How I Made This: Monika Grzymala’s Tape Drawings in Space

Monika Grzymala is an installation artist who uses adhesive tape to document her movements in a specific place while constructing new, ephemeral boundaries and spaces. This Polish artist, based in Berlin, applies kilometers of tape within a single room. Moving from the walls to the floor and back again, she draws out taut parallel and overlapping lines; twirls hanging, chandelier-like tangles; and weaves swirling vortexes. Grzymala coined the term Raumzeichnung (German for “room drawing” or “drawing in space”) to describe her creative method and says it refers to “a space that creates its own drawing and vice versa, a drawing that creates its own space.”

Grzymala has worked in many genres, including paper making, sculpture, scenography, drawing, and animation. She considers herself a sculptor who draws. While one of her first mediums was stone, she says she now prefers “softer and more flexible materials that allow me to play more with organic shapes and forms.”

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Her integration of tape into her artworks began when one of her sketchbooks ran out of blank pages. She continued her drawing on the walls of her studio and then used tape to pull the lines out into the air and over to an adjacent wall. She uses a variety of tapes in her current works; her favorites are easily tearable black and white masking tapes. Her installation process generally lasts for a week or so, during which she often employs somewhere between 3 and 10 kilometers of tape, sometimes using a ladder to extend her reach.

Monika Grzymala, Raumzeichnung (der fremde Raum), 2016, 6.4 km silver metallic tape and black masking tape, installation view, Marta Museum, Herford, Germany. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“I consider my spatial drawings as thinking guided by the hand,” Grzymala says. She does not believe in correcting her pieces, choosing—like gestural abstractionists—to honestly record her movements. “I want the process of making the work to be as genuine and true as possible,” she says. She usually prefers to work on installations in solitude, though she has, at times, participated in interdisciplinary performances and created videos of her process.

Grzymala is now taking part in an exhibition called “FUTURA: Measuring Time” at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, a contemporary art museum in Hamburg, Germany. This exhibition is co-curated by Grzymala’s former professor Bogomir Ecker, whom she credits with helping her develop her unique 3D drawing practice and the term Raumzeichnung. Grzymala’s contribution to this exhibition is an installation called Raumzeichnung (Perpetuum Mobile) (2022).

Monika Grzymala, Raumzeichnung (Perpetuum Mobile), 2022, 3 km silver metallic tape,
installation view, Hamburger Kunsthalle Contemporary Museum, Hamburg, Germany. Photo courtesy of the artist.

For her site-specific works, Grzymala says she first visits the space and meets with the curators. She then plans out the piece in her studio through sketches and “smaller test pieces.” At Hamburger Kunsthalle, over the course of several days, she applied tape to the walls, windows, and floor of a corner of the gallery that faces Hamburg and Lake Alster. The piece’s three kilometers of silver metallic tape represent “three kilometers of touching this gallery space in the process of making [the] work,” she says. “The iridescent, reflective tape [changes] with the daylight. It relates to the reflective surface of the water you see through the window and the theme of the show: time and space in visual and philosophical aspects.”

During an installation, Grzymala’s works sometimes begin to sag or bend under their own weight, again embodying the constant change inherent in temporality. “I choose the ephemeral quality in my interventions because their limited lifetime is similar to our form of existence,” she says. She sometimes repurposes her materials after an installation, trying to reuse or recycle them whenever possible. She finds the process of creating and dismantling impermanent installations “fascinating. . . . It seems logical that my artworks don’t remain the same for longer than their exhibition, as I’m not the same person every day, and [I don’t always] look at the world from the same point of view.”


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