlegm” (“Melancholic”). From the elements that will remain, we could create other equally interesting spatial forms or small decorations. The scale of these works affects the imagination, awareness and reflections of the receivers. Joint action, through experience, could have a real impact on the future.
2. In the 16th century, Poland was famous for its beautiful hand-woven tapestries (which can be seen at Wawel in Krakow now). And my city- Pabianice – has developed thanks to the textile industry. My grandparents have spent most of their lives in textile factories. One of the grannies still has a loom (frame) for weaving tapestries in the attic and sometimes weaves something small for pleasure. I would also like to do it. Unfortunately, the price of natural yarn is too expensive for me.
In Poland, at a time when my mother was a child, everyone who had a plastic bag was very proud of it. Each plastic bag was very respected and used many times. We currently have too many plastic bags. I would like to combine these stories and try to create a big plastic tapestry. It’s always a big job, so I’d like to invite others to help. Anyone who would bring a used advertisement bag could join the work. Would a tapestry be an illustration of a sea – pure or plastic? This action I would like to carry out in Venice or possibly in Kosovo because a lot is said about the pollution of these places.
3. I still remember the movie that I watched as a child. The film, which changed my perception of the slogan “desert island”, was about the infinite island of garbage drifting across the oceans. It seemed to me then that the problem did not concern me, because how could one little girl contribute to this? I recall my own surprise when the host of the programme chose waste from the top and put it next to each other: a stack of toothbrushes, coloured combs,…. In Poland, at a time when my father was a child, you could buy only one toothbrush pattern. Some young boys collected used toothbrushes and processed them. As a result, for example, holders for hand-held knives were created. Because the plastic that was ever produced still exists (and it`s still coming), I would like to encourage everyone to process this raw material for things that are useful. I would also like to encourage collecting used toothbrushes or other disposable items among different people. I could try to melt them into one solid and try to carve something in them (Because at the moment, for me as a sculptress, plastic is the same material for my artistic activities as the noble marble of Carrara for Michelangelo – plastic is eternal and there is plenty of it everywhere.
And we could create a tower-anywhere in the world. The idea is to play the game in such a way as to arrange the towers together. They can be assembled from modules (the construction will be a little stronger) that will be a collection of plastic from one person, family or company.
I would like us to build an artistically interesting installation. The problem, the essence and challenges boil down to one question that we all need to find the answer to how to make this tower of plastic not fall on our head?
Or at the seaside, we could combine business with pleasure and process a large number of bottles on a raft and floating homemade floating objects.
Everything depends on the amount and variety of collected items.
Born in 1989 in Poland. A graduate of the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow (Master of Arts, 2012- September 2017), Pedagogical Studies (2013-15) at the Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and Faculty of Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź (bachelor’s degree, 2009-2012).
Participant in Polish and foreign plein-airs (among others: III International Sculpture Symposium in Grodziec in 2011, International Workshop in sandstone in Horice in 2011- with Faculty of Arts at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic; Grand Prix at the 8th Sculpture Festival in Snow-White Territory organized by the Centre of Art EL Gallery in Elbląg 2012; etc.). Participant of numerous group exhibitions (among others: II Student Biennale of Small Sculptural Form in Poznań; “From Lodz” exhibition of Sculpture and Activities in the Space of the Visual Arts Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź-Gallery of the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic; “Individuality “exhibition of works by students of the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow during the 42nd Scientific Symposium of the Artistic Agency GAP-Szczyrk 2016; etc.).