On the Insatiable Hunger of a Deeply-rooted Need to Visualise. An Attempt at a Localisation of the Artistic Practice of Zenita Komad.
by Hans-Peter Wipplinger
The label ZENITA CITY speaks volumes! In the absorption of her already astonishingly comprehensive and diverse oeuvres we immerse ourselves in a cosmos of the other and of the foreign, which we discover as no less surprising as it prompts us to reflect on the multiple developments of our history, of our behaviour and consciousness. In the case of Zenita Komad, life and work merge to form a unity – in our reflections and no less in personal discussions it very quickly becomes clear that life represents, above all, the primary source of inspiration for her work. Those unrelenting questions about life and the social environment can be safely characterised as belonging to the existential concerns of human beings. In acting – often in collaboration – she feels her way around her world, marking fixed points for her orientation and relations in the here and now. Komad’s practice is one of attentive observer of everything seen – whether of histories/stories, of world views, of systems, of the social or political environment, etc. – submerging itself within these thought models, questioning their meaning and subjecting them to her own very unique reflections. She does not shy away from quoting her own iconic saints, sometimes going on to paraphrase them or even knock them off their pedestals. However, in this scrutinizing process – considered from the point of view of style – she always adapts the reconstructed deconstructions to her own original signature, and transforms these into her personal pictorial vocabulary. She lovingly accepts her own paragons and fellow travellers, with whom she is united in friendly, platonic relationships of kindred affection, only to then suddenly incorporate them into her ZENITA CITY. In no sense does she behave like an archivist – in the sense of a scientific, meticulous recording of information, but, quite to the contrary, acts almost entirely spontaneously, enthusiastically and intuitively according to her own criteria and particular interests. Hence, the real life of her time, much like the thought of her personally and culturally defined ego, always gains the upper hand, with the objective of researching the conditions of perception and revealing something like the state of culture. In the course of this production, she proceeds much like an energy-charged worker at the production sites where – naturally symbolically meant – the blast furnaces seethe, and in whose workshops an incredible, virtually explosive energy pulsates, almost as if ZENITA CITY was fresh off the drawing board; and where all that counts is the fulfilment of the mission with no further hesitation so as to allow reality to unfold from the vision. A reality which emerges from visionary set pieces and which – to return to the image of the city once again – proceeds to construct itself, district by district, in a fantastic manner. Thus armed, the universe of ZENITA CITY describes a world, or rather a (social) place, in which the ideal conceptions of being are realised: undogmatic philosophies abound there, the most diverse kinds of personalities with their own visions of society are a part of this terrain and receive a pass, and thus the possibility of access to the foreign, utopian city of Zenita Komad, the architect. The reference to Thomas More’s novel “Utopia” published in 1516 comes to mind here, in that it treats of an ideal society from a distant region of the world or a fictive island kingdom.
In her artistic production, Zenita Komad’s interest lies neither in style nor in the fashionable, and not in the least in the tastes of the public at large. What is of most importance to her, it would seem, is her freedom, and to be independent both in terms of aesthetic production as well as in life. Only if these conditions are fulfilled can the pure intuition of the moment, in all of its dimensions and authenticity be attained and artistically mediated. Her word games, which find numerous ways on to the canvas and in sculptural works, those which have something inherently Dadaist about them – in view of the anarchistic unification of various artistic disciplines, as well as in the sense of coincidence as a principle of creativity and, finally, in terms of the technique of production with reference to the method of the module-like collage of word, image and object – articulate her world view perfectly. Behind the meaning of the picture are mostly concealed other meanings of words, designations of signs free of meaning. Zenita Komad’s use of letters and signs occasionally recalls the founder of the Lettrist movement, Isidore Isou, whose work focused on the atomisation of words and letters with the intention of bringing about a revolution of conventional aesthetics. From Lettrism, it is a short distance to concrete as well as to visual poetry, where, once again we return to Zenita Komad. Not unlike the procedure as practiced by Isous, the artist cares little for the constraints of coherence, neither linguistically nor philosophically. The text-image-poetries deviate substantially from one another, contradict or support each other, break open the codes of reception or deconstruct their semantics. At times, the viewer comes away with a sound of uneasiness, of pensiveness or even of sadness, sometimes with a feeling of cheerfulness, irony and absurdity. The outflowing fluid, that floods the world with Zenita Komad’s bombastic creations, is – in any case – at once inspiring and stimulating, finally going on to leave the recipients, though not due to the breaking of causal chains, in conceptual oscillations.
Delicious freedom, peaceful anarchy and, not to be overlooked, the sad-cheerful dance through life recall, somewhat strikingly, the alternative worlds of the literary figure Mary Poppins, whose credo was to sketch the way humanity merges with the universal creation and is, at the same time, dependent on it. Perhaps more than ever before, it is just such artistic strategies capable of escaping from the modern world that the present day requires – at least from time to time. When transferred to Zenita Komad’s work, this has not the slightest in common with escapism but far more with a magic-spiritual endeavour to interpret the essence of the world metaphysically, mystically and – if one considers the artist’s world-creations – also lyrically, as is common in an age of alienated society conditioned by a flood of information. This Komadian method, which, due to her high-level of intuition, one cannot characterise as strategy, represents a remarkable contrast to the rationalist-realist, high-gloss world characterizing today’s aesthetics. Her metaphysical poetry – with which medial forms (painting, drawing, installation, performance, music and film) however generated – provides us with a more secret insight into the appearances of the world. This artistic practice, exemplified by an uncompromising opulence, and at the same time by a lightness, surprises, distresses and brings peace to our senses, perceptions and yearnings, hence enabling the attentive viewer – at least temporarily – to flee so-called reality, while permitting him or her to recognise and acknowledge it from a certain distance. For Zenita Komad, the single reality – naturally, always constructed – does not exist. Is this, perhaps, the only possible strategy by which to escape the problem of ontological knowledge...? The expeditions to the many various truths – especially in the age of the image and virtuality – represent an edifying and, at the same time, endless project that has the effect of learning by mistakes and of negating or exploding the ultimate, apodictic truth. Perhaps, somewhere in this jungle of relativising methods, is concealed the chance for spaces in which there can be contradictions, for deviating conclusions, for shifts in meaning and a playful openness to the possibility of fundamental relations between humans and world, in short, for an attempt at orientation and a definition of the position of present-day life.