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GOSIA WLODARCZAK (the 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art) Russell Storer

Gosia Wlodarczak’s drawings trace a performing body. They are not just evidence of the movement of the artist’s hand, but also of the complex relationships between her physical senses and systems and her environment. Wlodarczak’s distinctive line—jittery yet sure, continuously linking fragments of objects, people and texts—spreads outward across the surfaces of things, be it paper, fabric or glass. Its intricate networks envelop us with information about the specific time and place that she occupied: the people she met, how she was feeling, the temperature of the room, what caught her eye.

The glass rotunda at one end of the Manege building is the site for the latest, and largest, of Wlodarczak’s signature ‘frost drawings’. This series of drawings on glass recall the icy windows she remembers from winters in Poland, and will be instantly familiar to audiences in Moscow. In its previous iterations in the sunny climates of Australia and Singapore, the drawings suggested parallel, otherworldly experience (Wlodarczak has described the drawings as a ‘membrane’ between one state of being and another) at the same time as registering and interacting with the present; here in Russia they seem much closer to home.

Growing up in Poland in the 1960s and 1970s, and learning Russian at school, Wlodarczak lived in the shadow of the Soviet Union. This work marks her first visit to Russia, to encounter the country that has had such enormous political and cultural impacts on her life. How these external forces became embedded within her, and how they might reveal themselves via her constantly restless hand and eye, are a crucial aspect of this work, and one that she could only realise through the process of drawing. For it is with drawing, that form of communication that reaches beyond language, that Gosia is able to understand and express her surroundings, her history, and her sense of place.

Brisbane, April 2013

Russell Storer is Head of Asian and Pacific Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

This essay first appeared in the catalogue for the 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art main exhibition "More Light" curated by Catherine De Zegher.