Interview with Kasia Gumpert about Karl Marx and her MFA Thesis Show.

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For her MFA-Thesis Show Kasia Gumpert has transformed the LIC- Studio Gallery into a dreamlike neon space with intuitive fragments and installations that feel like three dimensional snapshots and open up associative worlds and dreams inside of other dreams. The show is at the ICP MFA Studios // 20-24 Jackson Avenue//3.Floor and open Friday and Saturday from 12 to 6 pm.

 What did you do before ICP and what will your show be about?

I always felt I needed some interdisciplinary studies – I designed my own degree program. I started with Culture Studies and Literature in Poland, and then one summer I came to NY and decided to transfer my credits to stay here. I went for Film Studies at Hunter College and I watched all kinds of movies at home. I also started taking printmaking, collage and photography classes. At that moment having critiques with painters and sculptors, I was cursing their point of view that a photograph was just a photograph. Now I am cursing photography as a flat medium that it is not enough for me to express myself through and so I started building installations. My show is about experience and conversation. I am interested in decoding public objects, common signs, brands and re-coding it with my own personal world (cosmology.) By providing clues, I am interested how objects can feel and how certain emotions can be projected on artificial surfaces. I am also interested in puzzling the meaning. It’s like asking people about their favorite cheese, animal, fruit, etc. Certain fruit, cheese, animal is a type you wanted to be represented by. I am stubborn – I really want the blue cheese to be BLUE. Definitely, if I hadn’t gone for art I would be a psychotherapist. My show is about traveling through different channels and when I travel I never follow any directions. I believe in unexpected destination and trust my intuition.

What is interesting about Korea for you and what do you think makes it important to look at Korea from over here in the United States?

It is more about personal experience. I always feel at home in Seoul. Everybody is polite, everything seem to be nicely arranged – I could stay there forever. Also, I like those advertising boys in front of drug stores. I spend a day looking at stickers, diaries, drinking green tea latte and eating mango cake. Coming back to NY seemed like an overwhelmed world; everybody is excited about everything where there isn’t anything to be excited about. People like to exaggerate things here and there isn’t space for just being honest.

Do you think your art is political?

I am political in my own world – Karl-Marx’s world. I am not questioning the future or the commodity – I am kind of excited what’s coming next.

Which message do you want people to take home from seeing your art?

I like to leave space for the viewer so they can enter my world and spend some time with me. I like listening to them – I’m kind of interested in them perceiving my work. I enjoy talking on different levels of consciousness. Like one thing can mean something completely different thing for another person and where this conversation can take us.

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In your invitation for the show at the ICP- Studios you cite a famous quote from Karl Marx. How important is he for you and your art work, and what did you learn from reading him?

That’s good that you thought I quoted. They are my words through Karl Marx – I projected myself in it. It’s more about using found names than citing somebody’s words. For me, Karl-Marx is a product of our time. I also do believe in partners and finding right ones to work with. I decided to collaborate with Marina and Karolina. We imagined a Karl-Marx Island – a shared space where people exchange, built and create. It’s a place of connections formed through three different voices: forest, stars, and ocean to speak through one body (http://karl-marx.org.)

In what kind of environment did you grow up and how important are your origins for your work and interests?

When I was three years old, my parents decided to move to Bangladesh. I spent 4 years there, being exposed to different culture. I went to public school – my parents always wanted me to understand others. Before coming back to Poland, we travel through Asia.  I specifically liked Singapore’s glass buildings and Thai tigers. I remember braces on the teeth when people smiled, the sign that chewing gum was forbidden in the subway and at that time, I really liked bubble gum so I screamed and chewed that gum – I always did what I wanted. I remember my care-free bear with the rainbow on his stomach. Oh, and this guy in India that could hold a huge stone with his penis. The lizard came through my last year visit to Hawaii where I decided to walk and talk to people. I spent a night talking to a 60-years old sandal maker who showed me his friend – it was a small white lizard on his ceiling when we were drinking tea. Next day, I met a 16-year old boy who had a green plastic one. I like those kinds of moments in life when they happen – one day you learn to teach the other day.

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 What can an installation do that photography can not?

Photography is a nicely designed world for our body. It’s just a cover (a mask.) You compose, frame, you show the way you want to present the things you want to talk about. It’s only a fragment, a part that you want to explore at the moment. Installation exposes more –you are naked – you see the space and the materials that are dependent on one another (like skeleton) – it’s more tangible. I like to use photographic language to construct things. It’s a whole spectrum of experience.

What is happiness? (or:  // “what is freedom”) Please choose one of both to answer.

Freedom for me is being independent. You trust yourself enough to know that the way you see the world is right for you and you don’t need anybody to approve it – I actually answered your happiness question too. 2 -in -1.

Do you have plans for the time after ICP and for new projects?

I am planning to go to North Korea. The South Face ® was about future, now I want to experience the past. Next postcard, Karl-Marx is going to send from Pyongyang.

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