My name is Lujzaa Magová, I come from Košice and I like to bring new pieces of visual reality into our surroundings.
I started to study sculpture and stone carving in 1999, first at the School of Applied Arts in my hometown Košice, Slovakia and then in School of Sculpture and Stone Carving in Horice, Czech republic. I finished this one in 2004, and continued at the Faculty of Arts at the Technical University of Košice. I spent all six years of my university studies with Juraj Bartusz in his Studio of Free Creativity 3D at the Department of Fine Arts and Intermedia, with the exception of winter semester 2006/2007 Erasmus Scholarship in Josef Petruk´s studio of figural sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland, summer semester 2008/2009 in Marta Jonville´s Open Studio of Performance in Public Spaces at the Faculty of Arts in Košice, and winter semester 2009/2010 at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bordeux France.
Since September 2011 I am a doctorate candidate at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Univesidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain. Director of my thesis is Elías Peréz and its theme is The Body as the Source, the Reference and the Subject of the Visual Art, focusing mainly on the abuse of art by totalitarian regimes, a familiar subject for me, as I personally have witnessed it growing up in communist country until the age of 7. I am investigating the ways in which figural art impacts us directly, via mirror neurons that copy perceived emotions in our bodies, rather then just provoking new thought patterns, which is of course not less important.
I feel it is important for me to place art in public spaces rather than galleries, where impact of art is a priori expected element of the experience, and can not work properly with the society. Also I think, that even though the flat surface of the wall is inherent defining element of the streetart, it would be nice to see more 3D art on the street. This is where I see space for my little addition to enriching daily life of people, thus potentially helping to make the whole society happier and more consciouss, to provide a better, more pleasant world for us all to live in. However cheesy this may sound, without this feeling I would probably not be able to create art at all.
I am fascinated by the corporeal perceptive ability, and the possibilities of sharing mental contents based on these percepts, the communication between individuals, like it happens via art or language. I see it as something awesome that we are able to share these contents to such level that emergence of communities of individuals with great extent of mutual understanding, and shared appriciation of the reality is possible. This corporeal reality is the conceptual basis of my work, along with notions of consciousness, identity, social arrangements, privacy of space etc. Formally my work are genarally either installations with lifesize figural sculptures, or simple interventions in the public space, always using the most ephemeral materials.
To see humility, love and awareness among people gives me hope we are not completely doomed as a society, in spite of the attachement to simulacres, unreal and unimportant things so obviously ubiquitous in the world. I like to see my art as a factor boosting positive emotions and thoughts in people. I love to see a smile on a person´s face after seeing my piece.
An adventure such as a long train ride, where a person is exposed to a variety of new, often unexpected, percepts, has a potential to educate, enrich and sooth, by providing the contact with the unknown. It can expand our comfort zone- and so can a piece of visual art or a book, taking our mind on a journey, in a similar way as a physical vehicle takes our body.
As a basis for my proposal for this summer workshop I took a parallel between the actual geographical journey we are going to take and four essays, exercises in political thought, by Hannah Arendt, from her 1961 book Between past and future. So as we travel through these four post-communist countries, at the same time we will move temporally, exploring four important aspects of their shared recent history. It seemed accurate to look for the conceptual analogy between my intended works and Arendt’s writing as both deal with the same subjects and are induced by similar experiences.
1st stop: Bucharest, Romania
Essay: What is authority?
In this essay Arendt asks a question: How to deal with the totalitarian power and violence, when the authority, which works only without violence and assumes freedom, has disappeared from the modern world. She puts the totalitarian government in opposition to the authoritarian form of government as well as to the tyranny, suggesting that authority, which began to fulfill the same function as violence, forcing people to obey, has become violence: Everyone who calls modern dictatorships authoritative, or mistakenly regards totalitarianism as an authoritative structure, have implicitly equated the violence and the authority. These views are blurring the boundaries that separate totalitarianism from the other forms of government and bring controversial bases to the political thinking. The elimination of the only political element of traditional religion, fear of hell, as a consequence of Modern age secularization, have resulted in an unprecedented criminality bursting into politics under Hitler and Stalin.
The form of this work will be a performance: sitting on a tiny child’s chair next to the representative communist monument. The intention is to display single human individuals relative to monstrous structures they have constructed over time and the nausea evoked by the impossibility of proper creative conviviality among these structures. To show the society, purpose of which was to serve and protect human individual, to provide him freedom from life’s disquietudes, but which have eventually enslaved him. An arrangement that was supposed to be here for people, but turned against them, overgrowing them to the measures they can never reach. Another object relating to this natural human body is a baby chair representing suppressed spontaneity. According to Hannah Arendt, that the goal of totalitarianism was total domination, which can be achieved by eliminating spontaneity and thus destroying man as a moral agent and as an individual.
