Helena Stiasny


curated by Elaine ML Tam

Sarah Kravitz Gallery
17 Soho Square, London, UK

9th December 2023 – 13th January 2024
Who, or what, is the ‘girlchild’? She is an issue of feminism, the victim of misogyny, an instance of culture, the fiction of women, the dysphoria of gender. But she is neither fixed archetype nor identifiable personage, insofar as the girlchild exhausts definition with infinite forms and affects. If one thing is certain, it is her impossible youth that characterises her – the surplus of this impossibility underscored by the excessive, tautological portmanteau of the term. Made consumable fantasy, the girlchild speaks to the insatiability of desire and etiolation of unfulfilled longing, wherein her innocence is manifest perversion. Abducted by every aspect of culture, the girlchild is at once a standard, an aesthetic and an idealisation; her presence is most palpable in the negative, in moments transgressed, where her perfection is de-realised and double-crossed. Bringing together a selection of recent paintings and works on paper, Helen Stiasny’s first solo exhibition in London is a love letter to the evanescent figure of the girlchild.
Elaine ML Tam

Kim lub czym jest "dziewczynka"? Jest kwestią feminizmu, ofiarą mizoginii, instancją kultury, fikcją kobiet, dysforią płci. Ale nie jest ani stałym archetypem, ani możliwą do zidentyfikowania postacią, ponieważ dziewczynka wyczerpuje definicję nieskończonymi formami i afektami. Jeśli coś jest pewne, to jest to jej niemożliwa młodość, która ją charakteryzuje - nadmiar tej niemożliwości podkreślony przez nadmierne, tautologiczne połączenie tego terminu. Uczyniona konsumpcyjną fantazją, dziewczynka przemawia do nienasycenia pożądania i etiolacji niespełnionej tęsknoty, gdzie jej niewinność jest oczywistą perwersją. Porwana przez każdy aspekt kultury, dziewczynka jest jednocześnie standardem, estetyką i idealizacją; jej obecność jest najbardziej namacalna w negatywie, w momentach transgresji, gdzie jej doskonałość zostaje zderealizowana i zakwestionowana. Pierwsza indywidualna wystawa Heleny Stiasny w Londynie, zawierająca wybór najnowszych obrazów i prac na papierze, jest listem miłosnym do ulotnej postaci dziewczynki.
tłum. Paulina Gołda
Helena Stiasny

‘Often, before her decay has become too obvious, the Young-Girl gets married.
The Young-Girl is only good for consuming, pleasure or work, it doesn’t matter.’
– Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, 2012
The best day of your life started with an episode of inane drama, a memory to which we are still strangely attached. Yes, the tantrum, I amply warned the others, was to be expected. Spring water pupils dilated with the terror of a murder witness, yours was the putrefaction of roses, the spread of an inexplicable pain slipping out from under your skin-matched foundation. Your first thought, you later confessed, had something to do with waterproof mascara and fake eyelashes. These kinds of details are still lost on me and include the fine difference between synthetic and mink. Clumsy example of bridal group tribalism though I am, you stick with me for other reasons. With mirrored fondness we refer to ours as sisterhood, a commitment signed in imaginary blood.
In response to this script of emotions, the bridesmaids huddled around you, a soft flock crowding in with hair extensions honey, sand and ash. Among blooms of blonds from the encrypted world of feminine charm, with double-barrelled names after flowers, there I was... the weed, the brunette. Between the cooing and chord-warbling falsetto, your clouded face lifted, fat dewdrops in remission. I know this process too well: the gradations by which fatalistic sadness leaves your glacial beauty. How you wash ashore and, for a split second, are left sober, as vulnerable as an orphaned child. Resetting, you don that candied smile I have known all my life, resolute in sugar and glass, a crystallisation of sweet emptiness. We hugged you and made jest, because when you laugh, however falsely, everything within a five-meter radius is beams of sunlight and liquefied joy.
You were then readied – as the bakers did with your multi-tiered monument of a cake – to be a perfection worthy of display, then eaten and dispensed with. Rosettes decked out in cream taffeta, decadently layered trimmings, and delight in your heart-shaped face, which was veiled against inviolable perpetration. Your special day: even the decorations were decorated with a certain decorum. Bespoke everything in this merchandising totalism, the cupidity of scented candles engraved with entwined cursive initials. But your eye was trained solely on imperfection, and indeed, nothing but its frustration could have moved you to so desperately cry.
Well-moisturised vision of strength that you are, you charged on through the day with a blemish-free numbness. And it took hours: body parts were tucked and bound, cosmetic appendages applied, meretricious prostheses in French-tipped shellac. You became an object of veneration, a loveliness ceding to its ownership of nothing, a total work of art. The girlish, mimetic gaggle lives for proximity to you, after all, flattery is to adoration what girls are to human replication.
But I loved you before all of this, as a sunbed pre-teen engrossed in PG-rated liaisons, who cherished their minor loves as dollar-store souvenirs. It was you that gave me a fantasy so inoffensive in its genericism that it may as well have been mass-produced. Once the precocious youth with a tissue stuffed bralette, you gifted us the little girl who, in adulthood, could only ever be conveyed by white ribbon and lace.
by Elaine ML Tam
For more details contact info@sarahkravitz.com

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