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Our practice is based in London (UK) and Warsaw (PL)
Marcin Rusak (born in 1987, Warsaw, Poland) is an artist and multidisciplinary designer interested in ideas of value, ephemerality and aesthetics. Specializing in storytelling, process and material investigation his work often incorporates research, object and installation as well as visual creations to explore overlooked details of our lives which recreated and re-imagined are shown again in a different light.
As the son and grandson of flower growers he has long been fascinated by these natural sources of inspiration and decoration. Engaging them in his creative process began by reusing waste to investigate new decorative elements within every day objects and led to a rich body of work ranging from research and storytelling to cultural criticism around consumption and future scenarios.
Decaying and ageing materials have an important place in my practice. I develop them from organic ingredients in order to create objects that have an element of life on their own. Through research, craft, and utilization of new technology, I try to embrace a complex approach to art in order to re-evaluate objects and their significance while celebrating the organic outcome of natural materials and processes.
When the family history of over 100 years of flower growers in central Warsaw ended with my birth, I felt there was nothing of a grower in myself. What I remember from growing up in my family home surrounded by abandoned glass houses is mostly their textured and rough industrial materiality and the presence of disappearance and decay at every step I took while constantly exploring their ghostly landscapes – glass, dry air, warmth, rust, zinc planters, pipes, machines, pumps, and multiple structures of unknown functionality. Filled with archaeological like discoveries, they remained quiet and empty but almost opulent in their multiple traces of living elements from bacteria, to weeds and dry soil evident in every metal container. Glass houses, where the life and growth of nature is controlled, became synonymous with a personal history intertwined with the impermanent nature of the material world and memories alike.
From my family flower business to traditional works of art and craft that rely heavily on floral motifs, such as a carved wooden wardrobe that I grew up with, we, the human race, seem to have an enduring obsession with flowers. This interest was sparked further by a trip to the London flower market and witnessing the huge amount of discarded flowers lying around. I started collecting and processing them- as a reference to how often we use nature as inspiration in creating decoration but how rarely we actually use nature itself as decoration. This led to printing textiles with flowers in a self-developed analogue technique and extending their lives by another couple of months or years as the print is quite ephemeral, just like flowers. I was intrigued by the enduring appreciation of floral motifs and investigated it further.
Once the flowers fulfil our decorative or symbolic needs, they become unwanted and discarded reminiscence of life. Treated and processed, through my materials, they regain significance and become part of a work which refers to their very temporary nature. I use them as a medium to talk about consumption where I investigate the flower production landscape, (Flower Monster, 2014) and other times I use them as a material itself, (Waste Flower Textiles 2014-2015, Flora Collection 2015-2018). In suspending floral and vegetal matter within the resin, I allow the material to retain its authentic and genuine qualities. In the last couple of years, I developed two materials, Flora Perma and Flora Temporaria. Flora Temporaria produces a surface in which the flowers are completely submerged in resin creating an intriguing depth. Objects made with Flora Temporaria become part of our lives while contributing a subtle nature of their own. The main component is flowers, which once unwanted and discarded, now processed and treated- turn into almost lifelike tissue. These unique and complex surfaces mesmerize, recalling the 17th century Flemish still life paintings while the overall piece remains grounded in its form’s simplicity. Flora Perma machines the surface length-wise, resulting in fascinating cross-sections of flowers. In Flora Perma, the decoration is not interpreted but comes from nature itself. Here, flowers are „frozen in time” and machined in order to reveal the complex and intricate beauty found in the cross-section of flowers, the curve of petals, and the structure of leaves. Contrasted with black resin they appear as veins or fossils creating an almost stone-like quality.
Simultaneously concerned with our culture of consumption and waste, I had this sense that there was a logic to employing actual natural material, in this case, flowers, as the source of aesthetics to make objects that have greater meaning. Perishable pieces (Perishable Vases, 2014-2018) reflect on the consumerism culture, their ephemeral quality is achieved through the material they are made of – organic waste (flowers), shellac, beeswax, and resin (at times also flour, sugar or sand are incorporated). Through natural conditions such as (high) temperature and humidity, the objects start to transform – they melt, collapse and rot. Just like objects of everyday use, which are often designed with planned obsolescence (printers, phones, cars), these sculptures also have a limited lifespan dictated by the natural processes that overtake them. The organic material that I invented and composed, enables to reflect on the contemporary consumerism culture, exposing and embracing the processes of decay, destruction, renewal, and reconstruction through these perishable and ephemeral objects.
