February 28, 2018 - Fondazione Furla - Paulina Olowska: Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers
February 28, 2018

Fondazione Furla

Paulina Olowska, After Zofia Stryjeńska, 2018. Collage. Courtesy of the artist.

Paulina Olowska
Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers
In the framework of Furla Series #01 - Time after Time, Space after Space
March 6, 2018

Museo del Novecento
Via Marconi 1

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Curated by Bruna Roccasalva and Vincenzo de Bellis


Museo del Novecento and Fondazione Furla present Paulina Olowska, who for the fourth event in Furla Series #01 - Time after Time, Space after Space will use the Sala Fontana as a stage for her performance Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers.

The multifaceted work of Paulina Olowska draws inspiration from modernist utopias and from American and Eastern European popular culture—particularly that of socialist Poland—to forge a dialogue with history, creating a web of cultural references that explore the notion of feminism and consumerism. Zooming in on figures from the past, the artist unearths small, often forgotten histories; her approach is never nostalgic, but rather guided by a desire to understand their intrinsic value from a contemporary as well as historical standpoint.

Drawing on the work of visionary artist Zofia Stryjeńska (1891–1976), Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers springs from Paulina Olowska’s ongoing interest in female figures from the past. A leading light of the Polish cultural scene in the interwar period, later consigned to oblivion by the communist regime, Zofia Stryjeńska created a multidisciplinary oeuvre influenced by her country’s rituals and folklore. Over the years, Olowska has based a number of works inspired by this artist, from her paintings for the 2008 Berlin Biennale to the performance she presented in New York at The Kitchen in 2017, Slavic Goddesses - A Wreath of Ceremonies, of which Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers is an outgrowth.

The same deities found in the New York performance are at the heart of Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers, in which six mannequins arranged in the center of the Sala Fontana wear costumes made by the artist herself, based on Stryjeńska’s series of paintings "Bożki słowiańskie" (Slavic Deities, 1918). These surreal garments, with their enormous headdresses and their decorations of peacock feathers and wheat stalks (selected for the Bessie Award for Costume Design in 2017), present fanciful figures from Slavic mythology and folklore: goddesses of mischief, prosperity, fate, spring, winter, and the skies, with “bodies of clay, hair of wheat or branches, thorns and thistle.” 

Viewers are guided through this ceremony by four “Ushers,” played by Dobrawa Borkala, Milovan Farronato, the composer Sergei Tcherepnin and the artist herself. These mysterious presences bring to life the Sala Fontana and the space overlooking it with live interventions, activating the scene in various ways and leading visitors through a magical, evocative experience.

Sound by Sergei Tcherepnin
Performing Dobrawa Borkala, Milovan Farronato, Paulina Olowska, Sergei Tcherepnin
Special thanks to Ushirka Cooperative and Rabcio Puppet Theater for their help with creating the costumes for the Ushers

Furla Series #01 - Time after Time, Space after Space is a performance-centered program focusing on five artists from different generations and backgrounds, to showcase a wide range of approaches to this form of expression. The series began in  2017 and, following the events dedicated to Simone Forti, Alexandra Bachzetsis, and Adelita Husni-Bey, will include one more event featuring Christian Marclay (April 14, 2018).

For more info:
press [​at​] fondazionefurla.org
T +39 02 72237 235

Fondazione Furla
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Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers
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