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PURO Q&A: Anna Królikiewicz

22.01.2015 People

People and spaces create the essence of a city. Architecture, unusual places and objects, strange nooks, well-known paths, emotions, and memories. In our cycle we ask those who inspire us about their ways of creating and experiencing cities. Artists, designers, and creators of the contemporary urban world.

Anna Królikiewicz* feeds us not only with visual but also culinary art she produces. An artist born in Sopot and devoted to Tricity, Anna graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk where, since the graduation, she has been teaching drawing to students. Canvas and a brush have been transformed by her into the medium of food by means of which she creates sensory, synesthetic installations; often tightly linked to the context of a place. Anna travels, collects feelings and impressions, cultivates her taste and interpersonal relationships.

I experience a city when…

I walk. I wander, I catch scents, stare, come back twice to the same place and back up for I haven’t had a good look at something. Sometimes, when I find myself on an unknown territory, I use a map, although most often I can do without it: I follow paths used by the locals and directions they take. It’s their habits and short cuts they take that teach me topography. Once, when I was on a walk with my mom who is an architect, she pointed at a worn path that run against a sidewalk and said that an urban planner should have a good look at the signs given to him by passers-by because they know best where they want to have a sidewalk. I believe it pertains to a more complex matter...

If I decided to travel with a company I could irritate those who like to have their destinations set precisely during a day and who disregard a route itself. I stop, turn to the right because I’ve noticed something worth a closer look, because I believe other place to be prettier or I simply caught a scent of tea and felt like drinking one. Slowing down is what I do. That is the reason I would rather travel alone or with a group of people I know well, who like doing it the way I do, or at least they don’t mind.

When I want to meet people...

…in Sopot I go to a market to buy vegetables, even though I have plenty of them at home, which means they are not the real reason of my trip. In other cities I go to flea markets I happen to find on a map; I can get up very early and walk long distances to get there. At home, when I feel like meeting anyone, I go to Facebook which is my contemporary agora.

When I want to relax…

I get up earlier than usual, make my bed more diligently, clean the kitchen, water plants and set rooms in order because I cannot concentrate in chaos. I head towards the room I work in with the feeling that all the routine is under control; then, I immerse myself in work, in the part of it that excludes connections and confrontations and requires me to engage in a dialogue with myself. I spend a lot of time alone, I really enjoy it; since childhood I have preferred staying in my room with my very own matters, books and crayons to going out and having fun on a beach or in a garden. It is not the case of pure enjoyment, though; to me, it’s the condition of strength and hygiene.

I walk…

Not  as often as I should or would like to. I walk when I’m at the seaside, although I avoid this place during summer. I walk as much as I can in cities unknown to me, until I get acquainted with them.

I discover…

My latest and greatest discovery in regard to cities is Lublin. I went there because I’d been invited to present the “Absoluty” exhibition during the Night of Culture (in Polish: Noc Kultury). I was stunned and soaked into the city. I did travel a lot and I continue doing it but I haven’t been so enchanted for a couple of years. I remember the moment I left the airport it was a scorching hot June day and rain had just stopped. Lublin is a mystical city incomparable to any other place. The level of spirituality is absolutely tangible, physical. On a one street we can find a shop with Gothic clothing next to a synagogue. This city is authentic, spotless. I was staying in the renaissance Dom na Podwalu where, next to my room, masses were taking place every day at the altar that had been moved from the castle chapel… The atmosphere was reminiscent of Schulz’s Cinnamon Shops. Lublin smells of hundreds of years.

I find treasure…

At flea markets, in antique shops, second-hand bookstore, second-hand clothing stores, on the Internet and the French eBay. I love things that were once in somebody’s possession, played some roles in somebody else’s life.  The sight of these worn-out objects brings relief and makes me think that “somewhere there a life went on”. For a while it diverts my attention from my own existence; it turns out I’m not the only person in the world… I have the same feeling in regard to worn-out clothes. I touch them, put them on and think about bodies that used to wear them too. I feel like I’m taking part in something.

I used to be presented with treasure. And what is treasure, you ask. Objects that are given to me with thought and feeling, the ones found especially for me…Sometimes it will be an unmatched earring or a book from a second-hand bookstore. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  To give treasure to somebody is to give them attention. With the recognition of your needs. It cannot be faked.

The taste of a city…

Sopot is about the taste of childhood, a dry taste of Ankara is totally different from that of salty Istanbul. I find the taste of Africa to be bitter, I won’t forget it and I don’t want to come back there for the time being. When I travel, I try traditional meals eaten by local people.  The logic of eating what’s traditional in a given climate is obvious. For a long time I’ve been discovering the world through what has been served to me on scratched tables, shabby plastic tablecloths or even the starched ones.

Nevertheless, a city to me is mostly about the smell. I got sick from the smell of a subway in every city: that’s the result of the traumatic recollection of one day in the Paris ‘Metro’ from before 26 years. In Sopot it’s the smell of fish drying nets in “my” part of a beach, “my” bakery, “my” gasworks around which I was running as a child, amazed at the incredible and subtle smell of gas (I was that kid who used to sniff petrol at petrol stations). Thanks to the Artloop festival in 2013,  I breathed life into “my” florist’s for a few days before it was pulled down. In cooperation with a laboratory I created a smell which, if emanated in an empty glass room, could awake synesthetic impressions in visitors. I was trying to create a feeling of being surrounded by slowly withering flowers. I was trying to free what was closed and inaccessible in a transparent, shut and almost non-existent florist’s by “drawing an aromatic curtain of freesia and lily of the valley” over the audience.

Things I always carry with me…

Shea lip butter, because I talk and eat so much my lips constantly dry out.

A must-have item in my suitcase…

Converse sneakers which have already experienced a lot, because it’s not comfortable to walk in high heels all the time; a small tourist camera; notes from before leaving to check whether the places I plan to visit are worth the effort or whether they are only an excuse for finding what’s the most crucial on a given trip: usually people and pictures.

*Anna Królikiewicz

Artist, teacher, author of numerous exhibitions and installations. She works as the Associate Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk where she teaches drawing and at School of Form in Poznań where she gives classes titled The shape of taste. In her drawings and objects she deals with a broadly defined corporeality of a body and the fragility of memory. Her latest works touch upon the issues related to the physiology of taste and the phenomenon of synesthesia.

photo: Anna Królikiewicz and artist's portrait /Nina Kertselli, portrait of the artist's hands /Lucyna Kolendo, site specific installation States of Matter I, Artloop Festival /Bogna Kociumbas

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