exhibition essay by Elisa Guttiérez Eriksen for Stand4 Gallery
...Standards of living
They are rising daily
But home oh sweet home
It’s only a saying…
Oh Those Heartaches
Roxy Music, In Every Dream Home a Heartache, 1973(1)
In Every Dream Home a Heartache is a visual, physical and poetical exercise in which Magdalena Dukiewicz revisits particular objects and memories from her childhood in Poland to explore an idea of “home” that has been inoculated in her mind from an early age.
For Dukiewicz, the thought of a home brings a cumulus of anxieties related to social expectations, which calls into question the preconceived ideas of how things are supposed to be in life: motherhood, marriage, work, living in a place other than your birthplace, fulfilling certain obligations.
A Roxy Music song(1), a small play house that she had as a kid, and a few other meaningful objects become the sources for her analysis. In these reconstructed objects lies a complex and multilayered notion referring to the concept of “a dream home,” edified mainly by society and religion and reinforced by family.
Dukiewicz carefully dissects all these notions and feelings, and stitches them together to rebuild the idea of a home in a material and conceptual way. The house in the exhibition is made out of a bio textile cover fabricated with hydrolyzed collagen and vegetable glycerin, natural pigments, blood, thread, and poles. Thus, the hardiness of the material opposes the fragility of the house's appearance –its geometrical topology withstands the breath that exudes from its organic pores; the lightness of its structure counteracts the heaviness of the charged notions that it holds.
But unlike the dark lyrics and music of Roxy Music ́s song, this house has a light inside: a tenuous yellow light that reacts to human proximity, accentuating the material’s similarity to human skin –that connecting organ between the inside and the outside world. The light coming from the interior makes us think that this is an inhabited space. An intimate space by size and shape, it is not a dream home anymore, it becomes a refuge.
While remaking her childhood playhouse, Dukiewicz is rethinking it, redesigning and assembling the pieces, letting the materials and ideas crystalize in this installation that, paradoxically, remains in constant change and ultimately won't last for long. The materials used by Dukiewicz are ephemeral. The house will transform, eventually collapse, disintegrate and disappear.
In the corridor of the gallery, an installation on the wall made out of empty gelatin capsules glued together in organic, amorphous shapes, titled Singular Plural references a concept by the author Jean Luc Nancy in which “existence is essentially (and always) co-existence”.
Utilizing this piece and Nancy’s ideas about existence, Dukiewicz presents two more works that are in part created from ready made and found objects and in part from hydrolyzed collagen and glycerin, in some cases mixed with her own blood which she has patiently and meticulously collected for several days. The act of collecting blood and integrating her DNA in her work appeals directly to ideas of impermanence and fragmentation, and serves as a way to become other things; to dissolve in them.
The series of temporary rituals that Dukiewicz has performed for the creation of this exhibition has led her to reaffirm her choices in life on a daily basis and find alternative ways to leave an imprint in the world. The act of sewing and gluing, pieces and ideas, from the inside out, from the most intimate space, from childhood, from her body, allows her, now, to put things in perspective.
“To inhabit oneirically the house we were born in means more than to inhabit it in memory; it means living in this house that is gone, the way we used to dream in it.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space