October 16th – December 11th
Mikill Skugga is an analog collage artist who participated in our Art Residency program. During one month of staying at Hestia a series of collage were created based on her Belgrade experience. Born in Warsaw, Poland. Lives and works in New York. Graduate from Academy Of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland B.A. in Multimedia Communications.
2019, Homo surrealism. Touchon&Co Gallery, Los Angeles
2019, Love Faith Hope. In honour of. Exhibition in three acts. First part: Love. Exhibition Bureau, Warsaw
2016, Zuzanna Ginczanka. Only happiness is real life…, Museum of History of Photography, Cracow
2015, Zuzanna Ginczanka. Only happiness is real life…, Museum of Literature, Warsaw
2015, HM Series, Bacaro, New York
PAN & THE DREAM vol.2
Oltre Collage vol.2
Benji Knewman vol.4
Mékanik Copulaire vol.8
Girls to the front vol.9
Girls to the Front vol.6
November 2017 | HESTIA Art Residency and Exhibitions Bureau | Belgrad, Serbia
“B” Series by Mikill Skugga
From my window in Belgrade I can see the Genex Tower perfectly, in morning light and in crazed sunset hues. There it stands, immense and proud, an thing unto itself. It is impossible to escape. My first foray into the city forced me to face it in the end, and unwillingly to confront my human figure with this slab of concrete. The attempt to visit it inside was only partly successful: I managed to take the lift to the 35th floor of the residential section. Exploration of the office part in the second tower ended in just viewing the beautiful, symmetric reception area that looked like something dusted and dragged straight out of the 1980’s. I was promptly asked out.
My initial thoughts obsessively revolved around the breaths that filled both buildings in their glory days. The deep climax breath of those in the residential part and the breath of relief of those leaving their office, with the revolving restaurant between them mixing both breaths. The moment before climax for some and the respite ‘after’ for others.
The persistent presence of Genex Tower was provocative. It was impossible to escape its energy and the sensation that what I see is more than just a fascinating example of modernist architecture. I took another walk around town and came back with a few copies of Yugoslavian porn magazines. The image of two women embracing that I cut out from one of them and put up on the wall attracted my attention no less than the building outside. The more I looked at it the more I saw how it incredibly corresponded with Genex Tower; it was almost a mirror image of the latter.
Soon I realised how both towers ideally represented the woman’s position in a male-dominated world, and what a perfect symbol it is of what I experience in my attempts to function in this world. To me, Genex Tower with its separate residential and office parts both linked by a revolving restaurant is an extraordinary metaphor of how women operate in a male-dominated world. This phallic glass and concrete structure encompasses the binary perception if femininity.
On the one hand there is the residential tower: the gender tower and everything ensuing from “the woman’s innate role” which has so little to do with nature. Taking care of the hearth, motherhood, sacrifice, devotion, submission: all this is imposed upon us as ‘femininity.’ On the other hand, there is the tower dedicated to business: the labour market tower. Seemingly the same, it is inaccessible so long as you do not shed the ballast of the first tower. This is the tower of illusions, based on the feminist narrative which I was fed in my teenage years and on the brink of adulthood. This narrative stood in contrast to my life’s experience and was based on the myth that men and women are equal.
The tower is a seeming existence, a space where we women can be equal, hence visible as ‘persons’ so long as we fit into the rules governing the tower, and comply with the principles established by and for men. Only if we behave like men and use masculine language, can we hope for a place for ourselves in this building. The male-dominated world encloses women in this binary set-up and offers her the ostensible choice of fulfillment in either tower. It seems to overlook the price women have to pay for renouncing their presence in one of these two spheres and for their attempts to reconcile them.
The crown and the link between both towers is the revolving restaurant. This is where I would locate female sexuality: at the very top of both towers. This is where it mixes and mingles to propagate into both spheres. In this small, UFO-like space the woman may be noticed when offering her gender package coming from the first tower; yet thanks to being set in another, more casual context, the package may serve as a gateway to the second tower. This is where the oppressiveness of both pathways is best seen: exit from the restaurant to the ‘home’ part as perception of the sexual act being something leading to fertilisation and acting in the role of mother, control over intimacy through anti-abortion laws, no access to contraceptives or sex education, and the way down from the bar to the workplace as sexuality which establishes the relationship of power, one used oppressively and linked with winning status, grabbing attention, laid bare for abuse, or – when renounced – facilitating the fitting in with the men’s world through castration.
The towers are symbiotic, but I would see this as a kind of courtesy rather than harmonious co-existence. Notably, the residential, inhabited section of Genex Tower is still teeming with life whereas the office part is deserted: offices have not been refurbished to meet today’s standards.
It is somewhat ironic, given that it is not just about the men’s world being ready to make space for women so long as they sing to the tune called by men. Also, media-friendly feminism has been lured into the race of keeping up with men and proving that women can be one and the other, hybrid creatures who thanks to their innate ingenuity will cope standing with their legs apart, one on either tower.
Likewise, the restaurant is empty, and this illustrates well the shift in approach to women’s autonomy and that of their bodies and sexuality.
Despite still being impressive and overwhelming the spectator with its powerful presence, the building is no longer in tune with reality. For years now new lessors, owners or investors have been impossible to find. In might in immediate future be torn down, just as the binary narrative that women have been forced into may be cancelled altogether. So far, the manner in which we have been trying to relate to reality has always been in reference to the masculine world and has always stemmed from the male context or denial thereof, or from attempts to join it or modify it. All efforts to adapt to a world thus constructed should be foregone. I have a feeling that women should find a completely different vernacular and model for expressing their femininity.
And, each one of us should do it on her own.
I have no doubt, and in fact I welcome this: reality as we know it will crumble. To’ing and fro’ing in a binary world is not in line with the world I want to live in, so I try and deconstruct it in my own way. There may be extreme individuals out there who are at ease with stereotypes, but I have not met any. I have met, however, many women who think and feel the way I do.
I myself often stand at the boundary of the male and female worlds. Sometimes I stand clearly on either side, yet I spend most of my time in between. I don’t offer stereotypical behavior that is perceived as womanly, and with all these years behind me I don’t feel I should be apologetic. The cultural and societal codes I have come to grapple with are not what fits me. I no longer wish to state that they are something I don’t fit in with, because I don’t have the ambition or the will to fit in with current reality.
Looking at Genex Tower from my window in Belgrade today I know perfectly well where I would position myself. I would be precisely in the gap between the two towers, in the air that flows between them. Light, and ever lighter.
To quote Luce Irigaray, I shall assert that what matters for me most now is to find the autonomy and specificity of a female detached from everything I have experienced and what I have been fed, including – or perhaps first of all – the autonomy of my own body and sexuality. The search, the attempts and the failures along the way: this is what my works are about.