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ALICJA BIAŁA / PAJĄKI

Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art 
Centre for Creative Activities  in Ustka
/ ul. Zaruskiego 1a

Discipline / ceramics
Period of stay / March – April 2021
Project title / Pająki

Curator
Weronika Teplicka

opening

Witches’ Tower in Słupsk

8.04.2022 / 6 p.m.

exhibition

8.04 – 26.06.2022

The light sculptures “Pająki” were created during Alicja Biała’s artistic residency at the Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art in Słupsk. Inspired by folk art motifs, the artist created multi-element structures out of ceramic objects and copper constructions. Suspended from the ceiling, the sculptures emit light through modules covered with multi-coloured glazes, offering therapeutic power in times of crisis. The installation refers to the artist’s earlier works, but also to the history of the gallery’s building – the Witches’ Tower.

Alicja Biała created the sculptures inspired by the folk tradition of interior decoration, its rituals and magical practices cultivated to ensure happiness and prosperity. The decorative elements called spiders are hand-made with straw, yarn, tissue paper and other readily available materials, and their constructions are arranged in circles. Their form, reminiscent of court chandeliers, took the shape of spheres and crystals, constructed as if with a sense of the rules governing the universe. They resembled contemporary models of chemical structures, and were created purely on the basis of folk intuition.

Alicja Biała began building her sculptures by multiplying a few basic modules, while adhering to an elaborate system. The first elements had organic, rounded forms, as if leaving their surface to the influence of saturated colours of the glaze. The blurring of their contours contrasts with the observation of the female element in nature and the simultaneous desire to enclose them in the most abstract forms possible. The structures diverge in various directions, recalling the organic sculptures of Hans Arp or Constantin Brâncuși’s “Endless Column”.

The artist has intentionally used ceramics, a material which is hard and resistant to temperature, but at the same time fragile, and combined it with copper structures. Both materials are closely related to the earth. Combined with light and its soothing effect, they become a panacea in a post-pandemic world and times of ever-present crisis. Similarly, the penetrating, saturated colours not only affect the sense of sight, but seem to encourage the tactile reception of art. By creating a place of asylum, contemplation of art, rest and gaining strength, the artist wants to tell a story of hope.

While creating a series of collages “Polish Cut – Out” or sculptures “Totems” Alicja Biała has repeatedly referred to the motifs known from folk art and issues of collective work accompanying its creation. In addition to creating artefacts, the artist finds it equally important to build interpersonal ties and the need to remain in a community. Team activities are linked by the figure of a strong leader – an artist who combines art with work, and creation with production. Light sculptures embodying the entire spectrum of sensory experiences are presented on all of the floors of the Witches’ Tower – a building that has been transformed many times and has a problematic history. In the 17th century, it was used as a prison, and women suspected of witchcraft who were held there awaited sentencing. According to available archive sources, 18 women died there. Alicja Biała has placed 18 light sculptures in the current gallery space, and the light they produce is also a way of commemorating their herstories. /Weronika Teplicka/

Alicja Biała

is a visual artist working in various media and scales, from drawings to 500-meter surfaces. She is the author of a series of collages about Poland “Polish Cut – Out”, and an installation on climate change entitled “Totems”. One of her latest projects is a light sculpture “Pająki” which she created from ceramics and copper during her artistic residency at the Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art in Słupsk. The project which aspires to be an anti-depressive remedy has been inspired by folk “spiders”, also known as “chandeliers”. She is currently studying at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Drawing School in London completing her MA.