Synkroniciti is elated over our new cover! The winner of the Curiosity Cover Art Contest is Elzbieta Zdunek with her digital collage “Applause.” It is sleek and eye-catching–it is also extremely thought-provoking. It captures well the darker, more introspective mood that is dominating the submissions we are reading for the upcoming “Curiosity” issue. Thanks to everyone who contributed we are only a few submissions shy of the record “Wild” set a few months ago and “Curiosity” is a much more abstract and elusive subject. There were two finalists for the cover: “Floating” by Binoy Paul and “Applause.”
“Applause” is a digital collage delivered in grayscale, which creates a stark, ominous tone. We see a cluster of female mannequins standing together in a warehouse-like room, shipping boxes on the floor. One box is open, stuffed full of masks. A wind-up phonograph sits atop the unopened boxes. There is a new mannequin joining the group through the open door in the back. Note that this mannequin, as well as the one on the far left, has her arms across her stomach in a protective gesture. We wonder, are they cold, sick, or afraid? You’ll notice that the one on the left is being supported or comforted (or perhaps coerced?) by her neighbor, who has her arm around her. We can’t read faces because there aren’t any, but we can guess at the body language. The nature of Elzbieta’s work is that you can see all sorts of meaning here, but what you see depends on the story you bring to the work.
For me, there is so much to unpack in this collage about female empowerment and human nature. The masks we wear as women and as humans in general, the “music” we follow…where do these things come from and how do we know when we are truly free or if we are simply following another of patriarchy’s plans, laid down long ago? Women have fought so hard to be recognized as full people with unique hopes and dreams, only to arrive in a cold, bare place. The only comforting thing we have is each other in this brave, new world and the kindness and support we show one another (or the cruelty if we don’t). This isn’t enough to give us standing, though, we remain for the most part faceless and unrecognized as men of wealth contemplate whether we deserve the freedoms we have gained and how much autonomy they should allow us. What does this say about the future of other groups fighting for recognition and the capacity of patriarchy to change? What does it say about the value of the individual in the modern, corporate system?
Elzbieta Zdunek, originally from Poland, is a surrealist collage artist specializing in digital, predominantly grayscale, compositions which closely imitate and emanate from the textures and visual techniques used in the traditional, analog collage practice. She seeks to indicate one essential, overarching lesson to viewers of her work: that there is no such thing as objective perspective and this multi-dimensionality of events is created by the various differing natures of our relationships in regard to them. She wants the viewers to question all that they see, from the technique used to the relationships between the objects and characters to the choice and agency they have.