Anna Łuczak’s porcelain objects, like still lifes, freeze a memory that melts into the present.
The installations encourage us to understand time and space as a continuous material flow in which the past folds into the present. Over the past year or so, Anna has shown me interesting film clips that cause me to pause and think. Here, recognizing that memory is an unreliable witness, are my reflections on her work, refracted through a few fragments of media we have seen together.
Firstly, Anna showed me a film of a philosopher sitting in a chair. As far as I remember he just sat and talked. My memory of the film may be imprecise, but in my mind’s eye the philosopher was wearing crimpling trousers, a beige sports-casual acrylic jumper, leather Jesus sandals and socks. The philosopher was speaking from beyond the grave (as philosophers tend to do). He talked about how time, space and memory fold into each other. The wrinkled philosopher spoke of how surfers ride on a fold of water, and how they could propose new forms of folding to us. As they glide through tunnels in the ocean, they fold an apprehension of themselves into themselves. The same might be said of origami devotees who extend the folding in their minds into real space and fold it back into a tidy self-conception. The philosopher’s manner of speech actually seemed to perform a folding as he spoke out of his crumpled image about the continuity of things and time, and how we might understand our becoming and not spend so much time worrying about being. Or at least that’s how I remember it – he may have been wearing a polo shirt, or even a wedding dress. Gaps in memory leave space for fabrication and reinvention.
I also remember discussing a movie with Anna Łuczak. In the film, two drunken lovers discussed where a person starts and ends. If you amputate each part, member-by-member, they speculated, at what point do the pieces stop being a particular person? If you cut off this person’s head, would any of the person remain in the fragments of the decapitated body? And when the lights go out for good, where does the person go? This led us to consider that maybe things and people are crumples in a single cloth and that the philosopher and the person who made the movie were pulling at different ends of the same fabric.
When things are lost in translation, new things are created. The human mind recognizes patterns from fragments of language. Language is a part of us and also outside of us – it structures our existence and folds through things and through people. Sometimes the continuity between things is invisible to us and we only see fragments of the larger fabric. There have been periods in history when our tendency to fragment, to make dis- creet blocks of being, has broken down. At the height of the baroque period, for instance, a piece of furniture could fold into a sculpture that could then fold into the fabric of a building. People could surf through these continuous spaces, and even pass their own reflection as they glided through the surface of a mirror. When a fabric becomes porcelain, as with a Meissen porcelain figurine, or a fragment by Anna Łuczak, the ephemeral moment is frozen in time. They are both trying to fold a memory of what happened into themselves, just as a still life folds the moment when ripeness turns to de- cay into an image. The lemon plucked from a tree, pul- sating with the zest of life, folds into its incarnation as a porcelain figure, which for three hundred years has been waiting on a table, veiled by a glassy sheen, for our apprehension.
Text from Nothing Could Be Slow Enough, Nothing Last Too Long, a book published on the occasion
of an graduation exhibition of Master of Fine Arts, Piet Zwart Institute, TENT, Rotterdam 2013
on the work of Anna Maria Łuczak