artists & participants

press release

Marzena Nowak's work is characterized by subtle structures in which the ephemeral and fragile attain form and become visible. Her reductive 'images' for the mental and emotional are conceptually precise and at the same time poignantly sensual. The artist proves to be walking the line in many ways: in establishing a connection between painting, drawing, photography, video, sculptural objects and installation thematically, she also draws into focus the relation between personal experiences and socio-cultural framing conditions. A central role is played here by the transforming power of memory in which original facts merge with later projections and form new hybrid concepts. Characteristic for this are her painted metal objects that reference toys from childhood, like plastic balls, skipping ropes or wooden blocks and on first glance appear no different from them. However, the airiness, lightness and mobility so characteristic of playthings congeal into weighty symbols. In these painted objects, the past acquires a new tint and memories of play fuse with the playful aspects of memory. The field of tension indicated in these works between the joyful, playful self-reference, and the rules and norms determined by the games themselves as well as by the outside world circumscribes a specific thematic aspect within an oeuvre which is generally characterized by the making visible of ambiguous tensions. Therefore the artist also employs fragments of her own body in her videos, for example when she shows monotonous and repetitive gestures of her hands that tell us that physical proximity and distance, tenderness and pain as well as self-determination and loss of control are interlinked phenomena. She thus not only subverts clichéd polarizations of emotional states but also questions the notion that mental states are purely subjective experiences. In the repetitive-monotonous body language personal states of mind become manifested not only as issues of intimacy, but also as echoes of early memories of a hermetic social order and its effects on private life. Some of Marzena Nowak's objects are reminiscent of former living spaces whose dimensions―that is, the spaces between them and her own body or the furniture and the walls―she reconstructs in the form of metal bars in various lengths. In this way, the in-between and empty spaces take concrete form and at the same time their very presence indicates the absence of the real objects. Thus these works not only imagine absent true to scale space, but in their shapes memory also obtains concrete and, at the same time, abstract form. In another work with references on architecture she transforms one corner of the museum into an ostensibly domestic, intimate atmosphere through a carpet and circulating wall moulding. Yet, the carpet is merely a fragment, so that its presence recalls the absence of furniture and liveability. And upon further reflection, the circulating wood moulding emerges as a requisite that should protect the wall from human traces and thereby possesses a bodily resistant role. So the space suggests a homeliness that at once appears broken and is able to induce critical reflections on internalized perceptions about room and body.

The role of memory in Marzena Nowak's work also refers to the significance of time in. The passage of time and its function as measure for human actions informs the conceptual approach in her new paintings as well. Here the expressive and emotional aspects of color are subjected to an analytical painterly process executed on a prescreened base, making the act of painting appear like a kind of metric counting process. But within the geometric preset order a free play of colors and structures appears. Density and empty spaces combine into a disturbing spatial weave of a dynamic openness in which deviation and order become continually intertwined. These paintings display a systematic abstraction that still allows for the coincidental and the unpredictable. With their pixilated patterned structure they trace an arc to not only the patchwork of painted gaming pieces but also to the fragmented and patterned, colorful rug objects as well. Even their brightly colored splendor and their ornamental patterns contain gestures of repetition and monotony, thus reflecting memories of days gone by. For the viewer such references turn the individual works into a dynamic and open network and transform the interstices of the exhibition space into an in-between space with 'weight.'

text by: Rainer Fuchs

Originated within the program Signs of Time, the Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun has been opened in 2008 as the first centre since 1939 designed and built in Poland specifically for promoting visual arts and other contemporary forms of expression. After three years of successful activity it can be considered as a fairly 'young' institution which is still in the process of defining of its institutional profile. Project Focus Poland has been conceived as one of the main axes around which this profile should be shaped. It's goal is to position CoCA as a cultural platform able to establish a dialogue with the local environment which not only has a very valuable cultural tradition, but is also an important university centre. At the same time the project wants to respond to the challenges of a newly built institution that has the potential to take part in a wider, national and international artistic discourse. Focus Poland is a project that should shape structurally the identity of the institution as a space of production and diffusion of knowledge, and therefore not only it should provide content for the exhibitive venues, but moreover it should serve the community of art professionals and scholars, students and researchers, as well as artists and even broader public. This project consists in few interlinked levels among which the initial one will be establishment of a database and research centre dedicated to Polish artists of younger generation or to those not yet gained greater international recognition. This will constitute also a point of departure for the research activity of a group of international curators invited to realize an exhibition with an artist of Polish origin within the exhibitive space of CoCA within the quadrennial program that will be realized in the period 2011 / 2014. Focus Poland aims to promote the idea of discursive museum which articulates its activity not only through program of exhibitions but also through a series of other initiatives, including collecting and storing of information about activity of artists of Polish origin, as well as encounters and lectures by involved curators and their involvement in promotional activity of this institution and of Polish art beyond the national borders.

text by: Dobrila Denegri (CoCA's artistic director)

only in german

to – Marzena Nowak
Kurator: Rainer Fuchs