Text for the exhibition "Gun Flower"  by Maria Vita Goral, presented in Angelinna Art Contemporain in Bruxelles, 2021. 

Healing is a battle

Maria Vita GORAL (Ukraine, 1991) exhibits in Angelinna’s vitrines her new project entitled “Gun Flower”, where she indulges in a game of contrasts between force and weakness, aggressivity and finesse. Aesthetic pleasure becomes the ground where violence - inherent to life - unfolds without betraying its usual traits. Pasolini’s poetry accompanies her creative process like a tempo reminding us of violence’s affinity to beauty, but also of the political dimension of creating. Can violence be beautiful? Or even, can beauty in its perfection be a form of violence? Maria Vita attempts a reference to the aesthetics of advertising, so strongly characterized by aesthetic perfection and the contrast between desire and distancing. There, she discovers a form of violence: the ardent desire for youth and a life that must look perfect. But is there anything perfect in life? All these are questions that surge as one examines Maria Vita’s installation. 

The use of the naked feminine body, wittily covered with flower bandages, leads to further questions. If the female body in the history of Western Art is treated as a spectacle, a field where a game is played between passivity and seduction, it is equally connected to the idea of fragility, a lack of power. Or could this lack be thought of as another potential? Flowers, like the female body, are visual symbols that bear an enormous heritage of signification. Maria Vita seems to explicitly pose this question: how else can we utilise those overused symbols? What new could result from this inquiry? 

Flowers for Maria Vita exist as a visual and olfactory caress that reminds us of the difficult beauty of life (similar to a bandage treating our daily hardships), often bearing however thorns, which can equally hurt. Flower petals, so fragile yet so flexible, seem to silently bear with them the crisis of our becoming through life. What does it mean to upgrade the wound, or more precisely the bandage, the protection of the wound, to a symbol? What form of dialogue can be installed in relation to trauma and healing; Yet, no indication is given as to which trauma is mentioned, or if in the end there is indeed a trauma. Rather, what we sense is a force, carried inherently like a promise on the delicate petals printed on gauze. The work, like a visual palimpsest, does not eagerly let the object of interest be revealed but rather exudes a visual murmur promising hidden pains. 

Pasolini's verses, the blazing expression of a dreamer wishing to transform the world, create a contrast, playing with symbols and idealism. What is the relation with actuality then, if not the reflection of a violent state of being that is life itself? Carefully distancing from political actuality, human life involves the violence of coexistence, which is never a simple story. Maria Vita’s flower bandages seem to silently remind us of the difficult condition that is life in its becoming, and where everything is played on the edge, à fleur de peau. And while the idea of fragility seems to grow through her gauzes, the artist pinpoints that what she is interested in is empowerment. Perhaps recognizing fragility may ultimately be not so much of a weakness, but a transformative force. And what can be a better reminder other than flowers, those ephemeral beacons that mark every critical moment of our equally ephemeral becoming, from birth to death and everything that goes in between?

There is a silent dialogue played between beauty and negativity. The flowers grow, slowly and patiently piercing the soil that hinders and nourishes them, in order to catch the sun and bloom in the ephemeral. For Maria Vita, our soul is similar to a garden, a garden we need to patiently and continuously cultivate. Led by her memory of war, flowers just like our scars become her talismans that protect us from the terrible, and reminders that instead of recognizing ourselves as fragile, we should take responsibility for our imperfections. By taking care of our wounds, we gain awareness and the potential to transform imperfection and insecurity into something new. Healing is a battle to be fought and our living bodies become the territory of this questioning that grows from and around life’s injuries. 

Athanasia Vidali