Danusia x Puspa (2020)

Tempera, oil, and casein on wood; and tracing paper, pigment, and rice pasteDimensions variable

The installation Danusia x Puspa takes an impossible meeting between two women as its starting point to reflect on the experience of being simultaneously together and apart.

Danusia and Puspa are characters in modern retellings of 14th and 15th century tales and history. Danusia was originally depicted in Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1900 novel Krzyżacy (The Knights of the Cross) and in Aleksander Ford’s film of the same name in 1960, both of which were based on the 1410 Battle of Grunwald in present-day Poland. Puspa appears in Omar Rojik’s 1962 film Singapura Dilanggar Todak (Swordfish Attack on Singapore), which revisits a legendary tale of a young boy who saves Temasek, now called Singapore, from attack by ferocious swordfish.

Danusia and Puspa never met, whether in fiction or in reality. This inability to meet represents how we can never fully meet someone else. There is always something in us and in the other person, which remains obscure and opaque.

Standing in the middle of the folding screen, the viewer is unable to fully see the face of a person who stands on the other side. Yet through the frames on the sides, the viewer can see both the sun and the moon. These celestial bodies, appearing as partial, distorted forms, reflect on us sharing one common existence on earth.

The folding screen/frame brings together motifs from batik and illuminated manuscripts. The paper sculptures in the installation are each made from a circle, representing the idea of oneness and connection. This sense of unity is equally drawn upon and broken up by cutting, folding, rolling, and curling the circle into a variety of forms.

Exhibited at MFA exhibition The Third Room (2020), Galeria Neon, Wrocław.

Photos: Alperen Şahin