Visual correspondence between Gluklya and Kati Horna
27/02 > 30/04/2022
« On the ground floor there was a rectangular garden, full of flowering plants and tall trees whose branches reached up to the second floor. Kati was in charge of watering it, and in the meantime she photographed every flower, every leaf, every insect. Suddenly we heard her screaming, she was calling us. We thought she got hurt. Leonora, Chiki, Gaby, Pablo, José, the dog and I,we all rushed down the stairs together, we were frightened. Kati, perfectly fine, was photographing a chrysalis. “Look, this is the divine moment! The caterpillar is dying and the butterfly has yet to be born. What for one is a coffin for the other is a crib. But if the caterpillar has ceased to exist, the butterfly does not exist yet. In short, no one exists at the moment. I’m photographing nothing .. ”
When a fiery red insect spread its wings and started fluttering in front of the flowers, Kati murmured: “nothing has become thick. A new illusion is born ”, and Leonora commented:“ we should open up like chrysalis too and to re-emerge new ones, with straight hair similar to the rays of the sun, unimaginably other . » The spiritual journey of Alejandro Jodorowski : The Creator of “El Topo”. By Alejandro Jodorowski, 2005.
In an esoteric garden suspended in time and impossible to place in space, talking trees dance, other figures wear animal masks and contemporary surrealism is discussed. Some creatures are confronting each other: they are passionate, vital women, free from superstructures and constraints, capable of narrating the history and carrying on their personal revolution with intensity and desire. They talk about female resistance, emancipation and identity: sitting in this garden there are the surrealist photographer Kati Horna, her husband José Horna, the surrealist writer and painter Leonora Carrington, her husband Chiki, the painter Remedios Varo, the playwright and director Alejandro Jodorowsky, the British poet known for his patronage of the surrealist movement Edward Jones, the artist and designer Pedro Friedberg.
While the laws of logic remain excluded from this vision, rituals, unconscious and disturbing visions take place. Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna were the protagonists of the lesser known Surrealism: coming from England, Spain and Hungary, they first met in the Paris in the Thirties and fled into exile in Mexico with the outbreak of the Second World War. Once free from the Nazi-Fascist terror, they begin an artistic collaboration that gives a new imprint to the surrealist movement, a relationship also marked by the deep friendship that binds them.
In particular, the photographic work by Kati Horna was able to record grim aspects of reality and to tell traumatic historical events through dreamlike visions. Horna was a photographer with an intricate biography made up of travels and relationships and whose work is characterized by a way of rethinking the role of photography within an historical context such as that of the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi persecution and the exile according to a totally unusual and avant-garde narrative of the conflict. Horna implements a phenomenology of the invisible, that means, she was able to illustrate history with images that are not those of a reportage but using photomontages, compositional elements as if they were objects of a theatrical scenario of horror and absurd but without any explicitness. Horna was able to always keep this tension between the inside and the outside, between the on and off camera, between what is recorded in the shot and what is not immediately visible but requires an evocative thrust linked to the imagination.
The gallery space turns into a theater of the absurd consisting of a stage, costumes and props, elements that acquire new meanings linked to experience and encounters. This contemporary whirlwind carnival is directed by Gluklya, as heir to the socio-political battles fought by the surrealist artists, carries on a engagement through her artistic practice.
Gluklya, through installations, performances , conceptual clothes and works on paper, explores the concept of fragility as an invisible strength, facing the theme of the phenomenology of the invisible in a contemporary key. This research starts from the analysis of the history of Kati Horna and from this encounter that has become an expedient for an analysis of the political and social conflicts of our time. Through playful ways, Gluklya proposes as a solution to injustices in these dark times: a garden of trust, in which to meet and find ourselves with a new sense of collective resistance through hope ,union and imagination.
The concept of the show revolves around the idea of a visual dialogue between contemporary artists, represented by Gluklya, and the heritage of historical surrealism. “Garden of Trust: visual correspondence between Gluklya and Kati Horna” is subdivided in acts, like a play, that narrates the story underlying in the exhibition.
The first act was performance in which Gluklya engages with different people individually about the topic of care and contemporary resistance. These encounters reveal the most contradictory aspects of contemporary caring. The dialogues then are transposed into portraits that represent our inner selves through conceptual clothes. The connection between surrealism and activism is finally discussed in the garden inside the Theater of Trust, an installation that will be open for the whole time of the exhibition as a space, free from any judgment, where visitors can sit and chat.
The second act is the representation and exhibition of the, imaginary and imagined, dialogue, between the two artists. The visitor is welcomed by the photographic series by Kati Horna Oda a la Necrofilia (1962), an emblematic work of the artist who ate that point had lived in Mexico for several years. Oda a la necrophilia, where a female figure (played by Leonora Carrington), hovers around a mask lying on a bed. There is an immediate element of mystery as a somber drama unfolds in the first images. A shrouded figure moves from one side of the bed to the other and then prostrates itself sadly, before the mask’s empty, petrified face. The images exude pain but also an immediate eroticism: the lonely eroticism of a woman who worships the emptiness of the figure, who keeps vigil over it in a kind of ritual. Alongside the black and white photographs, Gulklya’s watercolors and installations from the Corona Drawings series, created during the pandemic, recall that sense of dark mystery and imminent drama. If Horna responds to sadness with eroticism, Gluklya does so with an inexplicable sense of excitement.
