Karina Marusińska is an interdisciplinary artist, lecturer and socio-cultural animator based in Wrocław, Poland, who conducted a series of art workshops with West Bromwich’s migrant communities during a 3 week residency in July. She talks to Bettina Fischer about her ideas and the outcomes of her project as well as the connected exhibition at Centrala.
For your residency project you decided to offer workshops working with glass art. What was your motivation for engaging with people in this way?
I am not a stranger to advanced techniques or professional workshops of that kind. In my public projects, I combine these two techniques. On the one hand, we use materials which are present in people’s everyday life, although as readymade products only. There is no opportunity to experience them in the creation process. On the other hand, we have to adjust the level of technique to their ability in order to experience some freedom so they can get the work done by themselves or with a little of my help. I believe that when people eventually see the spectacular effects of their work, they begin to appreciate their potential in other spheres of life as well and to see their worth.
You focused your project on dreams. Can you tell me more about their role?
It has been said that any real change in the world is first a ‘revolution in the direction of the images that govern us.’ And that is why ‘only by changing the perception, a man changes his existence’. In today’s world, people run blindly. They do not dream because they believe that some things are beyond their reach. Fortunately, dreams are for everybody. My workshops have been a turning point when family members learned about each other’s needs. In many cases, it was a big surprise for them. People have discovered what they want … because they have spent a moment thinking about it. Painting on the glass released their ‘inner child’, for which imagination knows no boundaries. Art is the sphere of life where everything is possible. I am happy to use this fact. During the exhibition, their dreams will see the light of day. I think, when dreaming out loud, the chances are that the world will be favoured for their fulfillment. It sounds naive but I proved it many times on myself.
What’s the meaning of the title of your project, ‘Good Visibility’?
‘Good Visibility’ is to see reality as it comes, and simultaneously to see the potential of change for the better. It also represents people’s dreams ‘spoken aloud’ and visible to others during the exhibition. It also acts as a positive point of view on the migrant community in the UK. ‘Good Visibility’ also applies to me. As a workshop leader, I try to discern and reinforce the resources inherent in each participant. First and foremost, however, I aim to make them self-aware and use their potential.
With this in mind, how was the response to the workshop? Can you share some of the feedback you got from participants?
Some people came to the workshop with great enthusiasm, others were very shy, so I had to encourage them to take part. They were afraid to start but once the shapes began to appear, they could not stop themselves. Some have discovered in themselves or in their children a creative potential. For others, it was a time to distance themselves from their everyday problems. But for most, my workshop became an opportunity to meet people. People of all ages, views and different backgrounds met. All these differences did not matter there. I also noticed that most people have had some difficulty finding themselves in a situation of absolute freedom.
Tell me more about the exhibition at Centrala.
The show at Centrala contained two parts. The first part is the installation of work outcomes of ‘Good Visibility’ workshop participants, along with the documentation. The second part is an artistic interruption titled ‘Viewpoint’, which will take place outside right next to Centrala Gallery. These two elements of the exhibition are different in design but both are based on the theme of the ‘filters’ imposed on our reality. Both projects utilise image manipulation strategies but they differ in motivation. I wanted to point out that we have an impact on the reality that surrounds us, even by trying to visualise and realise our dreams but above all through the active and reflective reception of the reality surrounding us.
Will you continue the project outside of Birmingham?
Yes, however certainly not in the same form. I always try to make my projects take into account the uniqueness of a place, time, cultural conditions, etc. I would like my project to be continued in the future and further developed by people who are living there because much effort is needed to engage the West Bromwich community in their creativity and self-expression.
What else are you working on?
Currently, I am in a 3-month artistic scholarship in Graz, in Austria. This time I will focus on activities in the public space. This is only the beginning, so I am not sure just yet what will happen next.
Marusińska’s show ‘What the eye doesn’t know’ was display at Centrala from 22 September 2017 until 4 November 2017. The exhibition will also be presented in Geppert’s Apartment, the Gallery of Contemporary Art, run by the project partner Art Transparent Foundation.