The unique geological structure of Parian marble allowed ancient sculptors to shape the most sensuous of human forms.

In this exhibition, recent mothers Justyna Borucka and Cat Vitebsky respond to MOCA’s cast collection via a return to the original marble quarry on Paros, the source of the marble from which so many ancient Greek masterpieces were sculpted. Theirs is a return, also, to the human figure through the idea of topos (in Greek, τόπος), exploring layers of time and transformation in myth, in the material of the marble itself, and in the worldview of the people of Paros today.

Together, they interrogate the varied implications of the hardness of rock and the soft curves of the idealised body in classical sculpture, by exploring parallels between the marks of the quarrying process on the body of the earth and the scars on the landscape of their own post-partum bodies – and, through the prism of bodily archetypes and the challenges of womanhood, question the canons of beauty inherited from classical origins.

The artists incorporate both plaster and Cycladic marble dust in the very substance of their work to explore the Parian topos, revealing a multi-layered landscape where past and present meanings intertwine.

Vitebsky draws parallels between the postpartum bodies and the scars left by the quarrying process on the landscape of Paros, from which so many of the original marble sculptures were hewn, while Borucka brings into direct contact the topos of the ancient marble quarries with MOCA’s plaster cast collection, at the molecular level itself, through works which turn the matter of the landscape into the materiality of her art.

Paros Creatives
Justyna Borucka and Cat Vitebsky are both founding members of Paros Creatives, a unique collaborative project of all-female members working across and between both Greece and the UK. They met as students at the University of the Arts, London in 2006, where they questioned the rejection of humanism and beauty in modernist and postmodernist artistic practices. In 2019 they created the collective Paros Creatives, which has since expanded into an exciting female-led, collaborative interdisciplinary project exploring the Parian marble quarry and its surrounding landscapes through the lens of beauty, womanhood and motherhood.

The Paros Creatives are:

Justyna Borucka, mixed-media artist
Cat Vitebsky, sculptor
Maria Birmpili, geologist
Moshoula Capous-Desyllas, sociologist
Anastasia Kanli, philologist
Vassia Katsirea, videographer
Elena Symeonidou, ecologist

About the Artists behind Topos Embodied
Justyna Borucka, mixed-media artist
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Borucka spent her early years in Milan, Italy. From 2001 to 2010 she lived and worked in London, UK where in 2009 she graduated with a BA (Hons) from University of the Arts, London. During this time her focus was on an experimental approach to painting infused by her interest in land art, material manipulation and object making. She later moved her studio to the Greek islands (Skyros, Andros, Mykonos) and has resided permanently in Paros since 2018. Her new forthcoming solo exhibition, curated by Giuliano Serafini, will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of archaeological excavations at the ancient site of Delos, Cyclades.

Cat Vitebsky, sculptor
Born in the UK, Vitebsky travelled from a young age on family ethnographic field trips to Northeastern Siberia, living with migrating reindeer herders. In the early 2000’s she studied as apprentice to a renowned bronze caster in the UK and spent several years mastering the craft. She graduated in 2009 BA (Hons) from the University of the Arts, London where her main focus was around post-holocaust memorialisation, acts of remembering, intergenerational mourning and the counter-memorial or anti-monument movement. Part of this research investigated the widespread rejection of figurative representation in postwar Europe. Since this she has been working in Cambridge (UK) as a freelance sculptor and workshop facilitator.

This project would not have been possible without the brilliance and passion of our Paros Creatives collaborators. We would therefore like to express huge thanks to all of our contributors whose invaluable input, compassion and dedication enable this project to continue to grow. Special mention is owed to Moshoula Capous-Desyllas and Piers Vitebsky for their unwavering support and guidance, together with kind words of encouragement. Local workshop participants and quarry guides have made this all possible and given us colourful inspiration for the project. With special mention to Tassos the stonemason in the quarry at Marathi, as well as local experts Spyros Mitroyiannis and Dr Ioannis Georganas of the Hellenic International Studies in the Arts (HISA). Huge thanks are also due to Yuko Yamauchi from HISA and Paulien Lethen from the Holland Tunnel Gallery, for their generous support of the project and for hosting our exhibition and workshop in Paroikia, Paros in 2022. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to Dr Susanne Turner and the brilliant team at MOCA for supporting our show with enthusiasm, professionalism and kindness.