“Disparate Mythos: Women of Sculpture” at Dimension Gallery

In this varied group exhibition, Magdalena Jarkowiec's two-ness shows the richness of sameness and difference in duos

Sam Anderson-Ramons

Austin Chronicle

August 19, 2016

Magdalena Jarkowiec’s two-ness is two female figures combined in one at the legs so one stands upright and the other is upside down like a reflection in a still pond. The standing figure has a head, but the bottom one doesn’t. The bottom figure ends where the shoulders disappear into the floor. I imagine the oneness of this creature might not be damaged by two heads, but it is certainly emphasized by one. The single head at the top allows me more easily to think of two-ness as a being rather than two beings, making it all the more relatable, even endearing, especially given the fabric Jarkowiec has used to form her. It is a blue floral pattern like one might see on a nice stuffed chair or couch or even wallpaper, a classic blue-themed bathroom, elegant, not garish, which is essential because considering this floral pattern two-ness begins to be beautiful, welcome. It is not an ugly presence. It may be a stereotype to think so, but the pattern also lends femininity to the “creature” (too ugly a word? Too inhuman?).

One knows two-ness is female because she is nude – if such a creature can be considered nude (who can say whether she is nude or if this is not her natural and most-comfortable state, like an animal that wears no clothes). The nudeness of two-ness reveals her biology, protruding nipples and bright red pubic hair. I note there are two vaginas here and four nipples, with only one bright red nipple. This minor divergent detail calls attention to the two-ness of two-ness, that the upper figure has a single red nipple while the bottom figure has two more discreet nipples means one is, in fact, different from the other, that they are not simply mirror images of each other. This idea can be applied to any figures of two-ness, any doubles of people, twins, close friends, relationships, couples. My wife, I know, is very much like me, is often so close to me that she can read my mind and I can read hers, and this mind-reading is often done with no effort. She can often see and know what I do without a word. At the same time, she is utterly and profoundly a different person from me. We are not the same person and will never be the same person, and this richness of sameness and difference, cohesion and conflict, is what makes our married life sparkle. That friction and smoothness is the essence of human entanglement. That is the case with two-ness.

Most notable, as I have mentioned, is the single head. Do both entities making two-ness think and speak through that single head, or does the upper body think and the bottom headless body only gesture and feel, maybe communicating with hands alone (long fingers that could feel and communicate complexities with deftness). The head here is gorgeous and odd, with a gaping red mouth and cloth eyes. I don’t imagine words coming out as much as music, guttural tonalities and honks. I could be wrong. Maybe she speaks wonders, enchanting ululations, luxurious, haunting songs like calls to prayer. Her voice may be as counterintuitive as her floral skin.

The only obviously shared language in “Disparate Mythos: Women of Sculpture” is that of the object. Aside from this, the variation is expansive, a medley of perspectives. two-ness speaks one story while the others speak theirs. They are objects speaking in multiple dialects at once; a labyrinth of tongues mishmashed like Babel in the spirit of one.