Welcome to a screening followed by a conversation between Victoria Verseau and Natalia Sielewicz, art historian and curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
”A Ghost’s Gaze is an attempt to approach the memory of my friend Meril and our time together, far away from home in a remote city in Thailand. Meril and I met when we were about to undergo gender confirmation surgery, something we had longed for most of our lives. We awaited an uncertain future and supported each other in our worries. Three years after the operation, Meril decided to end her life. She was my only other trans-friend and I had always mirrored myself in her. Then and there, I felt my world fall apart. We both longed for a partner and the love we had never experienced.
A Ghost’s Gaze, Victoria Verseau, 2015 – 2022. Video 20 min 27 sec.
Seven years after we first met, I decided to travel back to the city in Thailand. I brought my camera with the intention of capturing the memory of us. I returned to the quiet hotel where we stayed months after the surgery to heal. The worn-down hospital, the hotel, the tidal lands in the outskirts of the city, packages of used hormone pills, dilators, make-up and razors, all emanated a condition between life and death.
There, I realized that my self-perception had changed and the elapsed time had affected my recollections, so instead of finding us, I found a void after us. The people I knew were gone. Left was only the familiar scenery with backdrop-looking buildings, streets, and nature slowly taking over; to it, the absence of our presence. I was caught by the empty environments that seemed like places stuck between reality and dream. A place beyond, where the dimension began vibrating towards a dissolved spatiality.
Through A Ghost’s Gaze, I have found the means to address existential concerns, such as what is left after someone is gone and years later when everything has changed. Always anxious to speak out loud, I have found my voice, even by whispering. ”
Text by Victoria Verseau
Victoria Verseau work in various media ranging from moving images to sculpture, large-scale installation and performance. Her artistic practice examines the body and memory formation, shaping identity through the affection of social structures. She seeks to tell untold stories, remaining in the periphery towards oblivion. Approaching destructive forgetfulness, she attempts to capture, preserve and reconstruct the fleeting memories of crucial times that shape subjectivities. Her personal experiences of being a trans and new woman is often a starting point. Based on her own story, she strives to process existential issues; who we are, why we are and who we want to be. Victoria Verseau lives and works in Stockholm where she graduated with an MFA from the Royal Institute of Art in 2020. Verseaus has held solo exhibitions including Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for Women Like Us, Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2022); Approaching a Ghost, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2021); Engender my Past, Uppsala Konstmuseum (2021). Her work Approaching a Ghost (2021) has been exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery, London; Ballroom Marfa, Texas; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Para Site, Hong Kong; Foundation Proa, Buenos Aires, Argentina; KWM Artcenter, Beijing, China; and Project 88, Mumbai India. In 2017, Victoria Verseau was the first trans woman to be awarded the ANNA Award, established by Women in Film and Television (WIFT) Sweden and UN Women Sweden, for her work with film.
Natalia Sielewicz is an art historian and curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In her exhibitions and essays, she addresses the issues of feminism, affect culture, biopolitics, and technology. The curator of the exhibitions: Fedir Tetyanych. The Neverending Eye (2022), The Dark Arts. Aleksandra Waliszewska and Symbolism of the East and North (2022, co-curated together with Alison Gingeras), Agnieszka Polska. The One-Thousand Year Plan (2021), Paint also known as Blood. Women, Affect, and Desire in Contemporary Painting (2019), Hoolifemmes (2017), an exhibition problematizing performativity and dance as tools of female resistance, the exhibition Ministry of Internal Affairs. Intimacy as Text (2017) on affect and the poetics of confession in literature and visual arts. She also curated Private Settings (2014), one of the first institutional exhibitions examining the impact of Internet 2.0 on the human condition in the age of late capitalism, and the exhibition Bread and Roses. Artists and the Class Divide (2015, with Łukasz Ronduda).