Fungi, lichens, acrylic, pastel and charcoal on wood-inhabiting
The installation Sanctuary by Kristina Zimbakova (Macedonia) comprises four symbolic and figurative mixed media paintings on paper from wood-inhabiting fungi handmade by the artist. The works on display Crucified Cliff, Yoked Tree, Sanctuary and Night has Donned Her Mantle of Black were created in 2019 and 2020. Fungi and lichens are the major media, applied for drawing figures or creating a mosaic, besides acrylic, pastel and charcoal. The fungi, some of them rare or endemic, have been obtained during personal forays in the Macedonian mountains, in collaboration with bio-scientists. Zimbakova’s art practice is transdisciplinary, blending visual art with natural science and poetry. Her opus is primarily lyrical but via prudent use of fungi specimens in an art context, she also aspires to raise awareness for the conservation of these fascinating but often overlooked organisms.
In Buddhism, the Sanskrit word ‘ksana’ represents a tiny unit of time eluding our conscious awareness while within it, a lot happens. In each ksana of approximately 0.013 seconds, the ‘born, live, die’ cycle loops in human consciousness.
Setsuna 刹那 (Japanese for ‘ksana’) is an installation transforming individual drawings into a three-dimensional object. The drawings made on translucent paper show straight lines representing a time axis. Crumpled into a ball and folded open again, the paper shows a physical memory of the crumpling. Straight lines are reborn from curves.
The process of crumpling and straightening the paper is repeated until the showcase is completely filled up, allowing for the visual interweaving of individual drawings. The interlacing of lines represents the complex events in life happening during each setsuna. The clear glass of the showcase symbolises the perceptive human mind containing the accumulation of time, experience, knowledge, history and emotions.
The command 'Stop, Drop, Roll' is a device of fire safety to self-extinguish when the body is in flames. It connotes a necessary and urgent change of course through a series of abrupt actions.
Influenced by such safety devices, this work seeks to address the human experience when altered by the hands of others, and aims to question the social safety mechanisms we use to ensure our personal welfare. Often learned in childhood, we memorize a set of cultural and shared cues that promise success. Yet, despite the daily, at times devotional, practice of them, they fail us.
The first diptych of the vitrine depicts a hand reaching for a flame followed by trails of smoke in the adjoining image, suggesting a sudden transition by an unidentifiable other. The interior view of the vitrine shows a figure on its side with contorted arms and feet barely grounded, signifying a state of uncertainty.
I bought the trophy in 2012 from a trophy shop in the neighbourhood where I live in Sofia, and asked a friend to make the sign on it. Since then it has stayed in my studio. It is dedicated to all who like to see and put art into national categories and contexts, and all the competitions and competitors in and out of art.