Curator: Maryam Rasti
The initial formation of this exhibition was based on the idea of how one can perceive a situation from multiple perspectives. A situation that we call “GHIZH.”
“GHIZH” is derived from the present participle of the verb “GHIZHIDAN,” meaning to burrow and drag oneself hard on the ground. In its nominal and colloquial sense, it refers to the long journey of a “hard” body in space.
The “GHIZH” situation is a tough one; it’s a situation in which we find ourselves trapped, and we’ve struggled for years to break free. The “GHIZH” situation is a temporary situation that takes on a permanent form, engulfing us, stopping time, and each time something is gained, it discards many existences.
The “GHIZH” situation is a contradictory one; contradictory perceptions, contradictory emotions, contradictory facts.
The “GHIZH” situation is a state of confusion; decisions that are correct today may be perceived as wrong tomorrow. What is certain today is not even probable tomorrow. Uncertainty is a word that manifests itself every day in some aspect of life.
In the GHIZH situation, life seems impossible, but the living have made it possible, as if they hold fire in the palms of their hands, they move forward and miraculously do not burn up.
Curator: Wojciech Gilewicz
“Strange Garden” [Dziwny Ogród] is a collective story composed of works by artists of different generations, who use floral and plant motifs to address difficult personal topics and problems affecting their communities or society at large. Visual appeal, color, and floral form in these works only serve to seduce the viewer to make instant connections to things that are difficult, painful, and sometimes traumatic, which we would rather not remember, let alone discuss.
The title of the exhibition, curated by Wojciech Gilewicz, comes from Józef Mehoffer, known for his canonical early 20th century Polish painting “Strange Garden” now in the permanent collection of the National Museum in Warsaw (https://culture.pl/en/work/the-strange-garden-jozef-mehoffer), which depicts a bourgeois family stroll in an idyllic summer moment amid flowers, fruits, and lush greenery. However, as scholar Izabela Kopania (Art Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences) writes:
In recent years, taking another look at the composition of the painting and the various elements of the world presented, researchers have been paying more attention to motifs that introduce elements of anxiety into the arcadian depiction of the garden: the predation of the dragonfly, the withered tree, the sidelong gaze of the nanny, who seems to see something that others do not. It has been noted that these elements suggest the existence of another dimension, another realm that may threaten this Arcadia. Consistently, the painting has been read as combining two spaces: the space of sunshine and happiness, and the inevitably accompanying dark space of sadness and awareness of transience. (http://www.isztuka.edu.pl/i-sztuka/node/625)
The “Strange Garden” exhibition juxtaposes various artistic approaches to the subject of trauma. Next to the works of the late Krystiana Robb-Narbutt, who addresses the theme of the Holocaust among other topics, and whose small wood and glass showcases are shrines of everyday life (tiny flowers in pots, pussy willows, sweets), there is the work of Piotr Korol, who works directly with the materiality of objects such as a key or a chair. Grinding objects into powder, destroying them, he mixes their dust with paint medium to create abstract, monochromatic paintings. Especially for the exhibition, the artist has prepared a series of small paintings from powdered fragments of plants. The work of Jagoda Dobecka depicts herbs found in Poland that we might find on a walk in a meadow or a park. What these plants have in common is that they are considered to be abortifacients, and some of them have been used for centuries by witches and herbalists. Anna Panek has made a new installation for the exhibition: a site-specific painted curtain with an abstract pattern that tells the artist’s personal story. Hung in the window of the apartment on Puławska Street, it will obscure the sweeping view of the beautiful Morskie Oko Park, a place of many traumatic events during WWII, still present in the collective memory of today’s Warsaw. This very park is the subject of a text work by Agata Becher who brings the grim past into the present using trees as a metaphor for life and memory. Monika Mamzeta and Robert Kuta, developed in turn a performative project about female menopause and what it entails. Dagmara Baranska-Morzy tackles generational traumas, which, often unconscious, are transmitted across generations in the form of premonitions, secrets and understatements. Christmas trees found in dumpsters caught Małgorzata Pawlak‘s attention because of the undercurrent of drama this common sight carries. There are so many of them every year, and they say so much about our habits and inclinations. They are a symbol of how quickly what was in the spotlight of importance lands in the dustbin of memory. Her work is in dialogue with the works of Michał Slezkin, whose creative practice contemplates the process of passing and decay, and of Andrzej Tobis, for whom cemeteries are strange gardens: quiet places, full of flowers, even if most of them are artificial, and where dead people lie underground. The cemetery, for Tobis, is an anti-Eden, not the mythical garden from which we supposedly emerged, but the real garden where we will all undeniably end up.
