Artists: Andrea Mtz. del Delmuro, Maciej Gąbka, Baltazar Fajto, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Olga Kowalska, Diana Lelonek i Marek Kucharski, Lilia Luganskaia, Piotr Pardiak, Michał Peplak, Max Radawski, Araks Sahakyan, Katarzyna Wąsowska
Curator: Paulina Brelińska
Substantive help: prof. UAP Izabela Kowalczyk
The Voyager’s Record / Rejestr podróżnika (30.05-09.06.2018, :SKALA, Poznań)
Because science has explained the world successfully, but not exhaustively, we need an alternative that will reveal those things that science neglected.
Point of departure.
The exhibition "The Voyager's Record" refers to traveling as such a form of mobility, which results from the internal need to see inaccessible, undiscovered, lost and mysterious places. Its title is related to the name of two gold-plated disks - The Voyager Golden Record - which was placed in the 1970s onboard of spacecraft launched as part of the Voyager program. There were some specific recordings and photographs on these disks that were supposed to show the life cycle of the human species on Earth to the extraterrestrial viewers. The exhibition shows the latest works created by artists and figuratively refers to the untamed dreams of seeing unknown lands and what is more the cosmos. Artists’ projects pay attention to the images and elements of nature that interest them during their “expeditions” (expedition is translated as “mobility organized for a specific purpose”). Such concept situates the artist in the position of a researcher/explorer who archives/documents reality and nature for a specific purpose. These objects are deprived of the features of the “artifact” (translated as “incorrect element of the scientific research result”). On the contrary, they become a specific scientific record depicting life on Earth.
During the nineteenth century, when the ideological trend called romanticism was developing, the author of the book “COSMOS. Physical description of the world” Alexander von Humboldt noticed that nature is a constant object of the discoverer's fascination. When observing the works of contemporary artists, the aforementioned glorification of nature seems to be still super important. Humboldt wrote: "Children's joy at the sight of the particular figures of the countries and the closed seas, as geographical cards show us; the desire to see the constellations of the southern sky that are not on our firmament; images of palm and Lebanon cedars in the holy scriptures; they are all things as an example cited, and which are capable of awakening in the young soul unreasonable desire to see distant lands”.
The exhibition is a story about spiritual travels, as well as about feelings that accompany the search for one's own nature. Staying in a state of suspension, properly distant from reality, very credible memorabilia arise - telling a lot about the Earth itself. However, it is not so much its scientific portrait that is important but the presentation of our planet from the perspective of the internal experiences of its inhabitants.
Foreign form "voyager" in the title of the event derives from not only the NASA program but also indicates the globetrotter lifestyle of the majority of artists invited to the exhibition. Their stories and memories play such important role as exhibited works. It can be said that they are figuratively cosmic probes shot into unknown spaces, and their works are the records of observed phenomena. I deliberately extend this context to the area of science and cognition. That is why I invited Maciej Gąbka to cooperate with me ("Fragmentation of point IX"). He devoted his master's thesis to the issue of an epistemological obstacle, and considers himself as a "seeker". The artist deliberately combines theory and practice, which proves his scientific precision. The attitude of this creator thus becomes an important axis in the art-science relationship.
The starting point of the exhibition is the video "Mars 116" by Lilia Luganskaia. A few years ago, this artist wondered why people would not like to live on Mars? She was inspired by a survey carried out by the Dutch foundation Mars One. It was supposed to find potential volunteers who would be able to live forever on the Red Planet. Most of the respondents were excited about such idea. The artist has made an attempt to understand why leaving Earth is not a problem for some of its inhabitants?
Following this concept, one can assume that in the future, scientific progress will be able to transform Diogenes’ sentence "I am a citizen of the world" into "I am a citizen of the universe". Therefore, the vision of the universe as a metaphor of the human body created by Piotr Pardiak refers to the still-evolving human-universe relation ("Universum").
Łukasz Jastrubczak presents another research stop. His "Walk on the Spiral Jetty" is an actual sound record created during his stroll along the work of an American artist Robert Smithson (August 6, 2014). The plate on which it was recorded reminds the shape of the Voyager discs and the words of Florian Dombois, who claims that “we need an alternative that will reveal those things that science neglected." Undoubtedly, this gap can be filled by artistic activity, strongly related to a subjective sphere of feelings and impressions.
In direct reference to the tradition of photographic records, the works of Michał Peplak ("On the Way") and Andrea Mtz. del Muro ("When the lines cross", "Solitude is my best friend", "Disconnected") are presented. Photographs are the most common forms of consolidating the travel process. They not only document the images that are important to us but often are the only proof that we have seen a specific place or have witnessed a certain phenomenon. Baltazar Fajto uses this medium very consciously as he had drawn the most distant points in Europe on the map and then visited them and created a database consisting of photographs and research notes. That is why randomized images became a consciously composed, coherent story. Audiovisual materials play an important research role, too. Araks Sahakyan created them to document geopolitical transformations ("Ingenocide") in Turkey (former Western Armenia).
However, some trips are so abstract that they are only able to exist with the help of Google Maps. As Olga Kowalska claims, there are places that despite the fact that we did not visit them realistically, they are incredibly part to us. She includes Lust Road or Despair and Hope Island into her emotional states. Max Radawski uses a more tangible form in his art. The objects connected with stones, so important for the Japanese art of Suiseki, reflect the image of the Japanese mountains ("Digital Suiseki").
The concept axis of the exhibition is complemented by the idea of saving and creating research notes. Following Robert Smithson's conception: "The history of the Earth seems to be a history sometimes recorded in a book in which each page is torn into small pieces. Many pages, like some of their parts, have been lost. " We often find in our own comments the most important content for us. They are all the more valuable when they can be read by a wider audience. Diana Lelonek and Marek Kucharski returned to the nineteenth-century book of Charles Darwin "Origin of Species" in their original project. Between the lines, they both found crucial theoretical content for their journey to Australia. ("There's nothing there anyway"). Katarzyna Wąsowska, on the other hand, not only gives us her internal reflections ("Little thoughts are underestimated") but also thoroughly investigates the history of the lost Atlantis ("Atlantologia"). Reaching for maps and other publications, carrying out her own investigation, she undermines scientific attempts to “find something that is not even properly defined, because it does not exist physically. It is just an idea placed in the middle of a large ocean.", says the artist. The form of multi-page stories also appears in a magazine designed by Araks Sahakyan. Whirling between fiction and reality, she created her own magazine, which could be made available to airplane users ("Wolkaik. InFlight Magazine").
My research notes
An important element that organizes the idea of the exhibition is a conceptual map created by me. It was inspired by the aesthetics of old cosmic space drawings. Subsequent enlarging circles show the phenomenon of the development of the curatorial concept, which could not function without a complex bank of keywords and artworks. A concrete vision of reality seems to keep the show together.