Let It Go: The American Woman (Denver Post Article)
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An article runs in the Entertainment & Lifestyles section of The Denver Post.

Let It Go: The American Woman, an interview with Magdalena Pogorelc
by Helen Montgomery

[candid shot of Magdalena in the middle of a mobile-thing from her last performance, Ascent, HDub welcome to expand on it if she likes! Her face is half-hidden]

In person, Magdalena Pogorelc - or Pogorelc-Smith, as she still was when we met for wine and cigars - does not match the picture of intense performance artist whose performances have on more than one occasion incited her audience to violence. She is a diminutive bottle blonde with doe-like eyes and a bright, even effervescent, sincerity. Yet if you're in the know and you've heard anything about Pogorelc's performances you've heard that Pogorelc's work is a challenging, and above all intense, experience. And maybe you've heard about the time an audience member, inspired by her recreation of Marina Abramovic's famous Rhythm 0 1974, flung a pot of boiling water directly at her.

"Many of the pieces I have performed in Denver have a strong audience participation aspect," Magdalena says, in a misleadingly innocent voice. "In many of my original pieces, audience members are encouraged to participate as they see fit, and sometimes people are very angry, or see it as permission to be cruel?" Magdalena often speaks in the form of questions. "But they must live with their choices. I have had stitches before from performance pieces, but," she laughs, "not as many as I have with working in clay. So all art has the potential for danger."

"Art comes from inspiration, and is made because the act of keeping it in hurts. […] Giving it to an audience is taking the private and vulnerable piece of yourself and offering it to others. You always wonder how audience will react, but you are sharing personal truths with people. Even in pottery."

The Poland-grown artist is surprisingly eloquent in English, her second language. I noted that most of the conversations her art seems to provoke seem to be themed around the idea of 'letting go.' What does Pogorelc want to let go?

Her answer: "The conversation of pottery is one grounded in purpose, while performance, fleeting, focuses more on the higher strata of Maslow's hierarchy of needs […] which ties in to what I would like to let go. I came to this country with the idea of what being an American woman meant. That I needed fancy hair and nice husband and that having this privileged life would make me realize the concept of the dream people have when they come here. I came seeking my happiness and my prosperity and my husband and I would have our perfect life, but I would like, most of all, to let go of my selfishness."

What does Pogorelc think it means to be an American woman now? "[…] I believe that American womanhood is to embrace being empowered and having choices. Poland is very traditional about what women do and […] do not do, being a woman in eastern Europe is not sunshine. American womanhood is choice and embracing choice and being unashamed of having ownership over one's self. I love Marshall, but there comes a time when, even though you love someone, you realize that they can not love you as a woman and instead love you as what the idea of a woman is. And his idea of wife is not wife who is partner. We were never equals."

Even with the shadow of divorce and some uncertainty about her status in this country, Magdalena remains upbeat. "If I cannot legally stay I will go home and try to come back again. I love Denver," she says, with a big smile.

And, sitting in Pogorelc's presence, musing on the contrast between what one expects and what one is faced with, one doesn't doubt her sincerity.

She has not yet immersed herself in the Colorado art scene but she does not hold herself aloof from it either. One doubts that Pogorelc can be aloof as she talks about fellow artists who inspire her. "I have a friend, she is a friend now," she says, with emphasis, "but she did keep an audience member from maiming me [and] brought about summer and winter on the walls of the stage I'd made. And she goes by Lux. […] Her painting takes my breath away. […] Killian at Juniper Leaf gallery, he painted portraits of Persephone in pomegranate juice […] I was Andromeda galaxy for an installation. He is a delightful man."

Her future plans include recruiting like-minded artists for a traveling exhibit for a few months. To this end, Pogorelc has given the paper permission to post her contact information, found at the bottom of this article. "I love art," Pogorelc says, "because it is synthesis of my wants and the act of giving to others. Performance creates a sense of us with dozens of strangers."

[January 5th, 2015]
[Helen's blog and e-mail address]
[Magdalena Pogorelc's name and e-mail address]
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