Personal Structures

Personal Structures

In conversation with the enduring and shared intimacies of Personal Structures, my projects bring messages of duplicity, beckoning, and defiance. 

A golden, scythe-shaped object that initially lures like a piece of jewelry, was inspired by a tool used for hanging animal flesh. The idea for Hooked arrived on stepping into a work shed and spotting an old, oxidizing meat hook. I remembered the story of Jánošík, a famous Slovak warrior, who sits at the center of many Slovak and Polish legends, novels, poems, and films. He was captured, tried, and died by hanging on a hook in the gallows. A folklore has it that Jánošík refused any graces offered him with his final words, "If you have baked me so you should also eat me!" before he jumped on the hook and took his own life.  

The piece, now affixed to the wall by a golden ring, ends in an upturned tip, chiseled to the point of drawing blood. One doesn’t need to know the story of Jánošík to be sustained by its archetypal image, its sexualized up-turn, its piqued and defiant daring. I am, simply, reminded of this symbol’s comeliness as it relates to Jánošík’s suicide, as it is an act that demonstrates absolute control of one’s life and death, an act that spurns nature; in committing to it, we become our own God. 

 

However there is something else that this image, this tool, evokes for me. We are living in a hyper-sensitive and yet increasingly callous moment, wherein we are more liable than ever to be attacked in the diffuse realm of social media, and where our own opinions go conjured and sharpened in the public realm. And yet, the curated self, put on the chopping block of online judgement, has expertly trimmed off the fat of unsightly sides. By polishing the bronze of Hooked to a high-gloss sheen, its essential use and decrepit appearance (I think again of that rusted form in the work shed) have been honed, sheathed, and harnessed for enduring use. It resembles something it no longer is; it is not allowed to rust or acquire the patina of passing time. Instead it preens for attention, lures the viewer with a reflection, and yet shuns intimacy with its whetted tip.

 

As such, this work points to the hubris of contemporary society, where all we desire sits coolly within grasp, but our vanity ensures that we are perpetually disconnected. A prick of the finger reminds us of both our proximity and our distance, when we strain to overreach. So, in taking care not to reveal too much, there sits a deeper world beneath the skin of one obsessed by consumption and desire. It is important for me to stress the duality of objects, and a reminder, too, that these things are made equal in material, in metaphor. Through the suggestive realms of myth and symbolism, our tools become legend.

 

Apollonia Vanova would like to thank and acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, Canada

Personal Structures

Personal Structures

In conversation with the enduring and shared intimacies of Personal Structures, my projects bring messages of duplicity, beckoning, and defiance. 

A golden, scythe-shaped object that initially lures like a piece of jewelry, was inspired by a tool used for hanging animal flesh. The idea for Hooked arrived on stepping into a work shed and spotting an old, oxidizing meat hook. I remembered the story of Jánošík, a famous Slovak warrior, who sits at the center of many Slovak and Polish legends, novels, poems, and films. He was captured, tried, and died by hanging on a hook in the gallows. A folklore has it that Jánošík refused any graces offered him with his final words, "If you have baked me so you should also eat me!" before he jumped on the hook and took his own life.  

The piece, now affixed to the wall by a golden ring, ends in an upturned tip, chiseled to the point of drawing blood. One doesn’t need to know the story of Jánošík to be sustained by its archetypal image, its sexualized up-turn, its piqued and defiant daring. I am, simply, reminded of this symbol’s comeliness as it relates to Jánošík’s suicide, as it is an act that demonstrates absolute control of one’s life and death, an act that spurns nature; in committing to it, we become our own God. 

 

However there is something else that this image, this tool, evokes for me. We are living in a hyper-sensitive and yet increasingly callous moment, wherein we are more liable than ever to be attacked in the diffuse realm of social media, and where our own opinions go conjured and sharpened in the public realm. And yet, the curated self, put on the chopping block of online judgement, has expertly trimmed off the fat of unsightly sides. By polishing the bronze of Hooked to a high-gloss sheen, its essential use and decrepit appearance (I think again of that rusted form in the work shed) have been honed, sheathed, and harnessed for enduring use. It resembles something it no longer is; it is not allowed to rust or acquire the patina of passing time. Instead it preens for attention, lures the viewer with a reflection, and yet shuns intimacy with its whetted tip.

 

As such, this work points to the hubris of contemporary society, where all we desire sits coolly within grasp, but our vanity ensures that we are perpetually disconnected. A prick of the finger reminds us of both our proximity and our distance, when we strain to overreach. So, in taking care not to reveal too much, there sits a deeper world beneath the skin of one obsessed by consumption and desire. It is important for me to stress the duality of objects, and a reminder, too, that these things are made equal in material, in metaphor. Through the suggestive realms of myth and symbolism, our tools become legend.

 

Apollonia Vanova would like to thank and acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, Canada

 Tailes  40"x 160" x 60"  1m x 4m x 2m  Electroluminescent wire, Wood, Inverters  photo courtesy of Ben Roffelsen   

Tailes

40"x 160" x 60"

1m x 4m x 2m

Electroluminescent wire, Wood, Inverters

photo courtesy of Ben Roffelsen

 

 Tailes (detail)  40"x 160" x 60"  1m x 4m x 2m  Electroluminescent wire, Wood, Inverters   

Tailes (detail)

40"x 160" x 60"

1m x 4m x 2m

Electroluminescent wire, Wood, Inverters

 

 Tailes  40"x 160" x 60"  1m x 4m x 2m  Electroluminescent wire, Wood, Inverters   

Tailes

40"x 160" x 60"

1m x 4m x 2m

Electroluminescent wire, Wood, Inverters