Tereuma

Artist: cecilia ömalm krajcikova Tags: Permanent art

One of the most beautiful words is biodiversity. Rich in life forms. The biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) amassed a fortune in remarkable life forms in his work Art Forms of Nature (1904), where overwhelmingly ornamental marine fossils and creatures such as the radiolaria, medusas and anemones vie for space, until he has outlined all the creational patterns and variations. Cecilia Ömalm Krajcikova has for many years created richly architectonic pictorial worlds haunted by organic ornaments culled from Haeckel’s visual stock. His mysterious biology has also inspired Krajcikova’s jellyfish-like tempietto, Tereuma. In a place that was once on the bottom of the sea, it now tries its strength in a new medium, protectively heavy, swelling tall, yet vulnerable.

Linnaeus gave all jellyfish the collective name medusa in 1752. But what do they care, these creatures who have inhabited the seas, nameless and unclassified, for more than 500 million years? They are the oldest form of multi-organ animals, but are very different: One and the same surface constitutes nervous system, skin and intestinal tissue, depending on whether it is turned inwards or outwards, and some species have four brains, which compete for the animal’s reactive system but also give it 360 degree vision.

After coming across Haeckel’s imagery, it is impossible to ever regard an ornament of the kind we encounter in architecture without seeing it as a life form that passes through the room infinitely slowly, pressing itself through walls, squeezing through openings, winding itself along friezes and skirting boards and wallowing resiliently for centuries in its battle against the orthogonal space. Like marine creatures in the course of transforming themselves into amphibians to venture onto the shore. In the same way that the theory of evolution describes the stages of development, there is an idea of hierarchical order in the word “ornament”; the first part, ordo, attempts to subordinate ornament to the structural architecture. Life forms develop through adaptation to the environment, thus giving us the multitude that Haeckel gathered and mythologised in his mighty tomes, enriched by the complexity of creation but incapable of controlling it entirely. Krajcikova liberates Tereuma from its banishment to ornamentation on the surface of architecture. Tereuma is an ornament that has conquered the space by becoming a form of architecture itself, a portrayal of a rite of passage between diversity and artistic ingenuity.

Malin Zimm