Contemporary Art Gallery BWA Sokół, Nowy Sącz, 18.01–17.02.2013
Michał Smandek: Teleport Process
Jacek Kołodziejski: Terrarium
The beginning of the 19th century – the birth of the modern era – a period with a deluge of tourist guides, with the cult led by Baedeker publishing at the forefront. As a characteristic feature of modernity, tourism gives all its complexity and internal entanglement. The fascination with exotic species of animals; accompained by their extermination. Curiosity about the world, which led to visits to tourist attractions – a theatre, where the modern man saw his desires and ideas about the world. In broader terms, tourism reflects the tension between the romantic need to experience primordial nature, and the process of industrial expolitation of the planet. Tourism, then, expresses so well the perfect complexity and systematic ambivalence of modern humanity: the manufacture of an artifical world that terrified, and from which humanity fled, and the search for a lost paradise, naturalness, which when it is found, turns out to be too wild to surrender to control.
Although actually the works exhibited in the Contemporaries: tourists formed as a result of journeys, out of town trips, long walks and observation of nature, the tourism of Jacek Kołodziejski and Michał Smandek should not, of course, be taken too literally. First of all, it must be understood as an ambivalent, self-contradictory human relationship with nature. Jacek Kołodziejski’s photographs were taken over the last four years during trips to southern France, Croatia and Poland. But Jacek says bluntly: “I havent’t got the soul of a traveller, and adventures in exotic countries rather scare me.” As a result, he chose a place where technology tangibly came into contact with nature, and where it was safe. Among them is a park located in the Camargue wetlands and marshes nature reserve, where wild white horses live and for whom there is a comfortable, paved path. Jacek Kołodziejski then photographed the bridge over the highway, which allows the animals to migrate, then a hotel in Languedoc with “wild”, but carefull cultivated vegetation. He consciously looked for a particular terrarium, but when he entered the artificially ordered place, it turned out that he hed to deal with nature in all its spontaneity and vitality.
Michał Smandek travels the world looking for places where nature seems untouched by man. The Meke Golu Crater, the white surface of the salt lake Tuz in Turkey, Cabo the Gata in Spain, and Cabo de Sao Vincente in Portugal are only a few of the locations where he has intervened. He has been travelling for a number of years, inhaling the climate of deserts areas of the USA and unpeopled areas of Asia. He is interested in nature in its orginality and simplicity, so he goes for simple chemical substances, and bases his work on simple physical processes. However, in working with nature he becomes an experimenter, and uses practices familiar from science. As a result, it appears that his work does not have to do with nature, but with something manufactured and artifical. Organic and inorganic matter, which would speak for itself, begins to speak thanks to the Michał’s intervention.
The expeditions taken by Jacek Kołodziejski and Michał Smandek, are first and foremost cultural journeys between the poles of technology and naturalness, and only later moving from place to place. Their works show that when studying the relationship between nature, man and technology, there is no need to reach for scientific and technological innovations, as bioart specialists do. It is not even necessary to leave the house. It is practised daily by all, and begins when spraying the room with air freshener.
An interesting figure of the relationship in question is the location of the BWA Sokół gallery and its design themselves. A contemporary building, built in a small town, through whose glass walls you can see the old mountains, raised several milion years ago. On the terraces aroun the gallery there will probably be snow, while inside the buzz and hum of projectors and air conditioning reign.
Michał had top grades in physics. That’s why he doesn’t believe scientists and as far as possible wants to check them himself. From beginning to end: patterns, rules, definitions – everything that makes up an image of the world. He started modestly, from his birthplace – Silesia. He wandered throough the slagheaps and mine-workings. At the beginning he investigated the basics: the brittleness of the branches, the air density, the angle of incidence of light. Then, for a little money, he left and his experiments gained momentum: in the USA he examined water evaporation and its relationship with solids. Then he performed sevral tests devoted to atmospheric pressure, which proved to be a success. Encouraged by his results, he want to Turkey, where he studied the crystallisation ot the sodium chloride crystals and the spectrum they projected. From classical Newtonian physics, he then moved to the theory of relativity and started exploring black holes. He is mastering quantum physics and patenting a formula for teleportation. In Nowy Sącz the scientific and artistic experimental hailstones will turn into water in the gallery, then evaporate, and outside finally reform as ice once more. This unique phenomenon will be observed in the north of the planet for the first time.
exhibition view, photo by Jacek Kołodziejski