A Man with Two Seesaws / Людина на двох гойдалках / Człowiek i dwie huśtawki



Curated by Björn Geldhof
Co-curated by Maria Lanko
August 28 – September 2, 2012
Pinchuk Art Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine

Exhibition in a frame of “Transfer” project realized in collaboration with Centre for Contemporary Art
Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw

Monika Zawadzki. “A Man with Two Seesaws”, 2012. “The Woman Comes In, She Sits Down on a Chair and Takes Another Chair on her Knees. The Woman Comes In, She Sits Down on a Chair, Another Chair Comes In and It Sits Down on her Head”, 2012. “Skipping-Rope”, 2009. Exhibition view “A Man with Two Seesaws”, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2012. Courtesy of Pinchuk Art Centre

Monika Zawadzki. “A Man with Two Seesaws”, 2012. Sketch of the sculpture and graphic. .

Elements of the Installation


1. “A Man with Two Seesaws”, 2012. Sculpture, 440 x 170 x 200 cm, epoxy, metal, acrylic paint.
2. “The Woman Comes In, She Sits Down on a Chair and Takes Another Chair on her Knees. The Woman Comes In, She Sits Down on a Chair, Another Chair Comes In and It Sits Down on her Head”, 2012. Mural, 300 x 400 cm, acrylic paint, black.
3. “Skipping-Rope” (1), 2009. Video, loop, 8”.
4. “Interview with Monika Zawadzki by Maria Lanko”, August 2012. TTS, 5’25”.


1. Part of the installation “Anyone”. Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, 2010.


Elementy instalacji


1. „Człowiek i dwie huśtawki”, 2012. Rzeźba, 440 x 170 x 200 cm, żywica epoksydowa, metal, akryl.
2. „Kobieta wchodzi, siada na krześle i sadza kolejne krzesło na kolana. Kobieta wchodzi, siada na krześle, kolejne krzesło wchodzi i siada na jej głowie”, 2012. Mural, 300 x 400 cm, czarny akryl.
3. „Skakanka” (1), 2009. Wideo, loop, 8”.
4. „Rozmowa Marii Lanko z Moniką Zawadzki”, sierpień 2012. TTS, 5’25”.


1. Element instalacji „Anyone”. Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, Warszawa, 2010.


Zawadzki develops a language which combines graphic strategies with a high developed research into forming cultural and private identities. With these new productions which are presented at the exhibition, the artist makes a new step in her work combining different media to develop a complex multidimensional discourse.


Björn Geldhof (1), 2012


1. Artistic manager of the PinchukArtCentre, curator of the show.


Завадскі створює мову, у якій поєднуються графічні стратегії з глибоким дослідженням формування культурної та особистої самобутності. За допомогою нових творів, представлених на виставці, художниця робить новий крок, комбінуючи різні медіа для створення складного багатовимірного дискурсу.


Бйорн Гельдхоф (1), 2012


1. Арт-менеджер PinchukArtCentre, куратор виставки.

ML: In your work you use deliberately simplified graphic forms (parts of human or animal bodies, objects, geometric figures) to talk about imposition of identities and its consequences. This in a way is a very specific language, which I even see as a visual alphabet – can you agree with this linguistic analogy? Could you also speak about the development of this language and its translation into sculpture, posters and painting?
MZ: I created a set of elements – a woman, a man, a dog, a cow. Starting from drawings and classical techniques, I worked to find a form that I will feel comfortable with and now I use it automatically. I decided to limit my visual language radically to make it invisible. I don’t want to divert attention from the subject, which is the most important element in my work. Sometimes people concentrate only on the formal side but for me its unimportant – just everything needs to have form.
ML: You address the questions of dominance and repression, intrinsic to identity construction, but your images are also quite affirmative. What is your artistic manifesto in this case?
MZ: You suggest that I bring ideas of non-oppressive relations but I am oppressive in my works. You are right – this domination is characteristic for my earlier projects. I used graphic symbols to communicate ideas straight. Now it is open for interpretations, graphic is just the start of the discussion. I understood that I do not have right to give suggestions.
ML: You have created two new pieces for this exhibition at PAC, one of which is a mural with a long and beautiful title (“The Woman Comes In, She Sits Down On A Chair And Takes Another Chair On Her Knees. The Woman Comes In, She Sits Down On A Chair, Another Chair Comes In And It Sits Down On Her Head”). This title suggests that we are looking at a woman in the image, while the figure is quite androgyny. Is it a deliberate decision to have a gender specification in words, but not in the image?
MZ: I did it automatically, nice that you noticed it.
ML: That’s interesting! And is in a way an important statement of yours – when you stop noticing identities’ markers, a different kind of relationship becomes possible. Now I need to ask about the other work – “A Man with Two Seesaws”. You have a really special combination of elements in it – first, there are seesaws, which are very playful, and then – a dissected human body. Limbs are balancing on the seesaws, suggesting a feeling of latent danger and tension... Why did you make it so aggressive, so scary even?
MZ: The combination is scary only from the human perspective. I created a new extended body. All parts of the sculpture, both of living and non-living origin, are made of the same material to underline the idea of inter-relation. It’s a very optimistic message. I am interested in the fluidity in nature, past of the materia and its ethical consequences. I believe that a human, who encounters an object – a composite of strange, unknown and eternal matter – should identify with it in a natural way. Objects are active arrangements, stimulating and oppressing, they force one to establish a relation to them. I think that the memory of matter obliges us to be responsible for the things we own. Also it is possible that creating new objects can be dangerous due to the risk of interacting with the remaining matter. Forming matter into objects, causes a partial purification from its previous states, by assigning new meanings.
ML: documenta13 is dealing with similar ideas – for instance, its curator Karolyn Kristov-Bakargiev suggests that an exhibition tour by another species, like dogs, can be of the same productive potential as the one by a professional human guide. This is read by many visitors as a curatorial eccentricity, done for the sake of promotion. While you are trying to create new relationships between human, natural world and object hood in your art, how does that transcend into life?
MZ: I stand on the grounds of “Natural collectivity”, which is the effect of the continuity of the same matter. I understand “natural collectivity”, which is divided into living and nonliving matter, as a symbiosis on a interpersonal level as well as that between nature and civilization. Of course, the classification of matter is relative, its status changes over time. Beyond that, the degree of knowing the difference is incomplete due to the imperfection of human cognition apparatus. The form and processes in nature are fluid and autonomy is just an illusion. The responsibility resulting from understanding this interdependence results in a conscious creation of the surrounding. Understanding is of prime value. I believe in intuitive message that creates an alternative form of communication.
ML: When one touches the questions of identity, it’s difficult to avoid interpretation through the discourse of nationality. So, I feel obliged to ask whether your work can be read through a specific Polish context? How would you address the question of Polish identity?
MZ: Of course I was brought up in this particular society but in my work I try to communicate universal.


Interview with Monika Zawadzki by Maria Lanko (2), August 2012


2. Art manager, critic, researcher. Participant of program “Curatorial Platform at PinchukArtCentre (2012-2013), guest editor at Korydor. in.ua, lecturer at Cultural Project. Graduated from Kyiv National University with a MA in Philology. Since 2005 has coordinated exhibition and educational programs at major Ukrainian art institutions, including Karas Gallery, EIDOS Arts Development Foundation and Ya Gallery art centre. 2009 participated in Internship program at Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, 2011 – in curatorial course at Node Centre Berlin. Writes reviews and essays for Korydor.in.ua, Kyiv Post and Gallery Magazine.