2nd stop: Budapest, Hungary
Essay: What is freedom?
Form: Public petition
Arendt distinguishes traditional philosophical, inner freedom, from the political freedom, which has a public space, common to all people, secured by political institutions:
The very assumption that the shelter of freedom should be the capacity of will, that substantial activity of which consists of dictation and command, must be really strange. However if we talk about the problematic of freedom we need to keep in mind the question of politics and the fact that a man is a being given the ability to act. Philosophical freedom does not require more freedom than the exercise of will, it does not depend on external circumstances or on the fact whether the set objectives were achieved. Political freedom on the contrary rests on the actual ability of a person to do what he should want to do- acting person is not free if he loses the ability to act.
The justification for the existence of politics is freedom, and its field of experience is action.
Even thought the concept of the inner, non-political, freedom has strong influence in the tradition of thought, we could assume that one would not be aware of the inner freedom without getting to know freedom as secular, tangible experience beforehand. We first become aware of freedom, and of its opposite, interacting with other people, not inside ourselves.
Freedom is preceded by the liberation from the necessities of life; however the state of freedom does not automatically result from this act of liberation. Freedom also requires the company of other people who are in the same state- it needs a common public space, where free people could meet and interact. It needs politically formed world into which each one of the free people can be incorporated by his word and deed. Without politically guaranteed public area freedom ceases to have a place in the world where it could show itself.
In despotically ruled societies that banish their lieges into the constraint of their homes and prevents the formation of the public sphere, freedom is not the part of the secular reality.
Hungarian uprising of 1956 gave Arendt hope in mankind’s will to fight for their own freedom. This (contra) revolution (as referred to by Soviets), failed, mainly for the lack of promised support from the ¨western world¨. However the very ambition to defend ones liberty manifests mans right to be free. In Arendt’s words: Courage liberates men from their worry about life for the freedom of the world. It is indispensable because in politics not life but the world is at stakes.
Even though the revolution was unsuccessful and Hungarian nation had to struggle under communist normalization for decades, the same year the uprising took place Hungarian water polo team defeated USSR 4:0 during summer Olympic Games. This event is referred to as Blood in the water.
Symbols played a strong role in Hungarian revolution- the red soviet star being cut from national flags, 25 meters tall Stalin’s statue was removed from Heroes square in Budapest by people, and so on. I see water and its flow analogous to freedom that is innate to each life form, making it fitting symbol of freedom in this piece, as well as the lost blood game/ won water game events symbolism of 1956. Inspired by popular online petitions, this piece will take form of a request for change- petition, inscribed in the medium of water. Quite recent (pseudo) science experiments, like that of Masaru Emoto, suggest tah human consciousness has power to change molecular structure of water. We will focus our minds on water, which will eventually become part of the bodies of people, thus intending to change their approach to life. We will try to raise the awareness of future generations of people, encouraging them to act more responsibly and authentically, believing that the will, manifested, already becomes the reality.
3rd stop: Košice, Slovakia
Essay: Crisis of education
Form: Lecture + art tour
In this essay, Hannah Arendt discusses modern education after the loss of authority that is closely related to the loss of tradition. Authority was rejected by adults who refuse to take over the responsibility for the world into which they have brought their children.
It is constitutional for the human condition that every new generation grows into the old world, so preparing new generation for the new world would only mean stealing the chance of the new ones to create something new themselves.
The faith that the one who wants to bring about new condition has to start with children is a doubtful notion of tyrannizing revolutionary movements that indoctrinated children when they gained the power.
Disapproving of Rousseau ist ideal in which education becomes the tool of politics, and the political activity itself is understood as a form of education, Arendt suggests that education cannot play a role in politics, as in politics we are always dealing with the ones that are already educated. Whoever wants to educate adults has to become their custodian and ban them of political activity.
In the education of a child there is joint responsibility for the life and development of the child, as well as for the continuity of the world. Arendt see a dichotomy in this responsibility, as a child needs the protection from the world, but so does the world need protection, not to be destroyed by the assault of the new ones that comes with each new generation.
Arendt suggests an implicit responsibility of anybody who educates the youth, for the world. Anyone who refuses this responsibility for the world, even though he did not create it, should not have the right to participate in the education at all.
