BWA Art Gallery, Olsztyn: People Are Strange

People Are Strange 

24. X – 30. XI 2014    

BWA Art Gallery in Olsztyn, Poland


Artists: Justyna Adamczyk, Ewa Axelrad, Marta Borkowska, Ola Cieślak, Martyna Jakubowska, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Anna Orlikowska, Konrad Smoleński, Kamil Strudziński, Iza Tarasewicz, Mariusz Tarkawian, Patrycja Piwosz, Aleksandra Urban, Małgorzata Wielek-Mandrela

Curator: Ewelina Bobińska

In the English language the adjective strange is inextricably linked to the noun stranger. This peculiar lexical relation reflects a common connotation, spread rather widely, irrespective of culture and geography. A Stranger – an entity formed beyond the homogeneous structure of a group – is a carrier of different values. This is what makes him, in the eyes of “legitimate” citizens, a potential threat to the law and order which has been hammered out in a given community.

In the natural world some species are capable of adopting external physical characteristics which allow them for temporary metamorphosis and environment convergence – at the same time retaining the internal characteristics, typical of a given genus.  In the modern world a Stranger camouflages in a huge agglomeration, in an anonymous crowd. Reality allows people to don masks of refinement and social correctness, tailor-made with the lining of culturally-embedded distance and discretion in private matters. This Superego costume is equipped with lining and pockets, cloaking rampant fantasies, repressed impulses of the animal Id nature and sometimes the gloomy abyss of misdeeds, which remain concealed.

The context of the exhibition “People are strange” can be provided by the climate of David Fincher’s  film “Seven”, where two detectives (Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt) study cases of murders based on the motif of seven cardinal sins. Invading the private space of the victims’ homes, the officers track the other side of human personality, which is set free when its “carrier” withdraws from social activity and is all alone. The viewer discovers the nature of allegedly decent citizens, or at least those with an acceptable place in society, who worship their weaknesses, obsessions and compulsions when no one sees them.  The viewer of the exhibition “People are strange” may assume the role of a detective, or a Just Man, eager to severely punish the observed people, or finally – they can skittishly admit that looking deep into a mind similar to theirs, they secretly dream of breaking free from the abiding norms in order to indulge in their little sins.

(…) All works presented at the exhibition “People are strange” can be treated as artistic ways to depict reality; however, they can also be used as an introspection tool. The logotype of the exhibition is a face emerging from black spilled stains, resembling inkblots from the tests of Hermann Rorschach, a Swiss psychoanalyst, who first (1921) used methods referring to subconscious in psychological diagnosis. Acknowledging the possibility that there exists another hidden level of experience in ourselves is ideally compatible with the postulates of Dadaists and Surrealists, who explored the space of unconsciousness and dream and used newly developed psychological and psychiatric techniques to intensify their own visionary skills. “Know thyself” (gnothi seauton) was written on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Both viewers and artists who co-create the exhibition “People are strange” can join on the level of interaction and understanding – artists reveal and offer their sensitivity, whereas viewers gain insight into the depths of their own personality by observing their reactions to the exhibited works.  Play on associations, seemingly abstract shapes, a wide choice of various techniques, similar to those used by Dadaists and Surrealists, such as collage, montage and object transformation are all elements of the Olsztyn exhibition which allow viewers to test the tracks of private associations, to study the area of their perception and the source of pleasure, as well as to recall images from the deep recesses of our memories. All this can serve not only as a source of artistic inspiration, but it also enables a watchful viewer to broaden their mental horizons and sensation, and, possibly, to enhance the forgotten power of imagination. / Ewelina Bobińska /

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