19 December 2019 > 24 January 2020 Kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "indian summer" by Lea Culetto & Nataša Skušek, on Thursday, 18th December, at 8pm, at the Alkatraz Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Ana Grobler and Sebastian Krawczyk.
The exhibition indian summer was conceived as a part of the newer Alkatraz Gallery's project entitled Mentorship+, the purpose of which is helping to establish connections between artists and enabling their continuous work over a longer period of time. This type of a collaboration is not mentorship per se, but effectively an inter-generational, non-hierarchical cooperation, some kind of a mutual mentorship, so to speak, where both artists can assume a role of a counsellor, a mentor, a (co-)curator and a creator in any given moment. Two people who occupy different positions inside the artistic system are in this project thus given the opportunity to stand on an equal footing and exchange visions, perspectives, experiences and artistic attitudes. Moreover, the aim of the project is to encourage inter-generational networking and cooperation as well as a creative exchange of ideas among individuals outside of the established channels. The exhibition is a visible and tangible result of the completed work and the establishment of a new platform for mutual learning and collaboration. The project asks many questions; it encourages the artists to tackle the issue of authorship, produce contents of common projects, and face challenges of collective work.
This time we invited the artists Lea Culetto and Nataša Skušek to accept the challenge. In the course of their collaboration, they decided to cooperate predominantly as exhibiting artists. Their exhibition is blurring the boundaries between solo and group exhibitions: the artists present themselves as both an artistic duo with individual works and with works that they created together. All of the artworks were being created thoughtfully in dialogue and were conceived especially for this exhibition. Since the authors had a considerate amount of time to complete the project, their mutual effort resulted in a well thought out installation, in which a clear line between the authors’ artistic expressions cannot be drawn.
Like in the artists’ previous works, the themes running through this exhibition are the fetishisation and objectification of women, and socially imposed general beliefs, wishes and ambitions in the context of patriarchy. The material basis of their installations are frequently textiles and embroidery, which are seen traditionally as products of female craft. The term ‘Indian summer’ is widely known to stand for a warm autumn or a year without extreme weather conditions, but it also signifies something else we are less familiar with – the time of female chores. The artists have appropriated and subverted the term in a similar way in which they appropriated their means of expression – kitsch –, which has become a regular feature in their art. With kitsch, they build parallel worlds: either by means of ethical fashion, which, as a new fashion brand named deflowered by Lea, 1 spiced up with humour, contradicts the accepted social roles and the covering of unaccepted female body parts, or with boutique handmade throw pillows Light Blue and Pink, 2 situated in a coffee shop, with embroidered and printed statements that mock the division of sexual roles in patriarchy.
In their practice of building better, feminist worlds so far, the authors also turned to interior design. Aiming to remove taboos around a paradoxically mystified female daily routine, and by alluding to the still relevant work of Virginia Wolf, A Room of One's Own, in her work entitled A Room of Her Own, 3 Lea Culetto designed the interior of a hotel room, scattered with embroidered objects in the shape of tampons, hygienic pads, vibrators, and panties. Similarly, in her recent exhibition entitled A Bed in Krško Gallery, Nataša Skušek decorated the gallery with objects and smells. In the middle of the gallery, she placed a bed, the linen of which was embroidered with her short stories. The latter speaks about relationships in contemporary society, ‘about bodies, offering themselves as objects at every step, and about alienation and individualism.’ 4 Furthermore, the authors also share the thematisation of food and eating in their artworks and exhibitions. Exhibition openings presenting better worlds thus do not lack meaningful sweet delights as their inseparable and important ingredients. The exhibition A Real Man 5 for instance included meringues – a playful hint at something as ordinary as flatulence or, perhaps, a special opinion on contemporariness.
For the New Year’s exhibition, the authors use anything shiny, sparkly, and attractive. Their visions of feminism are communicated through the motif of the sea (atypical for this time of the year). The exhibition opening will be a party with a twist – a skilfully made shell chandelier reflecting the artists’ video light will replace the mirror ball. The viewers shall dance in the rhythm of waves and have an opportunity to acquire an artistic artefact – a New Year’s surprise from the vending machine adapted for the purposes of this exhibition. The festive season with all its sparkle is especially appropriate for the artists' statements. In this exhibition, they blur the boundaries between decoration and art, and between artistic and profane. Established normative categories are loosened not only with the abundance of glitter but also by praising skin stripes, stretch marks, which become sea weaves for embroidered images of dolphins. This original hailing of reality and inevitability of the physical (ageing), manifested as playfulness, is an indicator of their subversive standpoint, additionally emphasized with the title of the exhibition that is not capitalized. They criticise patriarchal brutal attitude towards female and non-normative bodies with playful ingenuity. Meanwhile, they prove the fact that one can have fun while criticising the society (especially before the New Year), as long as one builds one’s own space of reality as a part of the critique. These new spaces are changing meanings imposed by the misogynist order (a red pulsating light in front of our eyes) into a new whole, which is connecting and liberating us.