The Course of Line (2018)

Untitled (Białowieża), 2016

Why does a certain type of a forest receive state protection?
How does a certain physiognomic type become considered to be better or worse, or how does it get assigned to the master race or a slave race?
What determines the course of contemporary or future biopolitics, which aims at preservation or extermination?

Michał Zawada’s exhibition introduces a juxtaposition of photographs that originate in two seemingly different orders: images of Białowieża Forest and images of plaster casts of heads, which during the time of World War I, served as research on race and heredity. Yet, black and white raw photographs point to a common element – the esthetic form of life, entanglement of biomorphic structures, contours and lines, which can trigger both delight or hatred. A line, noticed and brought out from the background – regular or unsettled, arborescent or not – may become a measure of beauty and humanity, may point to a certain course of action and ethical border. Will it still be possible to behold the beauty of untouched nature? Will the form of human body, in the future, have impact on the social hierarchy? In the time of sudden political and social ruptures Zawada encourages us to rethink our ways of seeing, unveils the cultural sense of order, and provokes us to trace the course of line.

curator: Paweł Brożyński

The Urn (2018)

The Urn, 2018

Lack of ornamentation is a sign of spiritual strength.
(Adolf Loos)

If nothing were left of an extinct race but a single button, I would be able to infer, from the shape of that button, how these people dressed, built their houses, how they lived, what was their religion, their art, their mentality.
(Adolf Loos)

The (truly exact) work of art is a metaphor of the universe obtained with artistic means.
(Theo van Doesburg)

It is estimated, that the Pomeranian Culture (known also as Face Urn Culture), which covered almost whole terrain of contemporary Poland, appeared at the early Iron Age on the border of Halstatt C and Halstatt D (7-6th Century BC) and ended in 3rd Century BC. It’s almost four centuries. The most characteristic artifacts, which this agrarian culture left us, are phallic urns decorated with a schematic human face – most probably the physiognomy of the deceased. In 4th Century BC those simple images disapeared and the Pomeranian Culture started to fall into abstract formalism. We could call it ‘decadence’ or ‘swan song’. The Modernists liked to assume, that the purification of the form from everything unnecessary and pursuit of simplicity is a pursuit of excellence – modern divinity, universality or, simply, maturity. Without any contexts, connections to nature, drifting towards the purest of all possible forms. This absurdly naive linear, teleological concept is, we have to admit, in some ways, seducing. Did the people of the Face Urn Culture think in a similar way? Did they try to move their dead from the earthly diversity towards eternal unity? Maybe they could say something like this: ‘Making urns today is still almost exclusively dependent on natural forms taken from nature. The maker’s contemporary task consists of testing its power and means of ceramicity for the purpose of creation. From this inner tendency will arise, in the future, the truly monumental art, which today we can already foresee. Anyone, who absorbs the innermost hidden treasures of art, is an enviable partner in building the spiritual pyramid, which is meant to reach into heaven.’ It’s difficult to say.