de Spiegel, 05’10”, 2018
As a way of footnoting the video I assembled a series of texts which was also my thesis in the Piet Zwart Institute in 2018. Cafe de Spiegel. Writing in loops is available here as a PDF.
de Spiegel, collaboration with Maciej Nowacki, Galeria :Skala, Poznań, 2018
photos by Tomasz Koszewnik
de Spiegel (The Mirror)
In order to find the right starting point for addressing the collaborative work of Marta Hryniuk and Maciej Nowacki, we need first to question the ideals of the avant-garde – which today does not seem a particularly difficult task – and (once again) refashion a world that seems to offer us only unfulfilled promises and remnants. Their considerations are retrospective in nature; they seek to bring together isolated fragments, which – in order to exist at all – must exist together: artefacts, mythologized artistic postures, historical displays; in a word, traces and remnants that bring to mind tremendous power, and even utopia.
By reaching back to the past, do they make it easier to ascertain their own place in the present? Or, if by being in the present, are they once again experiencing the past, reconstructing a somewhat romantic and fragmentary view of it, one which reveals a distance to the ideas referenced rather than a fixation with forms that embody the historical past? Belaboring unkept promises may seem like a form of psychological work on the subject, which will be reconstituted anew thanks to the knowledge they are able to attain and which seemed previously inaccessible. In the film being shown in the gallery (Marta Hryniuk, de Spiegel, 2018), the protagonists gathered on both sides of the bar counter are speaking several languages, all of which exist alongside one another in the presented space. We are unsure whether there is some form of understanding between them, one derived from a shared experience of empathy, or if they are merely all present in the same place at the same time. We are also unsure whether the song being sung is a personal story or a voice representing the collective subject. The shared presence of narrative in both the film and the gallery space is easier to understand if we look at it as multiplied reflected mirror images. Wherever it is multiplied and reflected, we can see an accumulation of historical meanings.
This is not the first situation in which the artists (Hryniuk and Nowacki) have decided to put a common set of principles into practice together, sharing their doubts and producing artistic work by means of “the hands of another”. The perception of the avant-garde as having failed to fulfil the promises it made is symptomatic of contemporary readings of it and commentary on it. However, in the situation with which we are dealing in gallery: SKALA, contestation is not the main goal. The reconstruction of the obtained elements, the observations and remnants now “circulating in a single space”, produces a picture that will be incomplete because it was never a whole in the past.