 “Jodorowski e le maghe”, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2014, p 67;
◆◆◆Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya (artist name Gluklya) (Leningrad, 1969) is considered as one of the pioneers of Russian Performance and Feminist artistic practice. At present she lives and works both in her birth town Petersburg and in Amsterdam. Gluklya uses installations, performance, video, text and research to develop her concept of ‘fragility’ – a subject that should be interpreted not in the sense of ‘beauty,’ but in that of ‘invisible strength.’ In her projects, she addresses the personal stories of her characters, analyzing them and revealing the conflict between political systems and a person’s inner world. Her work process is playful and her studio often turns into a meeting place where people work together on conceptualizing clothes and making other useable artistic items. In 2017, Gluklya was stationed in the former Bijlmerbajes prison, a unique location where she initiated the Utopian Unemployment Union (UUU), a platform for long-term collaborations with refugees, asylum seekers, students, art practitioners, scholars and other people. Under the umbrella of the ‘UUU’ and in collaboration with TAAK and her collaborators, Gluklya developed the Carnival of the Oppressed Feelings – a protest performance in Amsterdam. This performance was turned into an exhibition, curated by Charles Esche, in Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL. Gluklya’s oeuvre speaks of indignation and hope. She makes us attentive of injustice and she proposes playful ways through which people can resist injustice. Her work points to hidden tactics that people might invent, with the help of the artist, to empower themselves and navigate through structures of repression. During the 56th Venice Biennale, Gluklya presented forty-three ‘Clothes for Demonstration Against False Election of Vladimir Putin (2011-2015)’ in the exhibition ‘All the World’s Futures,’ curated by Okwui Enwezor. Her work has been exhibited in Russia and abroad in several solo and group shows: ‘Positions 4’, a cura di Charles Esche, Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL (2018/2019); The Return Of Memory, Manchester’s Home, Manchester, UK (2017); dis/order, art and activism in Russia since 2000, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, DL (2017); A Romance with Revolution, ACC Galerie Weimar and Pushkinskaya-10, St. Petersburg, Russia (2017); Disturbance, Kunsthalle der Sparkasse, Leipzig (2017); Hero Mother, Berlin (2016); Universal Hospitality (2016), Vienna; Feminism is Politics, Pratt Institute, NY (2016); New York, USA; Debates on Division: When the Private Becomes Public, Manifesta 10, Public Program, St. Petersburg (2014); Dump Dreams, Shedhalle Zurich, ( 2013); Utopian Unions, MMOMA, Moscow (2013); Reflecting Fashion, MUMOK Vienna (2013 ), Wings of Migrants, Gallery Akinci, Amsterdam (2012). Gluklya’s works are part of important collections such as: the collection of Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL; Gemeentemuseum Arnhem, NL; Moscow House of Photography, RU; Oslo National Museum, NO; Oslo Contemporary Art Museum, NO; Zimmerly Collection US; Mark Suchek, Lublyana; Archive of the Contemporary Conflict, London, UK; Mузей / State Center Contemporary Art , Moscow, RU; MMOMA, Moscow, RU; Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, IT; Museum Reina Sophia, Madrid, ES; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, RS; The Library of Museum of Modern Art (collection of newspapers), New York, USA.
Kati Horna (Budapest, 1912- Mexico City, 2000) born Katalin Deutsch, she was a cosmopolitan and avanguard photographer: her work is characterized by the influence of the principles of surrealist Photography and her own moving approach to photojournalism and documentary photography. Kati Horna began her photographic career in the young Republic of Hungary in 1933 where she attended, together with her friend Robert Capa, the most prestigious school of photography in Budapest, led by József Pécsi, she moved to Paris in 1933. In the French Capital she turned her attention to the life she saw around her in the streets and cafés: she was seduced by the unexpected, by the ability of objects to change even the most familiar reality following the Parisian surrealist model of those years. Between 1937 and 1939 the Spanish Republic commissioned her some photos of the Spanish Civil war, documenting the devastating effects of the war on ordinary people. Kati Horna dedicated her attention on ordinary life marked by the conflict, but far from the war scene. Her photos are mainly portaits of women who stayed at home in order to look after theirs children, to wash cloths in public fontains, to carry on an apperance of life. In Spain, Kati Horna meets also her future husband, José Horna, an Andalusian painter and sculptor, with whom she carry out many future works. Together they manage to leave Spain for Paris first, but just shortly, and then to reach Mexico.During the Second World War, Mexico City was inhabited by runaway artists and intellectuals who created an extraordinarily vibrant cultural atmosphere. In her Mexican production Horna manages to put together the cultural aspects of her nomadic life, the Hungarian and French experiences, but above all those in Spain. Here her photographic compositions become combinations as if they were architecture, with the presence of dreamlike objects, often abandoned dolls, followed by theatrical scenes, museum rooms and portraits of friends. Sometimes her life companions appear, such as the two surrealist artists, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, often her husband or some fragments of their domestic life, which allows the entire visual world of Kati to emerge: the attention to the formal composition, to the surprise and at the same time the atmosphere of collaboration of the avant-gardes.
Among her most important shows: Kati Horna. Fotografías de la guerra civil española (1937-1938), University of Salamanca, Spagna (1992); Kati Horna: Recuento de una obra. Fondo Kati Horna, (1995); Retratos de la contienda, Palacio de la Merced, Cordova, Spagna (2009); Surreal Friends: Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK (2010); Nostalgia por lo perdido / Asombro por lo encontrado, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca – MACO, Messico (2012); Kati Horna, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Messico (2014), Musée Jeu de Paume, Parigi (2014) e Museo de Arte Contemporàneo de Monterrey – MARCO (2015); Told and Untold: The Photo Stories of Kati Horna in the illustrated Press, American Society, New York, US (2016).