Everything will come in handy
Gallery SIC BWA Wrocław / WROCLAW (Poland)
29.01.2021 – 10.04.2021

Kalina Bańka, an artist working in glass, took up the important and topical subject of emptiness as part of her PhD (2020). Or perhaps the absence of emptiness? Known for her expressive, multi-layered works overloaded with colour and a multitude of elements, she made a risky attempt to cleanse them of the excess. Trying to implement the minimalistic assumptions in her artistic strategy, she immediately understood the futility of her decision. According to Aristotle, achieving a vacuum is impossible as nature fundamentally opposes it – the unvanquished horror vacui. And that was how the artist’s temperament and psychological predisposition reacted: old habits die hard and tend to be compulsive, addictive, and all change is a process requiring time and determination.

Her attempt to reach the proverbial minimalism, and the ensuing failure, became Kalina’s natural impulse to carry out a deeper analysis and quest for answers to long-concealed questions. Difficult answers. Sometimes funny, sometimes scary… Full of family sentiments and tenderness… The unconventional figure of her beloved granny Antonina (known as Wanda) came to the fore, a person who has always been the artist’s inspiration. Her guide in the period of childhood and adolescence, she introduced Kalina to the world of nature and carelessness, balance and sense of here and now, so desirable and distant today. As a result, Wanda and her condition a priori stimulate an initiation, a very intuitive, often intemperate creative process, an attempt to restrain the accumulation of ideas, currently employed decision mechanisms and forms of expression. They have always been based on an organic, radical need to generate an immense – perhaps excessive – amount of what has been accumulated inside.

Umbrellas, quilts, old wallpaper, rugs, curtains, twine, lace, fabric, a plastic bottle containing something labelled “Shot”, chandeliers, computer casings, bags, poufs and tables beyond repair. And chairs, a bath tub, pillows, caps, wires, dolls, vases, lids, a Christmas tree, porcelain swans. And also scarves, devotional articles, spectacles, bracelets, odd mittens with holes, nails, pots, dried flowers, shelves, bookcases, postcards. And finally – leaflets, skates, a hula hoop, corsets, a ceramic fish, bowls, books, brochures, shoes, old mobile phones, rubber toys for dogs, TV sets – everything will come in handy.

Syllogomania, or compulsive hoarding, is a mental disorder resulting in obsessive accumulation of objects and inability to get rid of them. Sufferers gather large numbers of useless things, including rubbish, which in time begin to entrap them and their surroundings, thus preventing the gatherers and their families from normal functioning. E verything Will Come in Handy, Kalina Bańka’s latest exhibition, is a story of endless numbers of collected objects, ephemeral matter of the physical world, psychosocial instability, inherited traumas and mechanisms of survival. It is a picture of the bittersweet relationship with her grandmother, resulting from the condition described above.

The multidimensional wall installation at the SIC! gallery consists of Kalina Bańka’s premiere works “inscribed” with stories from her granny’s life and a number of various objects listed earlier, dumped and forgotten, but reclaimed and gathered because “they will surely come in handy” one day, collected by Antonina, but also by the artist herself. Kalina has won her battle with overabundance, at least in her everyday life, but the artist’s grandmother is firmly convinced that if she throws away too much, then not enough of her will be left. In the world of gatherers every object has its value, and eliminating even the smallest one is connected with a deep sense of loss, comparable to losing someone close.

In E verything Will Come in Handy, Kalina Bańka honestly and truthfully shows us the current and the lost grandmother. Her tenderness and fear… Fear of her copying the life story, the sentimental journey… And just like every artist, she feels the inevitable and yet wants to face it. She follows a perverse formal assumption. Every object, real and created not only in the world of colour order, becomes an element of a melancholy spell by which the artist wants to shape reality and a favourable vision of the future. The question is whether the spell is potent enough. Will everything come in handy…?

Curated by Mika Drozdowska

All images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Gallery SIC BWA Wrocław
Photocredit Alicja Kielan