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Throughout the entirety of her oeuvre, Polish artist Zofia Kulik (born 1947) has fought for that which is particular/individualistic within the system of the general/the collective. She does so through the appropriation and recontextualization of gestures and visual symbols. Her process reveals the invisible mechanisms of control that structure visual idioms of ideology, and with them, society and political life. In discussing her work as a solo artist, this thesis focuses on how Zofia Kulik has interpolated her Archive of Gestures (1997-2007) into Splendor of Myself V (2007). In this series, Zofia Kulik embroiders herself elaborate Elizabethan-style dresses using these human motifs, all of which are placed in repetitive patterns. The series depicts Kulik as the queen of her archive, gradually breaking out of the subjugation she herself has experienced. Therefore, she mainly uses gestures that relate to a theme of submission; by positioning them on her dresses, she is their ruler. Kulik’s series, Archive of Gestures—which she references in all of her works—is a photographic study of gestures from all epochs of visual history. The series examines how both the individual body and bodies en masse have been inscribed with an iconological-symbolic notation via the gestures they use. This notation strips bodies of subjectivity, subverting their content into a generalizing motif—an element of ideological ornamentation. Within this configuration, the body gains an anonymous character.
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Howard, Maya J., "Pantomimes of Power in the Court of Kulik: Zofia Kulik’s Visual Idioms of Individuality and Ideology" (2020). Senior Projects Spring 2020. 2.
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