Over time the sculptures integrate with the artificial (supporting) materials forcing ‚life’ onto them. The objects gain heterogeneous and ambiguous qualities. The blend of organic matter that they are composed of allows their performative and unpredictable qualities. Perishable pieces is thus an installation in constant flux that completes itself in the process. It was important for me to highlight the process of decay and make it equal to the process of transformation and creation. To make it an experience where impermanence, change, and chance are celebrated. It initiates this almost uncomfortable desire of wanting to preserve it, no matter what. It creates a non-physical relation which lasts as long as we consciously foster it. It is the objects we value that will outgrow the every day and become representatives of our times.
- 2018 The U-50 International Hokuriku Kogei Awards, Excellence Award, Toyama, Japan
- 2018 Mazda Design Award. Recipient. Warsaw, Poland
- 2017 The Arts Foundation Award: Shortlisted. London, UK
- 2016 The Architecture Digest Design Award: Recipient. Berlin, Germany
- 2016 Hospital Club 100 Award: Nomination. London, UK
- 2016 Wallpaper Design Award 2016 Recipient. London, UK
- 2015 Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize 2015 Recipient London, UK
- 2015 Research In Making Award: Decorex Recipient. London UK
- 2015 Decorex Future Heritage Foundation: Receipient. London, UK
- 2014 Brilliant – Eddie Mundy award – nomination. London, UK
- 2014 Moving Minds: Sustain RCA Award Recipient. London, UK
Talks, Residencies and Workshops
- 2019 Workshop: Unnatural Processes – Domaine de Boisbuchet, Lessac, France
- 2019 Residency: Encoded Symbols – InResidence, Turin, Italy
- 2019 Talk: Unnatural Processes – Designtransfer, UDK, talk. Berlin, Germany
- 2018 Talk: Creating Precious and Inspiring Design Pieces from Simple Material- Maison&Objet, talk. Paris, France
- 2018 Talk: Unnatural Processes – Brussels Design September, talk. Brussels, Belgium
- 2018 Talk: Unnatural Processes – Łódź Design Festival, talk. Łódź, Poland
- 2016 Talk: Luxury? Frankly, I Don’t give a damn: Ravensbourne University, talk. London, UK
- 2016 Talk: The Making Process – The American University, talk. 2016. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- 2105 Talk: Creating Narratives: University of Gothenburg, talk. Gothenburg, Sweden
- 2019 White Perma: Sarah Myerscough Gallery, Design Miami, Miami, USA
- 2018 Nature of Things II: Horta Museum, Brussels, Belgium
- 2017 Flora Noir: Twenty First Gallery, New York, USA
- 2015 Inflorescence and Other Artefacts: Contemporary Applied Arts, London
Selected Group Exhibitions
- 2019 Collect, Sarah Myerscough Galler. London, UK
- 2019 FOG Art Fair, Sarah Myerscough Gallery. San Francisco, USA
- 2018 Time Within Time: Verbeke Foundation. Kemzeke, Belgium
- 2018 Design Miami: Sarah Myerscough Gallery. Miami, USA.
- 2018 The Salon Art + Design: Sarah Myerscough Gallery. New York, USA
- 2018 Art House, Designblok, Prague, Czech Repubilc
- 2018 Decorex Future Heritage. London, UK
- 2018 Botanic Psyche duo show with Marlene Huissoud: Spazio Nobile Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
- 2017 Hokuriku Kogei Summit: “WORLDS KOGEI 100”: Toyama Museum of Art and Design, Toyama, Japan
- 2017 The Salon Art + Design: Twenty First Gallery. New York, USA
- 2017 Jerwood Makers: Jerwood Visual Arts, London, UK
- 2017 Rising Talents Award: Maison & Objet, Paris, France
- 2016 Design Miami Basel: Nature Lab. Miami, USA
- 2016 handiCRAFT: Traditional Skills in the Digital Age: MAK Vienna, Austria
- 2016 London Design Festival: British Craft Pavilion. London, UK
- 2016 Breathless: London Design Festival. London, UK
- 2016 Design Miami Basel: Nature Lab. Basel, Switzerland
- 2016 Design Days Dubai: Crafts Council. Dubai, UAE
- 2015 What Is Luxury?: V&A, London, UK
- 2015 Ready, Made, Go: ACE Hotel Shoreditch, London, UK
- 2015 Future Heritage: Decorex. London, UK
- 2015 Biennale internationale Design. Saint-Étienne, France
- 2015 Concerning Plants: Select Festival, London, UK