A critical biography of artist Magda Stawarska via a series of journeys—from the streets of Istanbul to the canals of Venice and across the waters of Zanzibar.
For nearly two decades, Polish-born, UK-based artist Magda Stawarska has explored the threshold of memory, the sanctioned shape of history, and the active experience of listening. Through sound and performance, moving image, photography, painting, and printmaking, the artist unfolds overlooked and contested narratives of the past through her practice of “inner listening”.
Stawarska's distinct approach to artmaking often begins with explorations of cities. Traversing self-directed routes, the artist has often been compared to a flaneur—moving through each site, cultivating a rhythmic score that reveals a densely layered urban topography. These situated scenes become the basis for a distinct form of language—one of conjured imaginaries. The artist and her carefully chosen collaborators unbuckle the seams of the aural landscape, using personal reflection and language, which the artist uses to create installations that constellate active feelings.
These processes evolve, layer upon layer, in the studio and in the public realm, illuminating a palimpsest of dissonance: A discordant score that pierces the very concept of time. In this book, author and curator Omar Kholeif, offers an introductory field guide into the artist's practice. Structured as a travelogue through Stawarska's various journeys, readers will venture from the streets of Istanbul to the canal sides of Venice to the waters of Zanzibar. The second volume in the Imagine Otherwise series, Kholeif argues that in Magda Stawarska's art, one can find the specificity and detail of the ocular in the field and tempo of listening.
Concluded with an afterword by Turner-Prize winning artist, Lubaina Himid CBE RA.
Published by Sternberg Press in collaboration with artPost21
Dr. Omar Kholeif is an author, curator, broadcaster, cultural historian, and Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE. They have curated more than 70 exhibitions and authored or co-authored more than 40 books on contemporary art. Dr. Kholeif is the founder of artPost21, a cultural agency that supports creative practices at the nexus of art and social justice. Their notable titles include You Are Here: Art After the Internet; Goodbye, World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age; In the Heart of Another Country; and Internet_Art: From the Birth of the Web to the Rise of NFTs.
Over the course of her career, Lubaina Himid has expanded the possibilities of painting—fashioning scenes that redress the contour and confine of history painting, un-stretching a historically male-dominated field, positing new frames of imagination and cultural reference. Born in Zanzibar in 1954, Lubaina Himid is Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. She is the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize and the 2024 Suzanne Deal Booth | Flag Art Foundation Prize.