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Homo Bulla: Human as Soap Bubble, 2012–2014

3 Soap Figures, casts of artist's body IZOLYATSIA ART CENTER in Donetsk, Ukraine

The Latin metaphoric saying of human life being an extremely thin iridescent soap bubble that lives a few minutes and bursts from a mere breath of wind is firstly met in the 1st century BC in the treatise "Res rusticae" by the Roman writer and scientist Márcus Teréntius Várro. By the XVI-th century the Homo bullapopularized by Erasmus Roterodamus becomes an aphorism and takes its place among vanitas – still life paintings and genre scenes to allegorically reveal perishable nature of human being and transience of life.

Numerous images of children and angels blowing out soap bubbles often intermit with other symbols of vanity of pleasures and inevitability of death: withered flowers and fruits as symbols of ageing; skulls to clearly point out the sorrowful outcome; sea shells being remains of sea creatures that used to be alive; gambling dice, playing cards and chess to symbolize unpredictability and sometimes even absurdity of life game; dying out candles, broken mirrors, cracked tableware or simply empty glasses, which glass drives at fragility of human essence abandoned by its lust for life.

The soap sculptures by Masha Kulikovska continue the many-century vanitas tradition of West-European Art only changing the degree of metaphorical approximation. The artist forms the sculptures according to her own body forms in order to shift the human frailty talk from the general philosophical context to the personal sphere of the auto-biographical project.

The three Kulikovska's soap clones, in spite of the paintedvanitas of the centuries passed by, show up the ephemerality of being in the way quite other than metaphorical. The sculptures are purposely scattered around the Isolation territories in the open air to be in the middle of natural aging environment. Suffering from the sun, rain and the other atmospheric influences the soap substance gets washed off from the iron sculpture framework ultimately dissolving in the nature the way human bodies after the death do. Referring to the recognizable homo bulla motive, Kulikovska to modernize it creating not a representation, which esthetical context is to serve as an abstract sign, but the presentation, which dynamics of changes is more important than the form itself.

Delivery of the three soap sculptures in one of the isolation workshops is just the beginning of the project. We are to live side-by-side with the sculptures their transient life documenting the very process of their gradual aging and inevitable untimely demise. After all, only photographs will remain – our isolation family album about those ones who used to be by our side.

Summer 2012
Written by curator of IZOLYATSIA Art Center
Olena Chervonik
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