NATALIA LL “WORD”
Natalia LL, Visual artist working in photography, experimental videos, drawing, performance and installations in Poland and Europe since late sixties.
She is most renown for her erotic photography inspired by the writings of Marquis de Sade and Georges Bataille. In that period (early seventies) she created the following projects; Intimate Photography, Consumer Art and Post-consumer Art. Simultaneously, she worked on projects inspired by conceptualism, linguistic research, and visual poetry.
One of her earliest projects inspired by the visual qualities of a language is “A word” (1971). It is a collection of 12 photographs and a videoclip showing the artist spell a single letter in each photograph, together assembled into a mysterious word, ultimately known only to the artist herself.
Malgorzata Dawidek in her book “The history of the visual text- Poland after 1967” points out one other feature of Natalia LL’s work. “Each single frame is an image of the bare face of the artist, addressing The Other as her lips slowly spell out each word in a slightly exaggerated manner. The silent presence of The Other, though without interrupting the message itself, brings up another level of this artwork; each expression of the artist’s bare face subjected to the act of speech can be perceived as a signature of The Other.. The artist doesn’t expose her face entirely; she masks her lips with make up, simultaneously emphasising them. That way her lips become synonymous with each word she spells out, like in the Barthes’s theory of punctum.”
Also in the early seventies, the artist created “Natalia !/1/“- a project inspired by her own name, which consists of 7 letters, of which she then composed a visual narrative of 5040 different configurations. “It caught my attention that my name consists of 3 A’s and singe N, T, L and I. I took them for individual elements, “bricks” that can freely construct new words. That’s how the construction of Natalia!/silna 7/ came to existence; simply as an effect of multiplying 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 x 7, giving an impressive number of 5040 new words”.
Both of these important yet not so widely known projects are shown in the exhibition.
To accompany the exhibition, a limited edition miniature book has been published, depicting the project.
Curator Grzegorz Musiał
There is something mysterious in the inner order of a word consisting of particular letters. I have paid attention to it when observing my name which includes three letters A, and four single other letters: N, T, L and I.
Treating letters as individual elements, “Bricks”, which form words, and changing the order of letters. I used them for constructing new words. In this way the building NATALIA! originated as a result of the multiplication 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 x 7 (factorial 7), which gave the impressive number of 5040 new, unknown for me words.
To become aware of the peculiarity of this procedure I have to quote examples of words created from the letters of my name.
I dealt with this experiment in December 1971. It was published in the booklet PERMAFO-SUM. (Works of Natalia LL 1970 – 1973) by the PERMAFO Gallery, 1973 in tiny edition. Only a few years later, during the 4th Art Festival Meeting in Belgrade in 1975, this text served as a libretto for my performance.
The individual words were read with great expression by Jovanka B. (this actress was the best reciter of concrete and avant-garde poetry in Yugoslavia of the time) and repeated by a students’ choir. I played the part of the conductor of the whole enterprise. The spectacle took place in the round Turkish Hall with excellent acoustic. The impression was extraordinary, because the chanted words were for me a message of the forgotten language of some unknown civilization. The energy of the words blasted in the historic interior.
The recording tape from the spectacle was later reproduced in the same round Turkish Hall, with the walls decorated with my Consumer Art visual work.
Natalia LL, 1975
Signum Foundation Gallery, ul. Piotrkowska 85, Łódź