Justyna Wencel Earth, Earth
12.12.2014 – 08.02.2015 Justyna Wencel Earth, Earth
artust: Justyna Wencel
curator: Magda Kardasz
cooperation: Karolina Bielawska
Justyna Wencel has called her exhibition at the Zachęta Project Room Earth, Earth. This is also the title of her most recent work, a three-channel video installation. Screened on the gallery’s underground level, in a space conducive to attentive reception, the film was made in 2014 and documents an artistic action begun a year earlier. Called Open Jazdów, its purpose was to bring to public attention a doomed idyllic enclave of verdure and wooden houses in downtown Warsaw. The artist had been given access to a small garden, and what she did there (‘laboratory of spatial forms’) is documented in the video. Laboriously pressing earth through a sieve; using it to fill concrete pots arranged in a labyrinthine order and then raking its surface into regular patterns; finally, attempting to negotiate the labyrinth by walking barefoot along the edges of the pots. Time was an important element of the recorded actions, semi-meditative as they were – the idea was to record a process of transformation, a striving for perfect form, which was ultimately defeated, however, by the unpredictable elements.
The opposition between our natural inclinations, our relationship with nature or precisely (the) earth, and the rules imposed by society; art as a magical practice able to affect the surrounding world and the artist herself, and able to enchant reality – these have been some of the key themes of Wencel’s practice, and they are also present in her latest video installation. Public-space work, involved in the local historical and social context, and a preoccupation with small-scale urban architecture (including monuments) have marked her path from the very beginning.
The artist is also showing four of her earlier works, dealing with themes such as our relationship with nature, time, transience and rebirth, family ties, or gender. Their protagonist (Wencel herself) is shown performing what looks like meditations or rites of passage, a cross between folklore and magic. The Map (2009) and the videos: Tree (2010), Hell Heaven (2010) and Hereditary Traits (2012) were conceived in the artist’s family home and garden (at a particularly difficult time in her life) using various objects associated with her family members, including departed or departing ones. The former two films document performances centred around a ‘magical tree’, performances, as the artist tells us, inspired by rituals of sympathetic magic, well rooted in many cultures of the world. For Wencel, earth is something that gives birth and buries.
The exhibition is accompanied by an environment consisting of objects specially created for the occasion using technical components, modified parts of machines usually associated with the masculine world. (In 2012, Wencel had created a series of objects alluding to the traditional notions of the feminine world, titled Place Called Home). The objects resemble exhibits from an archaeology museum, votive figures or fertility idols, sometimes bringing to mind abstract or minimalist sculptures. The artist so writes about them: ‘The new forms are not objects in the purely aesthetic sense; rather they are waste products of a process of extraction and combination. In a search for the energy of objects and a form containing both elements – masculine and feminine.’
What the viewer of “Earth, Earth” will notice in Justyna Wencel’s new projects is, above all, a consistent search for a state of natural balance and a striving to remain true to oneself.
12.12.2014 – 08.02.2015
Zachęta Project Room
ul. Gałczyńskiego 3, 00-362 Warsaw
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Tuesday–Sunday 12–8 p.m.
sponsor of the Zachęta Project Room: Benq
sponsors of the opening ceremony: Freixenet, Chocolissimo
media patronge: The Warsaw Voice, Stolica, Artinfo.pl