In education this responsibility for the world has a form of authority. In totalitarian communist regime, the violence that has substituted the authority is also present in art. Official, ideologically oriented, art was Socialist realism, also referred to as Sorela. The purpose of sorela was to further pursue the aims of communism, glorifying the regime and its working class, often in a form of monstrous figures, depicting the reality as the regime wished it would look.
In the situation where socialist realism was dominating the artistic production, interesting events took place in Kosice. A series of workshops was organized between 1967 and 1973 by artist Juraj Bartusz, in cooperation with local steelworks company. A number of high quality public art pieces made of steel were produced by national as well as international artists. International participation along with the minimalist form of these sculptures are a rarity in communist Czechoslovakia, however, very little was written about them. This piece is going to have a form of an event: a lecture and the art tour, where I will present some of the pieces made during the workshops that still exist, as well as ones that were removed, either during the communism or after its fall.
4th stop: Warsaw, Poland
Essay: Crisis of culture
Form: Street art
Crisis of culture deals with the shift in cultural production and consumption that took place with the appearance of the mass society, after the whole mass of citizens was integrated into the society, and the relationship between the mass culture and the mass society in a situation when culture is available to the whole population. All the escape routes were closed and the impossibility to flee the society brings despair. It seems artist remains the last individual in the mass society, and it is this creator of eminently cultural objects that turns against the society- what actually gave rise to the entire progress of the modern art, the greatest achievement of our times, along with the advances in science. Artist, the producer of cultural objects that are persistent testimony of the soul of its civilization. For Arendt this demonstrates the antagonism that preceded the formation of the mass society.
The only extra-societal criteria for assessing cultural objects, these tangible evidences into which the history of mankind is inscribed, is their relative permanence and stability. The permanence of cultural objects happens as a result of their lack of functionality- which makes other objects disappear from the phenomenal world as they are being used.
Once the immortal works of art of the past become objects of social and individual refinement and associated status, they lose their essential value, the ability to seize the perceiver and lead him through the centuries.
If the work of art is used with an ambition of self-improvement and self-education, it is being abused, just as if it would be used for any other purpose.
Arendt suggests that the disintegration that have entered the European culture, before the commencement of modern art, made it a social merchandise. Culture became a value, a subject of commerce and have lost its ability to seize the attention, and set a mind in motion, in the trading process, which have lead to devaluation and consequently to the total sale of cultural, as well as moral values.
This piece will take a form of street art- ephemeral interventions in the public space. Art pieces whose only value lies in the moments of unexpected perceptual experience, which they allow passers by without any extra, ones that lack any extra-social value which would let them be appreciated and traded like a merchandise.
Thanks to perception, moments are being created in persons mind. Upon entering the reality, perceived moments become its part.
If we let our minds wonder in the realm of magical thinking, the law of contiagion would make us assume that reality once perceived by a person becomes an inseparable part of this person. The percept becomes a part of the sensorially gathered data equipage of this person’s consciousness, and can be freely used, and even mediated to other people via communication, like for example through another art piece.
If we take this assumption even further, we may as well hypothesize that the fact that this man was once a part of the world implies he is forever part of this world, thus every percept, every moment, lasts forever.
This may be true or not, but it is the interpretation of the situation that has impact: things are real if their consequences are. Reality is formed by perception, it is not objective. Moments might be more prone to realness and permanence then tangible objects of the phenomenal world.
Art pieces are objects with no immediate practical value. Their common constitutional property is the ability to reflect reality. Art is a kind of a mirror reflecting the world that surrounds us, reflecting the reality we contain. Even though art reflects the present state of things, this reflected situation was not constructed by the present inhabitants of the woorld, it is a result of an ongoing process.
Whatsmore, art is a mirror that can be trespassed, like Alice´s looking glass, rather than the mirror we look into each morning, the one that makes us forget our dreams, see the same reality every day. It allows us see realities not yet materialized.
Now that we have reached a point where the unsustainability of the system we have created is clearly present and visible, art can provide us a factor to raise the awareness in this situation, help us realize that we are one of the elements on which this system stands and falls.
On top of this, art can soothe and make us feel better. Our bodies copy emotions we perceive on people we interact with, or images of people. The most pleasant emotions manifest themselves as a smile on a face. Even image of a smile in its simplest, stylized form is and archetype representing and producing happiness.
Socialna sonda plavec hardsubs – Beáta Kolbašovská & Lujza Magová
Beáta Kolbašovská & Lujza Magová asked to the inhabitants of Plavec to speak about their problems using past.