No 3 (95) 2013
July - September

Glow-Worms in the Garden

„Brightness" was the motto of this year edition of the night of museums held in the University Library gardens. Picturesque surrounding, May night, stormy sky and points of light. All these have been perfect components to develop special artistic atmosphere.

Zofia Jabłonowska-Ratajska

Art historian, she lives and works in Warsaw.

Zofia Jabłonowska-Ratajska

NATURAL SETTING WAS OVERWHELMING ENOUGH, so the artists merely joined, added more life, orchestrated their actions with the magic of the place. This has been a subsequent edition of Beautiful Lies, i.e., the international performers meeting organized here as of 2007. As a rule the meetings have shared a topic that motivates artistic actions and provides food for the questions related to the area of philosophy, politics, economy, the role of an artist in the today world.

This year Eulalia Domanowska, the curator of the event, invited fifteen artists from Norway, Poland and Switzerland. Each of them tried to arrange his fragment of the garden. By the entrance one had an opportunity to listen to a poem - selected and dedicated to everyone who was willing - read by Jacek Bąkowski in the light cast by a night lamp. Moving around the garden, one was coming across subsequent objects and installations; discrete, practically "natural", scattered as light-worms in the grass, ephemeral, fleeting, with aspirations neither to present monumental pieces, nor to offer memorable slogans or innovative manifestoes.

What else is there to be told about light? Illuminating the interior of churches, irradiating pictures, achieved by means of paints, mirrors, electric bulbs, neon signs, and by a number of other ways; indispensable not only to life, but also to the vast majority of artistic actions. In the Warsaw University Library gardens none of the artists has attempted to formulate new theories on this issue, instead they have been focused on grasping light, on observing how it appears and glitters, and on sending light signals to others. They used simple components and inexpensive materials, for instance potatoes - a field of illuminated potatoes, "planted" by Constance Allen, resembled a map of an ideal city (City of Light). Numerous artists have referred to experiments and discoveries connected with light, approaching the latter as an element to create an illusion, impact imagination, thus revealing new dimensions of eyesight and intellectual experience. The "Incubator" by Paweł Dudko - a device similar to a periscope running the drops of fluorescent liquid - developed illusions, the "beautiful lie" from the title that we are so eager to believe in.

Wacław Ostrowski has constructed a device to send letters into the Space. He has applied a floodlight facing the sky. Using Morse alphabet he sent messages formulated by passers-by towards stars with the speed of light. Ryszard Ługowski, one of the most interesting Polish performers, has offered a totally different dimension to open onto the space, to relax, to focus, to contemplate. Starting with an aesthetic experience he has led to the intuitive cognition. He has achieved this level of the "light of mind" through a meditation accompanied by monotonous sounds and Tibetan instruments vibration. While playing the Tibetan bowls, the artist directed a sharp beam of laser light onto a small figure of Buddha located in the garden pond. Colorful birds in the installation by Joanna Krzysztoń - hung on tree branches, singing when onlookers approached - looked quite picturesque and exotic; along with luminous icicles, they have turned an ordinary place into the Garden of Eden.

The "Cairo Dream", multimedia installation by Grzegorz Rogala, from outside resembled a Modest kaleidoscope through which one could watch bright, changing pictures. A bit further, to one's surprise, among the grass there was an open black umbrella, protecting the flame of a white candle. The lyrical, full of humor "Guide" by Jacek Jagielski has perfectly rendered a sense of transience, an attempt to grasp the moment; the former and the latter being present during the whole event. The event has been developed - escaping urban life and current matters - with colorful poetic gestures and luminous signs that added to the contemplative nature of the meetings.

In case of this type of actions that are accomplished at the moment one is experiencing them, there is a side added value - on the verge, in spite of, involving a lot of imagination. It would be hardly possible to achieve all these moving this ephemeral event into serious museum halls.

The "Beautiful Lies", 7th International Performers Meetings, the Warsaw University Library Gardens, Warsaw, May 2013.