3rd Kyoto University-Inamori Foundation Joint Kyoto Prize Symposium
July 9-10, 2016
Theme “Windows to the Future” - Looking Through the Eyes of Bio/Medical Technology, Mathematics, and Art - (Finished)

Zofia Kulik

Zofia Kulik

Master of Art


Title of Presentation

“Far away from wars. I am deathly afraid”

I would like to present two of my works which are polar opposites in terms of structure.

‘All the Missiles Are One Missile’ (1993). The title is a paraphrase of T.S. Eliot’s words: ‘…all the women are one woman’. This work takes the form of a “photo-carpet”. Viewed from afar, it appears to be a geometric pattern; however, as one draws closer, realistic images can be recognized. All of the images were taken from my archive. Many of them refer to the history of images and how they were used as visual artifices by propagandists in building nations and shaping societies. I once wrote: ‘I am fascinated by closed forms, centricity, symmetry, multiplication, order, figural ornament, imposing upon myself certain already existing patterns of structures’. These principles seem to be far removed from the freedom of creation. ‘I was afraid of myself – that I can feel and visualize subordination so well. I do not show an individual man. By visualizing “subordination,” do I appreciate and praise it, or do I mock it and abolish it? Accepting “subordination” as my problem and theme, full of fear and hatred toward the situation in which subordination occurs, I take an artist’s revenge with every weapon (symbolic and formal) that has been used against me’. This raises the question: Is a symbolic weapon the artist’s only tool for influencing reality?

The second work ‘From Siberia to Cyberia’ (1998-2004) has no central point, no borders within composition, and no metaphors. This work could be endlessly continued. The two names in the title refer to: Siberia – a bleak, frozen land, for many generations a place of exile for dissidents, and Cyberia – the name of the first Internet café in London: Cyberia Cafe. In 1998, I had no personal experience of the reality of either Siberia or Cyberia. Over the course of many years, I took photographs of images on television screens. The work is made up of over eighteen thousand images. The idea was ‘…to record the “river” of television images which “drift” in front of the eyes of most inhabitants of the planet (my eyes included). This visual material includes events, people, natural phenomena, wars, and also current affairs – which were recorded with film cameras (and have been from the moment of its invention), and then shown on television’. I was personally distant from those events, and yet, they have helped to create my mind and sensibility, and the work is like a trace of what my eyes have seen.

Both works are like epic maps. They are based on the quantity of images and the relations between them. I play with images. These are photographic images but I do not see myself as a photographer. I would like a theoretician to analyze the differences between my photo-works and photographs made by Ishiuchi Miyako. Our works seem to be in polar opposition but they express, I think and believe, a similar thoughtful perspective on the world.

(A curious discovery: Miyako and I share the same birth year (1947) and, coincidentally, so did our respective mothers (1916).

Presentation Movie


Web Site URL
A brief Biography

Born in 1947 in Wroclaw, Poland.

She graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Sculpture Department in 1971.

As a sculptor, photographer, installation and performance artist, Zofia Kulik’s work spans various different disciplines.

Since the 1970s, along with her partner at the time, Przemyslaw Kwiek, Zofia Kulik co-founded a duo KwieKulik. Through the introduction of performances, social actions and artistic situations, they has pioneered a conceptual investigation of language and power structures. They ran in their private apartment in Warsaw, an independent Studio for Art Activities, Documentation and Propagation. Its archives contain slides and negatives of ephemeral art in Poland of 70-ties and 80-ties, prints and artists’ books.

In 1987 Kulik pursued a solo career. First she produced an Archive of Gestures (1987-1991), collecting hundreds of photographs of a naked man (Zbigniew Libera), which were later used for other works, such as May Day Mass (1990), Square of the Palaces (1990), Guardians of the Spire (1990), March, March, March (1990), Still Man (1996), The Splendour of Myself (1997) and series under the common titles: The Human Motif or Symbolic Weapon.

During the 1990s, Kulik created multi-element, large-scale photographic compositions – ornamental, carpet-like structures with decorative geometric patterns, full of both historical and contemporary references.

In years 1998-2004 she created From Siberia to Cyberia, a gigantic tableau measuring 2.4 m x 21 m, composed of almost 18,000 small photographs of a TV screen.

Her work was exposed to a wider audience during the documenta XII (2007) in Kassel and at the 47th Biennale di Venezia in 1997.

Another important field of Kulik’s work lies in elaborating and promoting the historical oeuvre of KwieKulik.

Her present work continues her explorations from before the duo came into being. She has reconstructed her individual work of 1968-71 titled “Instead of Sculpture”.

She took part in numerous group shows, to mentioned some: War and Peace, Galeria Labirynt, Lublin, PL (2015); Progress and Hygiene, Zacheta – National Gallery of Warsaw, PL (2014); Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, New Museum, New York, US (2014); Decade of Revolt, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, SE (2014); The Splendour of Textiles, Zachęta National Gallery, Warsaw, PL; Better Homes, Sculpture Center, New York, US (2013); The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945, German Historical Museum, Berlin, DE (2012); The Politics of Collecting – The Collecting of Politics, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL (2011).

Zofia Kulik and KwieKulik duo are represented by Żak/Branicka Gallery, Berlin.

Details of selected Awards and Honors
Selected Bibliography on Zofia Kulik and her works

Zofia Krawiec, Love Performance, Galeria Labirynt 2016

Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, Images Performing History: Photography and Representations of the Past in European Art After 1989, Lieven University Press, 2015

Karen Archey, Zofia Kulik’s “Instead of Sculpture – Sequences 1968–71”, Art Agenda September 02, 2014

Georg Schöllhammer, Lukasz Ronduda, KwieKulik – Form Is a Fact of Society; BWA Wroclaw, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group, Vienna, 2012

Archives of Modern Art, Obieg, No. 1-2 / 75-76, 2007

International Photo Magazine, Ivory Press, London, 2007, pp. 158-170.

Zofia Kulik, From Siberia to Cyberia. Und Andere Arbeiten. Museum Bochum. Kunsthalle Rostock 2005

Sarah G. Wilson, Zofia Kulik: From Warsaw to Cyberia, “Centropa” v.1, n.3, September 2001.

Jerzy Truszkowski, The Structure of Kulik, Magazyn Sztuki, 2 / 1996

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Old Histories: Zofia Kulik’s Ironic Recollections, in New Histories, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 1996