Kasia Derwinska’s art reminds me of the work of Leszek Bujnowski although it’s not because of her choice in subject matter; it’s her ability to invoke a sense of isolation with her images. Kasia has an awful lot of work to look through, but I didn’t even get off the first page before realising she was able to pull the viewer into a place of quiet which always helps to create the right kind of head-space to engage in contemplation. The difficulty I have is choosing which images to write about because there are so many which strike a chord. So I’ve decided to use an old tarot spread method and go with a past, present, and potential future theme except I get to see what I’m picking beforehand. We’re talking resonance here, and despite having decided to pick three, I, in fact, end up with eight and didn’t stick to my own self-imposed theme at all…
For a memory of ye olde past, I begin with The Umbilical Cord (shown above). It wasn’t just my parents I was able to cut myself off from; this was a strong theme for me throughout my early adult life. I am of the opinion that some people can cut free, and others can not. I’m not convinced it is solely down to the individual will either, I have seen life play its part when it comes to this issue. When I say life, what I really mean is circumstance. Sometimes, the circumstances we’re in can provide a helping hand when it comes to cutting free from people that are holding us back from growth. Leaving home for university, changing jobs, moving out of the area, and for some ~ death itself, are all examples of circumstance that can force us to examine the not-so-invisible-connections we hold with other people. They provide a more natural condition in which to reclaim some individual freedom.The older we get, the more likely this will apply to people we are in a relationship with ~ boss, lover, co-worker…the fact is, we end up forming these ties, and sometimes they become restricting rather than supportive. I think the key here is to know whether the tie belongs to the former or latter…and make the decision from there as to whether it’s time to pull out those scissors. The image below is more indicative of circumstance helping things along, the hand doesn’t belong to either of the people shown and to me that says the cut will originate from an external source. It may be worth noting that even after the line between them has been severed, they are free to step closer, or move further apart.
I found a second memory in Turtle Carapace, and with the original posting Kasia had given a quote:
Nobody can hurt me without my permission - Mahatma Gandhi
I remember making frequent jokes about my bubble. I was more than aware that I lived in one and worked hard to stay away from sharp objects and other things which might have caused it to burst. The problem is, anybody and everybody will burst your bubble if they get close enough so unless you’re happy to be permanently isolated from touch you’re going to have to take a risk now and then. My bubble wasn’t so much a defence against hurt from individual people, but the harsh reality of the sheer volume of fakery and bullshit which appeared to be so prolific once a step was taken outside of my own front door. Is it true that nobody can hurt me without my permission? I think it’s a nice quote if you need to bolster your confidence if you’re in a shitty relationship or job, but ultimately… factually…it is most definitely not true. The bubble, as unreal as it is, offers a place of inner safety. A psychic bolt-hole to protect against other people intruding on your vulnerability - I’m sure everyone must have one, but some of us need to spend more time in it than others.
How To Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later, (below, left) is a curious piece of work. I’m wondering if there isn’t a touch of satire in here because building a structure from cards is hardly likely to survive two hours let alone two days. To me, this image speaks of taking a chance, of playing a game, and the umbrella is offering enough protection if everything should come tumbling down around. The joker is visible, which could be further suggesting that there is indeed a game in play. I like the concept and imagine it is one which will resonate with many.
And then there are rocks…one of those persistent personal themes but felt most strongly back in 2013 when I had an enormous boulder as a cover photo over on G+. Man Is The Only Animal That Trips Over The Same Rock Twice (above, right) gives us the Sisyphean sized boulder, man with umbrella, dry riverbed, and what looks like a crow or a raven. How could I not be drawn to this? Is there a hint of a lucky escape? The umbrella would have offered no protection should that rock have fallen over the man’s head. Again, the title throws me off a little because there’s no chance of tripping over that thing it’s huge. So what IS the message here?
I am nearly always intrigued by the Grim Reaper’s presence in an image. In and I Promise Not To Love You Till Death Do Us Part (below), we see the old man himself with his all-too-familiar-scythe and a couple standing on barren land.
Kasia made a comment under the title saying;
promises are only as strong as the person who gives them
I think the image largely speaks for itself; nothing fertile is growing, and the couple are facing death - and yet the title suggests this was always a part of the deal anyway. It’s the comment she made underneath which suggests a twist; will the promise be kept or will it be broken? Or is it suggesting the promise already been broken?
With the image below titled Pride and Prejudice, Kasia had posted another appropriate quote:
All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride. - Sophocles
For me, The bridge in Pride and Prejudice represents the place where the past merges with the present but the quote makes it more about crossing a bridge to repair something. Traditional quotes have us ‘building bridges’ rather than ‘crossing’ them when we’ve had a disagreement but I see no signs of any tools here. The two figures at either side reinforce the theme of a need for someone to make the move. The bridge may not be sturdy enough for them to meet in the middle ~ which is what would be fair, yet the quote makes it clear that pride will have to be swallowed by at least one or the other for that connection to take place. It seems to represent a reality of life, that situations aren’t always fair, and in those instances, someone will have to step up to the plate at the cost of their own personal glory. There is a price to pay either way; whoever gets to stand still and wait has chosen to be seen as the lesser man by not sacrificing his pride and yet the other has to make the steps knowing fairness has not been maintained.
Life Is Not A Game, (above left) has been chosen for the present purely on the connection to my last post which contained a boat which had landed on a chessboard. Two over-sized pieces dwarf the human figure who also stands on the board. Is there a suggestion that any move is impossible, the pieces are too big to shift by human hand alone? In saying that Life Is Not A Game, does it mean that it doesn’t matter how big the pieces are because we’re not playing anyway? Or does it represent a fear of making decisions that appear to be a hundred times bigger than what they are in reality?
How can we ever really know what the future holds? The final image, Life Is A Matter of Choices, fits well with my own perspective which sees that we can be free to roll the dice but have no control over how they land. Kasia Derwinska has enough images showing cards and dice to let me think that she probably sees all choice as a gamble but is prepared to take the risk anyway. As with the over-sized chess pieces, are we seeing something being made bigger than what it is in reality? Are the chances we take blown out of all proportion to their true size? Is it worse if we have an over-active imagination as it is? The woman sat on the dice looks bereft, and suggests they maybe didn’t land as she’d hoped. Or maybe she didn’t have a hand in it at all, maybe fate or some supernatural entity just plonked her down where she now sits? An intriguing image which provokes as many questions as suggestions, and a more than appropriate piece to look at when thinking about the reality of choices.
Here are some links for ya! Kasia Derwinska has recently published a book with her work from the last three years, the details are on her website or her Facebook page.