The Second I Was Born,
I Was A Walking Eulogy
Installation (Floating shelf, Handkerchief, Rosary, Booklet, iPad)
In Spiljak’s installation The Second I Was Born, I Was A Walking Eulogy, encapsulates her own
rendition of a praying space that weaves together narratives in the form of precious objects and
video as a way to connect to her own vulnerable experiences and passing thoughts as
first-generation Polish-Canadian woman. The installation set-up assembles religiously significant
objects supposed to resemble a prayer corner, normally set up as an intimate physical space
reserved for morning prayers. These memorabilia are often seen at home by the women in
Spiljak’s family. A prayer corner in a domestic space, like a home, is used to remind one to
commit to the Catholic faith.
The carefully selected objects provide context to the dedication and connection to Catholicism
that these women had despite its historical and biblical beliefs that objectify and ostracize them.
Most of these objects are handmade; the floral Polish handkerchief that passed down from my
grandmother, the rosary with pistachios and the sewn poetry booklet. The video performance on
the tablet depicts Spiljak wearing a traditional Polish folk garment sewing while reciting the
words taken from the poetry booklet. She embodies and performs as her mother, her
grandmother, her mother’s mother and her mother’s mother. Weaving these experiences, with the
stories of her maternal ancestors, Spiljak is reclaiming her identity and autonomy from
patriarchal control. Sewing slowly, becomes a powerful act that is counterproductive to the
capitalist agenda. She questions looking at possible futures beyond systems that promote
burnout, exhaustion, dissociation by looking to our personal histories. Could we look to our own
communities as a form of healing? In what ways can indoctrination link to governance of bodies?
How can we honor the maternal figures in our family who have been conditioned by religious or
family values, unpaid labour and the societal gender roles surrounding their upbringing? In what
ways does this affect us as daughters of immigrant parents? By recreating these precious,
domesticated objects, Spiljak envelopes a love letter for the women in her family while weaving
and forming new histories that connect and create new values for the future generation of women
Veronica Spiljak (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Mississauga, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe First Nations. She completed her BFA at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College’s joint Art & Art History program in 2021. Spiljak combines text, drawing, sculpture, writing, video, installation, and performance to create artworks that facilitate collaborative, tactile and immersive experiences. She borrows found footage, photos, audio clips, archives, words or phrases of certain moments and actions that cause her discomfort, anxiety, or a passing thought that reflects and connects her experience as a first-generation Polish-Canadian woman. Spiljak has exhibited locally, including shows at the Blackwood Gallery, U of T Art Museum, Women’s Art Association of Canada, the Tiny Fist Gallery and Visual Arts Mississauga. She is currently a candidate for her MFA at York University.