Stemming from a simple and wacky idea—that of creating pillar sculptures as ephemeral as the duration of her son's naps—Hungarian artist Csilla Klenyanszki creates a complete universe, full of both inventiveness and reflections on the modern feminine condition in the pages of a book she published herself.
About one half-hour: that’s how much time Csilla Klenyanszki had, while her son slept, to construct each of her pillar sculptures, i.e. stacks of everyday objects that form a column from floor to ceiling. With all the ingenuity that such a short amount of time demands, the young artist and mother builds her interior pillars with odds and ends to erect a support structure—symbolic and fragile—between the walls of her home. Pillars of Home brings together these sculptures that were patiently and so skillfully assembled and then photographed and classified by Csilla Klenyanszki.
A whimsical inventory
There are no less than 98 of these pillar sculptures conversing with each other in this little orange book whose tone is set right from its cover. The title of the opus, like its subject, is arranged vertically and made of letters pointing in all different directions. Inside, the photographs of the pillars are enjoyed one at a time, presented sometimes on their own, sometimes in pairs, on the blank pages of the book or on vibrantly colored flat tints.
Incongruous, surprising, and above all always cheerful, the photographs of the sculptures are an ode to everyday life and to a "home sweet home" that is full of potential and gradually emerges as the best breeding ground for a creativity as modest as it is fascinating. Here, all it takes is an overturned table, an orange and a parasol to go from the floor to the ceiling; here, all it takes is an open door that supports two vases of hydrangeas, which in turn support a sponge, a pair of scissors and a tea towel. And here the complex balance of chairs, plant and vegetables, bottles, stepladder and rolling pin allows for the ascent to be carried out. Last but not least, what better tool than the body itself, whether extended or folded over, to ensure the sturdiness of a column? Csilla Klenyanszki joyfully plays along to complete often hilarious pillars, sometimes trying to blend into them like camouflage. The 98 lessons are full of tips and discoveries the reader's gaze never tires of and instead ends up wanting more of.
Pillars of Home cannot be disassociated from its playful or even humorous aspect, which is the spirit in which the book is meant to be leafed through. Beyond this regressive pleasure, this beautiful little work is as intelligent in form as it is in substance. Csilla Klenyanszki's staged photography offers a glimpse of a polished and controlled process, which denotes the conventions of a genre reminiscent of the work of photographer Elina Brotherus or those of videographer Claude Cattelain. The humble and repetitive form of the edition highlights a creativity that is fueled by sobriety, always eager for new assemblies that will exceed the limits of gravity or absurdity.
While it takes next to nothing for all these sculptures to become reality, Pillars of Home also thumbs its nose at a stay-at-home and not very gratifying vision of motherhood. Constrained by the time period of her son's naps, Csilla Klenyanszki turns it into a committed stance and a creative engine, refusing to see her role as a mother and the home environment as a space in which her art deteriorates. It is from this formal and reflexive richness that Pillars of Home draws all its flavor, and it encourages readers to revisit it more than once. The book makes you want to go find all sorts of hard-to-balance instruments for a floor to ceiling pillar that could give a facelift to your own interiors. Something to liven up long winter evenings, while making sure the pillar doesn't collapse!
By Anne Laurens
Pillars of Home, Csilla Klenyanszki
148 pages, 14.5 x 21 cm