An integral part of the exhibition will be an exchange of potted plants. Anna Panek has said, “a plant is a bit like a person. We do not know how to take good care of every plant, and sometimes there are plants that we don’t quite like because they have their own preferences, grow crooked, bend to the light or hide themselves.” Visitors to the exhibition are invited to bring plants that they no longer want, because they are too big or too small, grow too slow or too fast, that they have bad associations or memories with, plants that for some reason they can no longer care for. In exchange, visitors will be able to take a plant that they will enjoy and will take into their homes. This “sanatorium” of sorts for plants will be an ever-changing element of the exhibition, silently bringing to the picture these plants’ intimate stories that will remain beyond our grasp and that will slowly take over the exhibition space with time.
Importantly, the exhibition will open in the midst of the busy campaign leading up to the Polish parliamentary elections held every four years that will change the country for the better, or not. The results of the October 15th elections, where crucial questions will be asked, will show what kind of a country the people really want, not only for themselves, but also for the generation after them: the Arcadia from Mehoffer’s painting or the anti-Eden from Tobis’ photograph, where individual and collective traumas will be reinforced and celebrated by politicians and new ones created on an ongoing basis. It will all play out very soon. See you there!
The exhibition “Strange Garden,” curated at Other Society by Wojciech Gilewicz, is part of the second Fringe Warszawa festival (September 28-October 1, 2023) – an annual event that provides a platform for a diverse Warsaw art scene composed currently of some thirty independent and non-commercial venues and initiatives throughout the city, operating outside institutional establishments and commercial circles.
In the grip of severe insomnia, delirium seizes control over speech and involuntary movements override sensory perceptions. These states typically emerge after approximately five consecutive sleepless nights, ushering in helplessness and instability within the individual. Vision becomes distorted, and hallucinations and strange sounds ensue. Delusions and unfamiliar voices emerge, while powers of focus, alertness, and concentration wane. As a result, many political prisoners have been exposed to various forms of such torture to break their resilience. The creation and dissemination of loud and irregular sounds, intense exposure to white light, and the release of nitrous oxide and oxygen are methods employed in applying such torments.
In this video installation, three videos are showcased. The first, Be the Water was created in 2012, followed by War in 2017, and Tormentum Insomniae in 2022. Over a decade separates the creation of the first and the last, united by the central idea that connects these three:
water/life/existence, Land/homeland/body, and history/decay/oblivion.
In all three videos, the camera remains stationary. It places itself in the position of a spectator, which, when subjected to oppression, loses the dynamism of its vitality. The camera is not an explorer; it refrains from probing. Beyond this tranquillity, the viewer becomes a metaphor for a society engulfed in days, months, and years of torture and oppression, grappling with anxiety and historical disarray. It fails to discern the continuous reoccurrence of the events as to adapt its cultural norms and customary practices anew with the passing of time. Perhaps the consecutive encounter with historical suffering is something akin to the erosion of willpower, where intense pressure diminishes and dissipates it. Like an uncertain observer, it awaits the end of one “event” and the commencement of another.
