CRVCCentre for Research in Visual Culture

A will to deform: Sherrie Levine; Jadwiga Sawicka; Witold Gombrowicz

Trent Building B46
Wednesday 13th December 2023 (16:00-18:00)

The reduction of art to text has long been a source of anxiety for the discipline of art history.

The privileging of content at the expense of form was the subject of Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘Against Interpretation’, a futile warning against the impulse ‘to set up a shadow world of “meanings” [and] to turn the world into this world’. Many years later, Sontag would write the foreword to an English translation of a novel that takes the inextricability of form and content as its primary subject: 'Ferdydurke' by the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, first published in 1937.

Marta Zboralska's presentation will consider two artists who turn to Gombrowicz to unmake the process of interpretation:

  • Sherrie Levine, in particular her work 'Diary' 2019
  • Jadwiga Sawicka, who paints new dust jackets for old books.

Arguing that both artists’ practices revolve around acts of deformation, Marta will ask what it means to turn text into art instead.

Dr Marta Zboralska is an incoming Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, where she will be working on a project titled 'Art After Witold Gombrowicz'. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Art Journal, Archives of American Art Journal, Third Text Online and Art Margins Online.


This talk is the part of the CRVC’s research theme for 2023 to 2024 '…and painting continues'.

Centre for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD