No 2 (94) 2013
April - June

In the Shadow of a Shadow...

In the oeuvre by Piotr Wołyński photography is not merely a grasped or deliberately selected picture, but a specific sign or a record of a deep reflection on the limits of reality and perception mechanisms.

Bogna Błażewicz

She writes about art, film, literature. She lives and works in Poznań.

Bogna Błażewicz

WATCHING THESE PIECES ONE CAN ASK A QUESTION where is the beginning and where is the end of our - but also other's - territory? This, however is just one of a number of questions that arise during visiting the hypnotizing exhibition "Detachment" "The "Detachment" premiere, though containing a slightly different set of works, took place in the FF Łódź Gallery and the Imaginarium Gallery. The second edition occupied the upper space of the Poznań Arsenal, and altered it considerably thanks to excellently planned, evocative arrangement. Piotr Wołyński has prepared the exhibition to present his works from recent years that share a common feature, resulting from the recurrent reflections on photography interpretation and coping with visual and outside visual entanglements of a frozen picture. The entanglements which go back to the time of the picture origin and refer to the moment of one's perception.

Piotr Wołyński has approached photography as a way and a manner to respond to reality not merely understood as the present, but also the past that seems to be halted in a picture, apparently saved from oblivion. Nevertheless, the serious carrying an ominous title "The Plague" (2013) has been focused on the problem of illusory survival that has not always been acknowledged by viewers. Who are we once our silhouette, our face get "frozen" in the photograph to stay there for years? Is this still us? Let me quote the author's commentary on this series: "I am looking at thousands of people who are strangers for me. Their shadows stick tightly to their bodies. Would they recognize themselves here? Irreversibly changed by the disease of sonorous meanings. Alien force has appropriated them".

Photography, as a way of registration, escapes the truth as an objective quality, since a final picture is being born in the mind of one who interprets it, by the same token, it is subjective. This burden is carried by each adult viewer, since his private contexts might differ, and usually do, from the contexts of given situations. This is why Wołyński, as though being a bit jealous, addresses kids audience who have not been burdened yet with the right or wrong intellectual backup, remaining spontaneous and free in taking in what they set their yes on... This phenomenon has been dealt with in the "Oddballs" (2012) series that confronts children with monuments being for them empty forms deprived of additional meanings. The visitors have an opportunity to enter the rotunda placed in the middle of the room, to see the evocative installation "If You Plug In..." (2011), composed of photographs and videos. An illusion of the transfer into the spot of the registered event is striking. A complicated video show features an episode taking place in the St. Peter's Square in Rome - it is focused on diverting attention of the gathered from the Pope, by means of blue balloons. Flickering light boxes illustrate the figures of these who have photographed the event... This piece has been devoted to - as one can read in the comment provided by the author - "an action of taking a photograph as the practice of concentration and organizing experiences".

A shadow, as the mysterious multiplication of a human silhouette or an object, seems to be a leading motive of the exhibition plunged into semi-darkness. The subject of "The Great Life I-V" (2013) series is to face somebody else's shadow. Shadows cast by flags flapping in the wind are a recurrent image of the "Without a Discussion" (2011) series. And finally, the shadow of a figure looking at raindrops in a poetic, if not metaphysical installation "So What..." (2013) referring, among others, to the contemplative attitude...

During a short conversation the artist told me that photography, or more generally art, was for him a strategy to "get detached". Writing about this I reveal no secret, since a careful viewer will recognize that all exhibition is a deeply reflective attempt to keep one's distance, in other words, detachment mentioned in the title.

Piotr Wołyński "Detachment", the "Arsenal" City Gallery, Poznań, April - May 2013.