This project is a digital mixed-media approach using photography and drawings.
I like the idea that everything is surreal, that everything is possible. When I lie in the bath, I don't want to be bound by the laws of nature. I want to instantly be transported to another time and location, bathing in the water under the moon's light. Where would I go if I were not a prisoner of time and space?
In the outfit, I am not myself. I have no identity. I put on another skin. Thus, the work aims to achieve the impersonal.
The work focuses on the body, yet it is about escaping the boundaries placed upon us by the body. The imagery is not bound by any rules. There is no limitation.
The drawing I chose as the skin was all created by an outpouring of unconscious feeling. They are the skin. There is no face to read emotionally. The body itself will show the feeling. Anybody can be this person. It is an invitation to feel emotions beyond the need for an identity.
The imagery, the body, is not romanticized. It is real. It is not a glorification of form. It is a homage to the transcendent normal.
There is an aspect of camouflage in work. It explores the ability to become one with the space one occupies. Perhaps this is a longing born from the life of a person away from home, not in their comfortable surroundings. In a sense, it's about the ability not to stand out. To not be 'The Other.' When one is not at home, camouflage becomes attractive.
Text by Dr J.M
As meaningful as creating this collection has been, and as happy as she is with the final manifestation, this project actually started with a series of nightmares in 2019.
She processed these nightmares through a combination of journalling and the creation of these pieces. As with much of her work, she had only a tenuous conscious understanding of their significance at the time of their creation. More insight was to come later.
The piece shows a sleeper in almost a full fetal position. So long as she sleeps, she does not have to contend with the uncomfortable fact that she is contained within a small box. Something calls to her to awaken. It has no discernible identity of its own but wants her sleep to end.
Upon waking, we see the unmistakable desperation to escape the parameters of the limiting box. She, in her wakeful state, is more defined than before while the onlooker mirrors her form at all times.
Her desire has led to her successful escape. While she is lighter and certainly less distressed, we see her sitting listlessly in an environment of growing dimness.
Existence outside the box is free and with endless potential. But fear of the new can lead to an initial recoil and desire to regress to the safety of the known, if untenable. There is no going back, however. Once this journey is started, there is only one direction available – forwards.
Put another way: the only way is through. Through what exactly? Well, it’s hard to be precise when referring to the surreal. But perhaps one answer is – through the space of liminality. This is the space between the old and the new, the known and the yet-to-be-known. Navigating this space can feel like wading through a kaleidoscopic hallway that bridges parallel dimensions.
How long does one stay in the liminal space? How long is a piece of string? There are many forms to try on and different positions to evaluate. It’s not simply a matter of choosing arbitrarily and coming to terms with that choice. Rather, it’s about being open to trial and error until a choice eventually reveals itself as valid. At times it can seem confusing, but an emotional resonance will help separate the signal from the noise.
A times on this journey, despair can find us. But a guiding intelligence can help us. It can even impress upon our hearts and minds a symbol of love and protection.
She sees this collection as a representation of a transition she is still in the process of undertaking. Her earlier work referred much more heavily to her past and the forces that shaped her personally and culturally. This collection, however, is about the present and the future. It is about becoming.
I do not see this collection as a prelude, however. It’s not something that will be ‘completed’ once the space of liminality is left behind and a new form is identified. The real insight is something of a paradox. It’s that once we are ok in the space of liminality, once we learn to play there, we become empowered to make the right choice if and when we desire to.
Anneka French is an artist, writer, editor, and curator based near to Birmingham, UK.
Text forms the core of her artistic practice. Current work considers the vignette in terms of its connections to family, motherhood, and the post-industrial landscape.
Anneka's wider practice includes curatorial work and art journalism for publications such as Art Quarterly and Photomonitor. She currently holds the role of Curator at Coventry Biennial. Formerly, She was Editorial Manager at the contemporary art magazine this is tomorrow and Director at the regional visual arts network New Art West Midlands. She has worked on projects with Tate Modern, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon, Grain Projects, and Photoworks, among others.
Monika Sapielak is an award-winning Arts Manager, Curator, Producer, Lecturer and Mentor, with 25 years of work experience in the European Cultural Sector.
Co-founder and CEO of the Centre for Creative Practices (CFCP), she is a recipient of the Merit to Polish Culture, awarded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, as well as Main Awardee of the Arthur Guinness Fund.
Monika is dedicated to developing and delivering ambitious artistic programmes that are inclusive, socially engaged and supportive of the integration of migrants. She is also a strong advocate for the promotion of European values, as well as increasing the participation of disadvantaged members of society.