Here is how Magdalena Franczak explores the structure of a home. She seems to be re-creating its timeline, wherein vivid memories become intertwined with guesswork and fantasy. The home’s complex structure, converted into ascetic collages, resembles a map with a removed key. What we can see are only faded paper folds and creases, uneven strips, protruding rounded elements that have come unstuck from the surface and interlocking shapes.
According to Franczak, the map of an ideal home is certainly not some liveable-in convenience, but a thick, cozy nest, a soft body with sagging walls and narrow, velvety passages; a cluttered, messy space, which the artist slices across to make sections to reveal its various layers, patiently peeling away its outer skins as if it were an onion. She peels off the wallpapers and peeps under the carpets, looking out for dusty hiding places, reaching deposits rich in history, borrowings and lash-ups. She seeks an algorithm for this structure’s growth. Her collages attempt to catch the very moment when a piece of architecture becomes domesticated, appropriated, attuned to the bodies of its inhabitants.
Just like in her other works, Franczak combines memory, imagination and blind fate with the vigilant, analytical mind of an anthropologist. It is possible to hear distant echoes of rituals for space clearing, building and assuming responsibility for one’s home. The building becomes a continuation of one’s body, reflecting its experiences, and participating in the most important moments of one’s life. Franczak describes these rituals by means of geometrical paper cut-outs. She describes these forgotten rituals on a piece of paper from a yellowed notebook that she has found in an attic. In these hastily-made notes, she goes back to some old refrains, whose slightly deformed, altered forms keep repeating in her memory. In the past, before people settled in their new place, they let a bird or another animal stay there for the night, so that all the evil forces would settle in their bodies instead, and to protect the future inhabitants. When moving into her new home, a bride had to touch the stove. Before childbirth, cupboards and chests had to be left open. To protect it from evil forces, the building was perfumed with herbs. Sitting on the table was not allowed. During a thunderstorm, all windows had to be closed. When someone died in the family, mirrors would be covered, clocks would be stopped, and the whole house would become enveloped in silence. There were plenty of rules and regulations that governed the space, and they were best obeyed for peace of mind. To describe these rituals, Franczak uses elegant forms and abstract, balanced language, as if she were following a handbook on good manners. Her work abounds in a variety of gestures, which refer to securing, renewing, patching and marking things. As well as patience and accuracy, these activities require muscle work and sweat. Not all of the depicted instructions and rules can be easily deciphered. The luxury of domestication requires great effort.
Curator: Marta Lisok