LOVE Week: Marta Zgierska & Mateusz Sarełło: Garden
“My collages are an attempt to inscribe myself in the existing Mateusz’s photographs, which are traces of his bumpy love relationships, an attempt to find my subjectivity in them. I make interventions into the images of old bouquets. I replace flowers with my own body, lips, eyes, ears blossom on dried stems. I give dead plants new life – through a living, present body. At the same time I lose myself, I become entangled with history and the plant, I become a projection of it. – Marta Zgierska about Garden
Taking a visual stroll through the “Garden” created by the team of Marta Zgierska and Mateusz Sarełło is a surrealistic adventure in the power of love, travail, desperation and hope. Published by Blow Up Press, this is a garden that Hieronymus Bosch would love to explore with its bouquets of flowers that might reach out to touch you through entwined fingers or stare at you with eye blossoms that gaze with adoration or disdain. These are visual delights on a grand scale presented lovingly in a gorgeous large format volume that is an object to behold and to hold. A textured embossed botanical cover in white and pale green opens with a full-page image of a flower you may or may not recognize due to the photographic magic and collages employed by the artists. These are flowers and bouquets that are deconstructed and transformed into a new reality and being.
Garden is a conceptual love story that mirrors the all-too-common patterns of contemporary relationships including the passion, the break-up, the longing for what once was, and the fears and hopes for the future. The bouquets of human body parts break down the issues in symbolic gestures. The future outlook is visually described by means of negatives of empty crystal vases on dark somber backgrounds that end the book. What bouquets will be forthcoming is the unanswered question that confronts the viewer. Answers are best left to one’s imagination.
The book, itself, is large and imposing (at 16×12 inches). Yet it is delicately designed with luxurious and differing papers that mirror the mood of each visual chapter. The photographs/collages are presented one to a page or spread which gives the viewer the impression of a botanical compendium. The images, themselves, are delicate yet powerful in their simplicity. One wonders what those eyes and ears are seeing and hearing.
According to Marta Zigerska, “My collages are an attempt to inscribe myself in the existing Mateusz’s photographs, which are traces of his bumpy love relationships, an attempt to find my subjectivity in them. I make interventions into the images of old bouquets. I replace flowers with my own body, lips, eyes, ears blossom on dried stems. I give dead plants new life – through a living, present body. At the same time, I lose myself, I become entangled with history and the plant, I become a projection of it. For me, replacing the flowers with my own body, multiplied many times over, is a compulsive attempt to mark my presence, lined with the anxiety of yet another loss, which after time turns out to be the courage to leave. The catalogue of vases presented in the negative belongs to me. Empty, perhaps waiting to be filled, reduced only to their own shape and light.”
Marta Zgierska – visual artist based in Lublin, Poland. Currently a PhD student in the Doctoral School of Humanities and Arts. She holds MFA in Photography (Polish National Film School in Lodz), MA in Theatrology and MA in Journalism. In her artwork she asks the question about the status of woman as subject and object of representation, as well as about the condition of contemporary human beings in general. She brings a personal touch to the motives undertaken, using her own body and often placing herself in the role of the object of performance. The most important contexts for her actions are the fragility of the body, weakness and withdrawal understood as a reaction to the pressure of reality. Her works have exhibited in numerous museums, galleries and festivals. Winner of Prix HSBC pour la Photographie 2016 and many other awards. Nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award and the DZ BANK Art Collection Fellowship. Follow Marta Zgierska on Instagram @martazgierska_
Mateusz Sarełło – photographer, curator, author and editor of photobooks, currently based in Lviv, Ukraine. Resident of Cite des Arts in Paris in the framework of the City of Paris Grant. His book Swell (Instytut Kultury Wizualnej, 2013) was chosen as a finalist in Pictures of the Year International and also earned a honourable mention in the Best Photography Book from Central and Eastern Europe. He received awards and distinctions in numerous competitions: Prix Photo La Quatrieme Image, Center Santa Fe Awards, Lucie Foundation Scholarship, Celeste Prize, FotoVisura Grant, Photolucida Critical Mass. Previously associated with the Institute of Visual Culture in Warsaw. His works have been exhibited internationally at festivals and in galleries. Juror of competitions, among others Grand Press Photo. Follow Mateusz Sarello on Instagram: @mateusz_sarello
Garden is published by Blow Up Press in Warsaw, Poland and can be ordered at: https://blowuppress.eu/products/garden
Marta Zgierska and Mateusz Sarełło
A body on a quest for its own reconstruction.
On one hand, a man on the edge between a breakup and a new relationship. On the other – a woman trying to mark her presence in the man’s life in order to free him from the toxic past. On one hand, dried bouquets of flowers that never reached the addressee are reborn, creating a chance for a new life together. On the other – empty vases impose a more or less polished form on this life, inscribing it in certain conventions.
As François Cheval writes in the essay accompanying the publication: “A body on a quest for its own reconstruction is what Marta Zgierska and Mateusz Sarełło are inviting us to consider. Despite the face’s withdrawal, despite the anonymity, the dispersion resulting from the dismemberment doesn’t tell us that it has disappeared. The numerous details arranged into bouquets place, by contrast, this singular experience as the founding of a new horizon.
In this strange Garden, the fantastic, surreal component makes this short and thickset photographic story a tragicomedy of the body. Photography, and this is one of its rare qualities, has the capacity to model flesh, to make it into a Dionysiac incident. To the real world’s agitation, the medium opposes a symbolic, grotesque violence by exploring new and surprising forms. Do Marta Zgierska and Mateusz Sarełło hope that a happy end may arise from this monstrous collage, that a radiant future can be rebuilt? And how can the details of a body, which is experienced in everyday life, as it is experienced in pleasure, transform into a founding event, above the ruins of past morbidity?”
“For me, replacing the flowers with my own body, multiplied many times over, is a compulsive attempt to mark my presence, lined with the anxiety of yet another loss, which after time turns out to be the courage to leave.
“The catalogue of vases presented in the negative belongs to me. Empty, perhaps waiting to be filled, reduced only to their own shape and light.”
How to order: https://blowuppress.eu/
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