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Goshka Macuga: Exhibit, A

Goshka Macuga: Exhibit, A video still

This exhibition is the first survey of work by Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga. Macuga’s work interweaves two strands that have helped define contemporary art in the last decade: artists’ increasing tendency toward historical and archival research and their growing interest in strategies of display and the dialogue between artistic and curatorial practice. Many of Macuga’s large-scale, research-intensive projects have been collaborative, with the resulting installations often incorporating the work of other artists. Initially, many of her projects tapped into overlooked traditions in art history, but in more recent years her work has taken a political turn, frequently featuring post-Soviet Poland or the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a backdrop. The exhibition features a selection of works that vary in size, content, and context, emphasizing the medium of collage, both two- and three-dimensional.

I have never called myself a curator; I have never called myself an arch – whatever that term was – cultural archeologist; I have never called myself a historian. These are all terms that have been attached to my name and my practice by either art critics, curators, and various people who try to categorize how I work.

I think that I am just an artist who works with various medias and has quite broad range of interests. I think that from the beginning, I haven’t really been interested in committing to a brand, which would somehow specify my work or would describe or, in a way, give an indication of what the whole work will be or can be. So I think that I have been quite sincere to a method but I have not been sincere to a medium. And I think that this was something that I was principally interested from the beginning and it gave me a great freedom to do various things that I probably would have not been able to do if I set myself to do something very particular. And I think that the way how I work is suppose to be almost like a lifestyle. So you kind of want to have possibilities to be open to many different avenues and that’s why these categorizations always have the potential of limiting of what I do and whom I am, in a way, but through the work and through the experience of these different activities or different histories that I, in a way, take on. I obviously keep reidentifying myself and projecting myself into different situations.

Well I think that we all probably are quite influenced by where we were brought up or where we have been educated. I think that of course specifically Poland probably have influenced my approach to history and of course that has to do with the history that was very much available to us during the Communist time and the education that we had in Poland, and I guess it has given me the freedom to work with history in a much more fluid way, when you think that you can actually alter or reinterpret it and it’s not something that you respond to as truth, but it’s something that can manipulated or reinterpreted. It’s something that it’s not completely rigid; it’s something that can be considered fluid. So I think that perhaps that has got something to do – but then, of course, in the way that maybe how I work, that might also have something to do with being brought up in a very particular context where, I guess, we had more access to information, we had more access to things. So being able now to have access to information and to things—to objects of my desire, or one’s desire—I try to exploit it as much as possible.