Matter of the Anthropocene 2019

The Artists:

Katarzyna Depta-Garapich
Diana Lelonek
Małgorzata Markiewicz
Mateusz Szczypiński

Curated by: Małgorzata Markiewicz

Mathare Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya

“Matter of the Anthropocene” exhibition was constructed as a collection of my fascinations. It stems
from a search for a way of working with remnants of human pursuits – with leftovers, with
unwanted elements, scrapped or rejected, with what is raw and amorphous. The aim of the action I
plan to undertake during my stay in Kenya together with the inhabitants of Nairobi is to create a
fabric, in a broad sense of the word. I imagine that we can use such methods as plaiting, binding,
overlapping, stitching, crocheting, knitting, and felting. For now, my attention is directed towards
the search for the methodology of the process itself. The exhibition brings together inspirations –
the works by three other artists, two women and one man, who seem to be close to the method in
which I intend to work. For now, it remains intuitive. I have invited Kasia Garapich, Diana Lelonek
and Mateusz Szczypiński to show their work, to which I added some photographs of my own

What brings together the selected works is a phenomenon happening somewhere on the edge;
between that which is organic, natural, close to the body and physicality, and that which is the
result of the production process, hard angles, toxic waste and the scraps of consumer culture.

I visited Nairobi twice before, and I remember the heaps of trash, piled up on the roadside and on
the slopes of Mathare slum, sometimes burning with intense flame, sometimes barely smouldering,
exuding toxic smoke. Consecutive layers of the garbage/elements are stacked one on top of the
other, thus creating a foundation for the city/slum. Matter of the Anthropocene. (Nearly two years
ago, Kenya introduced a total ban on plastic carrier bags – therefore it is likely that they will have
solved the problem sooner and more efficiently than the EU).

At the exhibition I show the methods of working with raw material – in one case, sheep’s wool, 100
kg of which Kasia Garapich manually converted into fabric by means of felting, and then made into
clothes/cocoon and a hammock. The method of combining individual layers of raw wool in the
process of prolonged tedious work seems magical. Felting can be used not only to create a sheet
of fabric, but also to patch the holes in existing clothes, where a new element subtly penetrates the
old damaged items of one’s wardrobe, as if healing the wound. My work from 2004, titled IT, is also
made of layers of used clothes, piled on top of each other from the smallest to the largest size; it
grew like a tree with its growth rings, at which point I cut it, and the layers appeared before our

In Diana Lelonek’s “Textile environments”, the textile garbage is overgrown with a tangle of
numerous plant roots. It is the “nature” that binds and simultaneously degrades the abandoned
element of human clothing. Layers of soil, grass, soiled rubbish hidden in the forest, become
“nourishment” for a new life.

These aspects can be attributed to each of the creative methods in the works I selected.
In the title of the paintings by Mateusz Szczypiński – “(Un)natural increase” – uncontrolled growth
is signalled: density of elements, leading to a sense of lack of space. Similarly to the Mathare
Valley, the unrestrained growth of slum housing resembles the scenery of the artist’s works, and
the piling, overlapping layers of garbage where goats graze and life goes on become yet another
testimony of our being on this planet – a testimony of “(un)natural increase”.

I also chose to show “Crosswords” by the same author, because they look like a plait of colourful
stripes of material. I can see here the connection with my own works created during the residency
at the Tatra Museum in Zakopane in February this year. During my stay in the Podhale Region, I
tried working in the traditional leathercraft method, producing webbing belts with a dominant motif
of a plait. Using a similar method, “coatlets” were made from the remnants of skins obtained at the
leather factory. These scraps, destined for disposal, were woven into visually and haptically
desirable forms.

All of the methods here described are literally or metaphorically suitable for the creation of new
matter: the matter of the Anthropocene.

* The artist writing this text is aware of the larger environmental and political context, of social
inequities and the whole post-colonial baggage. She did not address all these aspects, as in the
creative process she seeks and describes here she is primarily concerned with the “meat” of the