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Sweet, Swiss Life 2012

700 self-made bricks from sugar and milk] Public Park of Uster, Switzerland, Summer-Autumn 2012

In a world-flooding twilights the glass 'ark' of 'Art-container' filled with yellowish light seems to be the saving focus of life and warmth. But this is quite misleading impression. In fact, inside, behind the glass, an active process of entropy is taking place, the entropy of material and spiritual. An object created by Mariia kulikovska is slowly deforming, melting and guttering here in this capsule – it is the brick made of the "world's best" Swiss milk and sugar. Another one variation on the theme of illusion of wealth – that is rather fragile basement of life.
House made of sugar and milk – almost the same as the "House of Sand and Fog", fata morgana

'Art-container' – a public exhibition space, supported by institution AKKU ('Battery'), which is located in Uster, Swiss Canton of Zurich. This time the container successfully fitted into the typical landscape of the bourgeois paradise – gravel, well-conditioned lakeshore which is a traditional place for Swiss Sunday picnics. Here lies the "border of the worlds": on the one side of the lake there is a social housing, on the other – office centers are building. There is something fascinating, magical, Beuys-ish in this show, in its idea to work with this vital substance (the only question is "of what?" – a nation or contemporary consumer society per se). Milky caramelized mass – is the personification of the myth about beautiful, sweet life that attracts absolutely everyone, but can't be reached by everybody. Oh, Switzerland! A country of people with perfect karma, the country of embodied "European Dream" – milk and honey, milk and honey…

Maria Kulikovska, after receiving a scholarship from AKKU, got into unfamiliar, new socio-cultural environment and naturally took the opportunity to study it hungrily and try to reflect, that is, to become a reflection of a "radically different" – lifestyle, mentality and value system. The attempt turned out to be quite successful, within this project the artist created some miracle of combination at one point of radically opposed views on reality – the look of insider and the outsider view. It is an observation of exotic welfare from the point of our poor "third world", and, at the same time, the Swiss look at themselves – and, in fact, this is a closed xenophobic society.
Cliquishness allows it to maintain a stable hothouse conditions of artificial prosperity. Life is predictable here – hasteless, measured, planned up to a minute. There were no wars for a long time, all money in the world flocks here, everything material is fetishised – the Swiss are sure that they consume not just the most expensive of everything, but surely – "the best", regardless of what it actually is. It is this hypertrophied cult of material, ideology of "masters of life" prescribed without a shadow of a doubt, that the artist was impressed by…

And, she decided facetiously to build an "unbreakable" fortress of welfare, or, at least, the wall of a ton of sweet bricks, which with the recruitment of a certain height was treacherously sinking. There is a coded metaphor of "Sisyphean labor" in this ill-fated construction – in the pursuit of material, we are ready for a fresh start over and over again just to suffer another one defeat…

During the performance Kulikovska was handing out to the audience sheets with text of the tale about three little pigs – that is a kind of confusing signs false message. It is always worthy to strive for perfection, choosing the best of all possible options – here is the pillar of the consumption ideology. The best – is the enemy of the good. But even ingredients of "Swiss Quality" won't insure us against defeat in the knowingly ridiculous enterprises. The hidden magic of this milky-sugary show softens its hard critical message. The bricks resembling white chocolate bars still look very tempting and delicious…

The paradox of self-knowledge – only by watching others you comprehend yourself. No introspection can bring as much good as looking at others from outside. Because despite the superficial social and cultural differences, differences in the culture of material goods consumption, the fundamental value system of capitalism – is always the same. No matter on what stage of development it is – the "wild" or developed one.

Thus the irony directed at others is always turns out to be the irony directed at ourselves. We, despite the fact of being still passionate about the struggle for survival, are bogged down with consumption just the same way – from the Ukrainian perspective, this project looks like, to some extent, a prophetic…

Written by Viktoria Burlaka, curator, art critic
Winter 2012
* * *

"...three brothers, three little pigs, looked after the escaping wolf and were glad that they had so cleverly won the evil rogue.
And then they sang their funny song:
"Though you go half the world,
Go around, go around
You can't find a better home
You will not find, you will not find!
There is no beast in the world,
Sly beast, scary beast,
Who can open this door,
This door, this door!
The wolf from the forest never,
Never ever
Will not return to us here,
To us here, to us here!"
Since then, the brothers began to live together, under the same roof.
That's all that we know about the three small piglets: Nif-Nif, Nuf-Nuf and Naf-Naf. Here and the tale Three Little Pigs is over, and who listened – well done!"
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