Malgorzata Mirga-Tas, the Roma artist who knits with “subversive stitches” | Culture | EUROtoday

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Malgorzata Mirga-Tas (Zakopane, Poland, 45 years previous) arrived in Seville a 12 months in the past with a conquest achieved and an project to hold out. This Polish artist of Romani ethnicity had managed to be the consultant of her native Poland in the 2022 version of the Venice Biennale, being the first lady of Gypsy ethnicity to exhibit alone in a nationwide pavilion in the complete historical past of this worldwide occasion. From there she obtained the fee from the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art (CAAC), in the Andalusian capital, for her first particular person exhibition in Spain, inaugurated final week. But earlier than visiting the centuries-old cloisters of the Cartuja monastery the place the museum is situated, Malgorzata Mirga-Tas made what for her was a pure journey: go to the Polígono Sur (which encompasses the neighborhood generally known as the Three Thousand Homes) , the place the largest gypsy inhabitants in Spain is concentrated, and one in every of the largest in Europe. She “She arrived alone on the bus, she got lost in the neighborhood, she stopped at a bar and had a coffee without speaking a word of Spanish, before calling me. It was a spontaneous approach,” remembers artwork historian, curator and activist Miguel Ángel Vargas, a gypsy and resident of the Sevillian neighborhood.

From that assembly with the girls of the gypsy neighborhood of Seville arises Remembrance and resignificationher debut exhibition in Spain (till March 31, 2024 at the CAAC), through which Mirga-Tas exhibits her imposing and colourful textile installations – presided over by the monumental piece that she exhibited at the Venice Biennale -, a fortunate of patchworks customs of monumental dimensions starring shut girls and members of their very own household who perform, exactly, work that they perform in neighborhood, collectively, akin to stitching itself. It is what the artist calls the “subversive stitch.” “Beyond the visual attraction caused by these immense looms, they are full of stories that we should all know,” says the director of the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art, Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes.

An image from the Malgorzata Mirga-Tas exhibition at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art.
An picture from the Malgorzata Mirga-Tas exhibition at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art.PACO PUENTES

The stigma of the gypsy individuals – whereas Miguel Ángel Vargas claims that time period in Spanish, Malgorzata insists on defining himself as “Romani” in the face of “the pejorative characteristics” that he finds in the English time period gipsy― continues to be very current in Europe, with the nice problem of social integration and a scourge: “A population that on our continent lives on average 10 years less than the rest,” emphasizes the Sevillian theorist, who accompanies the Polish artist in the inauguration of the exhibition as a crucial hyperlink for the improvement of the works he has created expressly for the Sevillian pattern. “Miguel Ángel familiarized me with the history of the Romani community in Seville, which had to be present here.”

The result’s three works made in 2023 for this exhibition, alongside with different bigger ones which can be borrowed from European collections, which have been positioned in the previous vestry of the church of the Monasterio de la Cartuja, inside the moldings by Pedro Roldán that in his day they housed Zurbarán’s work: the protagonists are three gypsy girls from Seville, “each with their own story,” says the Polish artist. With a nod to Zurbaran’s capacity to work with textures, Mirga-Tas makes use of glitter, lace and fringes to immortalize Herminia Borja (a singer from Seville’s Polígono Sur, born throughout the Franco regime), Manuela Carrasco Jiménez ( blonde gypsy with blue eyes who poses with her daughter Cati) and the legendary dancer Juana Vargas de las Heras The Macaronaparadigm of a precocious gypsy artist with a presence in the singing cafés of Seville, Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid, who arrived in Paris at the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and was named Queen of the Gypsies there, and whose picture Mirga-Tas recreates from a photograph from the album Gypsies of Spainby the ethnographer Roland Bonaparte.

Another view of the exhibition.
Another view of the exhibition.PACO PUENTES

To learn and expose these “other stories,” Malgorzata collaborated with residents, activists, historians and establishments of the Polígono Sur, constructing networks amongst gypsy girls, who lent her their garments and jewellery to make the tapestries, and sharing a listening course of with Africa Fernández Montoya, the dancer generally known as África de la Faraona. There, as Miguel Ángel Vargas, who has participated on this undertaking from the starting and has written an essay for the exhibition, remembers, “Malgorzata transforms into Gosia (Malgorzata, or Margarita, in the language of the gypsies) and makes herself understood with some basic words that in Romanó are the same as in Caló, the language of the Spanish gypsies. Their realities are very different, but they manage to cross each other with the affection of others.”

“It was important to break the distance between a neighborhood like the Polígono Sur and the Andalusian Center of Contemporary Art, we want this space to be filled with gypsies, with works that can speak directly to them in many of their codes,” Miguel Ángel Vargas helps the speech of the Polish artist. Precisely, Mirga-Tas’s relationship with museum exercise has all the time been marked by her ethnic origin. “Until 2014 I couldn’t start to be known in Poland because she was Roma and I was condemned to exhibit my work in ethnographic museums. “It has taken a lot to be able to start exhibiting this work around the world,” she acknowledges with out a trace of resentment.

Detail of works in the exhibition.
Detail of works in the exhibition.PACO PUENTES

Along with these three items, the Polish artist, who continues to reside in the Romani neighborhood of her hometown Czarna Góra and frequents Romani settlements in Podhale and Spisz with which she is deeply linked, clothes the partitions of the CAAC with different giant looms of excessive content material political and feminist, supported by the reminiscence of the fantasy of the arrival of the Roma communities in Europe and, above all, the cruelest persecution that the Gypsy individuals have suffered of their historical past, throughout the interval of National Socialist energy in Europe. During the Second World War, the continent’s Roma inhabitants was systematically exterminated, in parallel to the Jewish genocide, “but much more unknown,” she claims.

This is the case, for instance, with the sequence 29made with modeled paraffin, and which “exhumes the remains” of a feminine sculpture that was a part of the memorial he created in 2011 to honor 29 Roma murdered by the Nazis in Borzęcin Dolny, east of Krakow, which was vandalized and destroyed in 2016, coinciding with the important improve in nationalism in Poland.

Malgorzata Mirga-Tas, who graduated in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Krakow (2004), has organized a program of worldwide inventive residencies since 2011 that promotes Romani creation. In parallel to this exhibition, she has additionally simply inaugurated her first main exhibition in the United Kingdom with the Frith Street gallery, in addition to the exhibition Jangare at the Foksal gallery in Warsaw.

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