Common Grounds: Kristyna and Marek Milde, Self-portrait, 2016, installation view, dirt on canvas, transfer from the artist’s apartment kitchen floor, accumulation of traces and the residues of life over the period of 10 days , diptych – 74”x 68” and 74” x 81”
Photo by Eva Heyd
Common Grounds is a series of self-portraits generated through interactions with sites and places, utilizing naturally occurring dust. In the project, we examine the notion of presence versus representation using media of painting to create individual, site-specific portraits and to investigate ways of depicting the elusive nature of self, touching on identity psychological and physical. Considering the inherent relationship of self to environment and identity formed in connection to a place, the project engages the idea of a personal space sheltering human identity, representing the immaterial zone of privacy and comfort within the geography of physical space. In its focal point are individuals and spaces, which the subjects continually inhabit and closely relate to such as home.
In the process of making a white canvas is stretched on the floor of a selected environment in a whole room or its portion, where it temporarily becomes a part of the situation, while absorbing the presence and people’s activities over a period of time. The process similar to a long photo exposure accumulates traces, dust, and dirt that develop into individual forms and patterns through rubbing, tracing the dynamic of events of life, actions and activities, drawing the boundaries of the personal space. The project Common Grounds began on the kitchen floor of our Brooklyn home, and now we expand the process further by inviting others to participate in making self-portraits, and explore and experience our common grounds.
We are inspired by the patterns and forms, developing as a byproduct of presence. The marks and traces form seemingly abstract soft, cloudy, and enigmatic images, but in nature very real and concrete with a distinct language, which is dirty, poetic and beautiful at the same time.
Cultural conventions defining filth, classify dust, and dirt as subject of cleaning and removal. Similarly they govern and dominate the rooms and hallways of our psyche, shaping our self-perception and image of who we are, want to be, and who we pretend to be. The project Common Ground confronts selective nature of self-presentation such as in the selfie cult. In the contrary the Common Ground portraits are inclusive and un-monumental in nature, open to what ever life produces, facing the unedited reality of our existence. As traces are individual and truly unique, they at the same time are universal, pinpointing our presence in space, allowing to be aware of where we are, and who we are, mirrored by the environment we live in.