In August 2017, I organized an exhibition titled Decay, Chapter Two: Rend. In a section of this exhibit, I curated an installation called coup d’état Monument, referencing five coups d’état in contemporary history. This installation consisted of five cubes crafted using organic heart tissue and gelatine. Due to the organic nature of gelatine, along the presence of air and proteins, the hearts began to decay over the course of twenty days. They emitted an odor, blood clots formed, and worms nested there. I kept them in a controlled environment with consistent temperature for five years.
The environment eventually became devoid of life, and the worms and their eggs perished too because of the lack of oxygen and scarcity of proteins couldn’t sustain that newly formed life, as the lingering scent and decomposition filled each of the five cubes. In late summer 2022, five years after their creation, I set them on fire, and the video Tormentum Insomniae is the result of the one-hour and forty-five-minute process of their burning. From the time the sun began to set until the fire was extinguished.
کریستالها در فرایندی زمانمند تبلور مییابند. به این ترتیب که ابتدا یک ذره به ذرهای دیگر پیوند میخورد و آن دو، هسته اولیه را در حرکتی سلولوار تشکیل میدهند. این حرکتِ شبکهای مادامی که توسط محیط اطراف تغذیه شود ادامه مییابد و بسته به محیط و هوا فرم میگیرد.آنها در تاریکی و فشار با مشخصات هندسی و خلوصی متفاوت قامت میگیرند.
يک تکه کریستال هجده روزه هم قدم با اقامت من در این برنامه، از تکهای چند میلیمتری رشد کرده است. او میتوانست بزرگتر یا کوچکتر، سختتر یا شکنندهتر باشد. اما قطعهای که حالا باقیست با همه خصوصیاتش تلاشی است برای جمود لحظاتی که اینجا به همصحبتی و همنشینی گذشت. همانقدر شفاف که هست، همانقدر کوچک که گذشت.
درسهايی از ظلمات
به هوشنگ آزادیور
در مدت اقامتام در اين رزيدنسی به تجربه جدیدی از زندگی در خانهای با معماری ایرانی مواجه شدم. اینکه چگونه معماری میتواند با فضاسازی و درونی کردن آن باعث ایجاد حس امنیت شود. به نظر من معماری ایرانی اساسا با همین شیوه که فضای درونی را چنان خیال انگیز و جان آسای میکند که باشنده را از محيط بيرون جدا کند، ممتاز ميشود. شاید از این رهگذر بتوان به بخشی از شکل گیری تاریخ معماری و رابطه آن با خیال پرداخت.
درِ ورودی کوچک و تنگ، راهرو و هشتی سپس حیاط فراخ، شیشه رنگیها و ختایی و مقرنس و سرداب. دیوارهاي سفید یا منقوش به پرنده و گل و قصه. حوض و فواره در میانه و باغچهها و سرو و انار و شاهعباسی هم در اطراف. همه چیز در تقسیم بندی و شراکت خنکی و سایه و بازتابش نور. بیرونِ در اما؛ خشکی و تحدید و استبداد. آسمان پنهان و بیماری و خشک مغزي، مهاجم. این چیدمان تلاشی است برای دربرابر هم قراردادن این دو:
باغ در تضاد با واقعیت و در تناظر با خیال، بی هيچ شاعرانگی.
I curse this bloodless world.
I curse the silence
and am silent.
Greek Mythology – the ethereal fluid, not blood, supposed to flow in the veins of the gods.
Pathology – a watery, acrid discharge from certain wounds and sores.
The different interpretations produced over time shape the terrain of this research and the dialogue between the curator and the artists in this project.
Myth deals with the ambiguities of individual and collective experiences of human life and makes perplexed phenomenon tolerable through narration. For this reason, we seek haven in mythology to confront life’s bewilderment or to find resilience with no expectation to find the answer to the obscurity that history brings us.
The tragic story of Daedalus and Icarus has been interpreted in many ways in different cultures through different times: the ascension of human to the spiritual realm, uniting with the divine and being flared by the sun of truth, the consequence of ambition, and even the fall of man. Our intension is not to carry on with the same narrative. Icarus pushed himself to the boundaries trying to achieve the impossible as a modern activist. There has always been a barrier separating mortal beings and powerful gods. Despite such discrimination between Superior gods and inferior beings, we still hear voices from this class that rise against the gods. Regardless of such hierarchy, the battle between the society and the power structure is happening in a different way today.
The act of flying was something only gods and superior creatures ruling the sky were able to conquer. The decision to go beyond the limitations of the human race and the hope for flying high was what provoked gods to descent he who set out on a journey to such hierarchy. In recent years the spectators of a fall reach out for the truth through a more accessible path by the mass media, yet this revelation relentlessly projects them an Icarian fall. Punishment, mourning, amnesia, remembrance, toleration, hopelessness, and desolation are all the ladder of a fall that surround societies extensively.
There is a tie between the hero who decides to fly high, and the spectators who fly in the middle. The society who witness the fall of the hero are participants to the same fall- if not turning their faces away. If they stand still witnessing the incident, even though they survive the fall, they still break. The punishment of the spectators who avoided a fall, is to watch the hero’s fall. This collective trauma potentially recollects a sealed history. It is a history that belongs to the whole humankind, and yet powerful gods appropriate it throughout history.
No matter how mild or severe the incident, we have to keep the memory of those we watched fall alive, because the moment the witnesses’ narration starts to disappear, the history changes it to the benefit of the new narrators.
Orpiment is a chemical that is used for medical purposes as well as in the cosmetic industry. In a way it is considered to be a killer cure! From one hand it can cure and from the other can kill, since it is poisonous. It could cause the user to create an imaginary world of love and beauty and serenity, which does not exist in reality. Therefore, it could affect one’s pshychic ability which could cause death instead of happiness.
Morality and principals are achieved in a point in time. That point in time is impregnated by circumstances. Variables such as population, geography, government, history, and tradition in certain swings translates into human behaviour, principal or its costumes. Such sway makes a circle in which the masses of people encompassed and affected. The layers of history are built this way, revolutions, uprisings, movements, sufferings and joys, are all built by this sway.
suffering and sorrow coexists along with a combination of moral codes of a society, clan. (Sorrow has a geographic component in it too) Hence the Pain differs from east to west. The easterner suffers from pains the westerner might not have a clue from. Here in the east the size and density of the population and excess of traditions as well as abundance, has made solid walls for the ivy of pain. That pain can be the pain of colonialism or the pain of ignorance. The pain exists and its raison d’être exists too. Porse…
It was here in Bangladesh that I get a chance to ponder upon the history and memories of the liberating movements. But liberating from what? Because we should know that there is a significant difference between the pain that others impose on people and the pain people are used to endure in their lives. That pain was different from the pain of a disabled man with his bare feet and long skinny hands on the hot asphalt. It is different from the pain the gaunt legs of an older man paddling on a rickshaw. Colonialization is putting up with a pain of unfamiliar hence it bears conflict.
I found ordinary people, waiting for CNG among them the poor, the middle class, Hindu, Muslim, traveler, etc and I photographed them. Hoping to capture that pain that was sometimes apparent and some other times not, in their faces. That living struggle with pain became the essence I wanted to capture in my photographs.
For the second section of the book I used images of skeletons instead to hint on the instability and unreliability of the situation. These skeletons sometimes were able to show emotions through facial mussels, that emotion being suffering or a huge smile but they got slaughtered during the years of 1960-70. The leaves are reminders of freedom fighters and martyrs who were among the people of the country and now are only memories that are only reminded in speachs.
