nomorepotlucks: Blood Work: Magdalena Olszanowski – Marlaina Read

June 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

I first encountered Magda’s work in 1996, when, as young women, we experimented with self-imaging practices and maintained popular websites – before the internet boom in which social networking and blogging platforms emerged. We both went on to develop our artistic and academic practices in the context of the institutionalized art world, but have continued to share and collaborate. Her ongoing series of work that started in 2005 depicts menstruation. It draws on ideas of transgression, the abject, and boundaries, and it displays a playfulness often missing from discourse around the female body.

Olszanowski’s work was initially a response to the Cartesian history of prioritizing the disembodied self and the established scientific discourse based on intellectual detachment, rationality, and objectivity – leaving the state of corporeality and the body as irrational, uncontrolled, and menstruating. In this misogynist discourse, much extended by Freud, corporeality belongs to the feminine, producing the woman as dangerous and fleshy. Like much feminist work, such as Valerie Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto, Magda’s work welcomes the dangerous and fleshy self. We shared a lengthy conversation across many time zones focused on her history with menstruation, her work, and the importance of leading an embodied practice.

Read more at nomorepotlucks

Blood Work: Magdalena Olszanowski

Blood Work: Magdalena Olszanowski


A thought on (in)visibility

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

What good does it do to be invisible? What is worthwhile about the pursuit of invisibility, in this my body, a vessel for so much reflected disappointment and unattainable legitimate existence? What good is it to be visible.

Every inch of the space I inhabit gives way to expectations of what I must do, or ought to do, as a visible object. And what can I do to control myself as this object and image both desired and desiring of acknowledgement and refusal?

Don’t think about it before you are there

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

In the bathroom, rose petals spilled from the sink and toilet and bathtub, the window boarded up. The smell from the roses.

Earlier that day I had found a goose skull, fragile and white, but I left it there, beside the dried out marsh, or some sort of land the tide no longer covered.

I wanted you there. Here. Wanted to push you inside the bathroom of that abandoned house. Close the door on you. Tell you to rub yourself with the flowers until you were clean.

I am aching all over, wrist, ankle, back—all swollen. The wrist and ankle you can grasp and squeeze, but the back is harder. I think about that white skull, my own bones.

Thoughts all of hesitation.

Nothing really had changed since yesterday.

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yet the sensation persisted. All through the middle she felt a certain heavy warmth then cold. Like a brick had been thrust inside her chest, hot and wet before seeping into her cavities.

She put a hand against her breastbone, considered calling a doctor. Certainly nobody in her house was equipped to diagnose the problem.

She looked out her studio window, which faced the apartment in the adjacent building. Through the half-drawn shades she could see the torso of the man who lived there. He was preparing dinner.

Warm then cold it persisted. Clutching her belly she continued to stare at the man in the other building. He wore a blue singlet and black pants.

She realised at this moment she had never seen his face and this thought made everything expand, just for a second. Everything right through to the tips of her fingers.

She didn’t feel happy or sad.

Talk to me about caves

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Hertzog. WOW. I started to tear up. I got so many rushes to the words of Anne Carson and Henri Bergson, Maybe also Jean Luc Nancy. The space between things, the inevitability of propelling yourself toward a surface. Traces. Monsters, the driving arrow, forging rivers. The eyes staring back. And the sounds buried within pictures. Always the sounds.

“Let us imagine the unimaginable, the gesture of the first imager. He proceeds neither at random nor according to a project. His hand advances into a void, hollowed out at that very instant, which separates him from himself instead of prolonging his being in his act.But this separation is the act of being. Here he is outside of self even before having been his own self, before having been a self. In truth, this hand that advances opens by itself this void, which it does not fill. It opens the gaping hole of a presence that has just absented itself by advancing its hand.” -Jean Luc Nancy, Painting the Grotto, pg 75

Here I think of Bergson, describing the body at the edge of motion, “the body as an ever advancing boundary between the future and the past, as a pointed end, which our past is continually driving forward into our future.” – Henri Bergson Matter and Memory, pg 78

“A man moves through time. It means nothing except that, like a harpoon, once thrown he will arrive.” – Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse

Inevitability, estrangement. The distance between you and other things. The impenetrable distance, even as close as you can get you can never, truly touch something else, only hover or rest against in millions of a millimetre thicknesses. the space between you and me, between me and a mountain, between the past and my own self; already advancing.

“Time isn’t made of anything. It is an abstraction. Just a meaning that we impose upon motion.”

“Meanwhile music pounded / across hearts opening every valve to the desperate drama of being / a self in a song.” – Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse

Fears are often very ordinary.

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

And then she starts to cry and she cannot stop so they beat her and she is crying and it is loud and she won’t stop and that’s why they beat her. She keeps to herself mostly and she is named for her favorite song as she cannot remember her own name. She cries on the floor and stairs while they beat her with sticks. Later she looses the paint from her pocket and they laugh and lie to her. She looks like a boy it is safer that way. Stand over there. No, over there. Don’t disturb the people.

I don’t want to know what you did, I want to know how what you did made you feel

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have doubts. Lots of them. I often want to retreat into moments of stillness remembered. I feel like I have subtly erased myself from the memories of people, my friends. I often think about dying. All the things I would no longer have to do or be responsible for. Not another morning waking up and feeling hollowed out and strange. noel kept asking me why I don’t take photographs of people anymore. And thats true. Except for lovers, I take photographs of them. I don’t really ever look at them, I just like knowing they are there. Mostly taken in times of silence and muted cooperation.

I remember walking around Toronto Island in twilight, following a group of peacocks. I wanted one of them to drop a feather. I watched their bodies and necks and tails. I didn’t realise that these birds have more than just blue feathers on their body and the tail feathers. They have red and iridescent and this strange spotted cream and brown. of course birds don’t just ‘drop’ feathers, so I wandered around a few of the spaces they seemed to hang around, or at least trying to find a nesting point. I found some feathers which I kept in my portable darkroom bag. I intended to do something with them, in the end I took them to another area and buried them, because, at the time, I felt I didn’t want them to blow away into the water.

I don’t think I am beautiful. I try to compensate by being interesting and interested in others.

I want to hear some new sounds. I want someone to lie with me in the morning and talk about what we are thinking. I want to be able to have someone see the same colours in the leaves of a tree shifting just a little as the sun is setting or rising.

I hear in Iceland, when I hope to be there, that the dawn and dusk are drawn out and the sky, land and ocean look very different. I feel that could be a defining moment for me. after making my portable labyrinth. Maybe before making my tethered boat.

Goddamn it.

You can email me your thoughts you have upon waking or just before you fall asleep, what makes you happy, a tree you remember from childhood, the sound your lover makes or how they make you feel or fail to make you feel. Anything at all, worthwhile and which you usually keep to yourself.

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