When the ruler Pontius Pilates who ordered the torture and crucifixion of Christ that after a crown of thorns on his head showed him to the raging audience and said: ECCO HOMO or as Friedrich Nietzsche puts it a human too human who might be the metaphor for displaying his calm and painless face where as he has been going through a lot of suffering.
victim playing are create through the history and theyformed by historical experience andreligion and traditions. There are signs of victim playing in face of every religion and ideology which irrigated by blood of martyrs. But sometimes this way of behaving turns to a way of living. So victim playing is not naïve behavior. All of us have a victim player in our pocketto take it out in times of trouble. Whenthe victim player face a situation andother acts seems useless, it starts to moan and showing its hatred. Or sometimes it exaggerate about life difficulty and then self-mutilation comesout as the last effort of a victim player.Professional victim players are those who use this act to escape from ordinary responsibilities and also as areasoning for their own faults.
Victim player takes a free ride with its hatred behavior. If victim playing isn’t amalevolent tree, surly it’s a none-turnway
Decline is a negation, the negation of the steadiness and staying.
To distance from the status quo. It is to turn from one sate to another and churn and destroys whatever is which does not tolerate the current situation. It is the physics of transformation; transformation from one kind to another, from one form to another or from one life to another. It is temporality itself. It is rebellious and anarchist and anti-history and memory, and it exist in actions and thoughts. It is Janus , the mythical god of the beginning and the end of a mirror installed in front of anther mirror. To become is to be oneself from another route, which means being twice. With little consciousness to the time, which pushed, back the time that has a limited tendency of the retuning urge. It is the source of creativity.Hence all creativities are but the explosion of actions and reactions,the junction of powers. It is a black whole that it’s gravity attracts other gravities, anti-history and memory too…
The Chapter, To Become, is the first chapter of the Decline collection. It stares at the antennas as well as the mysterious fungus and irregularities on fruits and grains and foods and hyphae on bread.
It sees the Mold and moisture sits as well as corruption and smell the death form the lint of fruits. As long as whether is agreeable and there is some air, the salty and sweet microorganisms will have a slimy and colorful surface. It is sour and bitter and smelly and can make us sick. I have farmed most of them to have a chance to observe them. In some of the images they might look a bit abstract, yet they are big pieces of the routine bread and yogurt. Here I have taken the air
from them and have kept them under a transparent gelatin surface, for you to capture a second of their tendency ‘to become’ and ‘to change’. They touch and reach toward you and your belongings everyday and every second. It is your turn to touch them back.
In Roman mythology, Janus or Ianus, is the god of gates, doors, passageways and entry routes, and also the god of beginnings and endings. Janus the most outstanding heritage remaining form Janus in modern culture, is January that is the first month of the year. The significance for this name is that each year begins and ends with this month. Janus is often portrayed with two faces or two heads. One of those two heads looks toward the front and one in the opposite direction, which means it looks behind.
Iran’s contemporary history after the Constitutional Revolutions is inundated with instances of people revolting and governments suppressing. Five historical junctions among these have left a permanent mark on the body of our history: June 22, 1899, February 22, 1921, April 1949, August 19, 1953, and 2009
In the early days of the Revolution the streets were pulsating with an excitement that ended in shedding a lot of blood and killing many a body. The image of this man was recovered from slides in a newspaper archive. A narrative of those days, those streets, and blood …
Kurds are the people who speak Kurdish and they widely live in the Central Asia, Middle East and the west of Iranian plateau and the east of Anatoly. Although the Kurdistan region had been a part of Iran and culturally, historically and linguistically belongs to Iranian people, after the battle of Chaldiran which culminated in 1514, it marked the start of the Ottoman-Persian Wars between the Iranian Safavids (and successive Iranian dynasties) and the Ottomans. For the next 300 years, many of the Kurds found themselves living in territories that were frequently exchanged between Ottoman Turkey and Iran during the protracted series of Ottoman-Persian Wars. Nowadays the great Kurdistan forms parts of northwest of Iran, east of Iraq, north of Syria and also a big part of east Turkey. They are the biggest of the ethnic minority in Turkey and one of the largest ethnic groups in Iran too. Thus throughout their chaotic history, courage, resistance and stories of frustrations to the way of liberation can be found. Kurds are often regarded as “the largest ethnic group without a state in the world as well.
Man does not kill but himself as he has never seen anything outside himself.