More and more often young Polish artists have been applying collage and photomontage in their art. These are not, however, digital prints or multimedia works, but objects resulting from strenuous, manual effort.
What is more, the interest in collage does not come merely from the fascination with its aesthetics, more from the fact that this technique illustrates the today outlook on art and the world we function in.
To start, let us have a look at the output by Agnieszka Grodzińska and Mateusz Szczypiński. Their pieces offer a similar way of thinking, an approach to reality and the dialogue with the past. They picked up collage to face the eternal question what is art/painting today, and what are their limits. They borrow from quotations and individual pieces that entered the pop culture vocabulary. They refer to the period preceding the postmodernism, where a piece of art enjoyed a specific standing, while an artist was approached as a genius or demiurge. They explore interrelations between the sacred and the profane; a copy and an original – what these mean in the contemporary culture where their borders are obliterated, with ever present reproduction, a copy of a copy, and the contact with an original is of second importance. One can risk a statement that in the era of universal digitalization and ever present Internet access, the contact with the copy is more natural than coming across the original; the latter assuming the rank of something very special and unique. These artist reach to old snapshots, illustrations published in newspapers, frequently earlier processed. Szczypiński uses materials discovered in flea markets, while Grodzińska applies slides, xerography prints and photographs she has taken herself. All these undergo the process of deconstruction, change of scale to create a new order which might be a step on the way to answer all these questions. The space they create lets one find new inter textual meanings and opportunities.
For Grodzińska and Szczypiński the collage is a way to illustrate the multiplicity, and lack of an explicit answer to the question about art; what are the reasons that one is left alone in the critical moment of asking a question. In contrast to these two artists, Kama Sokolnicka has moved a step further. The moment of crisis, anxiety, disappointment – which has been a climax for Grodzińska and Szczypiński – is for her a starting point of creation.
Works from the “Disappointment of View” series of collages, as the artist explains, show “a point of view where everything seems disappointing”. At the first glance, they are calm and quiet, emanating boredom and reluctance to act. The presented situations are suspended, as though they were frozen in time. In contrast to the technique applied, the collages by Sokolnicka have been subtle and subdued. After a moment, this illusion of coherence starts showing cracks that make the composition vibrate and move. These collages are the contemplation of silence just before the storm breaks. They affirm emotions, feelings of anxiety and uncertainly of what might happen. Finally, there is some hope for the better.
All three artists refer to the past through a symbolic gesture of reaching to old newspapers and photographs, mainly from the 50”s – 80”s period. They apply these as pictures and traces of the “golden age” era. The times they know from recollections that have been exaggerated and filtered through mass media and faulty human memory. The “ideal” modernistic architecture, models frozen in poses from commercials, on one hand bring back fond memories of the past; on the other – reveal falseness and artificiality of the staged situations. The deconstruction of the original materials additionally outlines this feature. This might be achieved by means of an intervention, imperceptible at the first glance, or by a strongly exaggerated contrast. Each time, however, one senses how the “ideally” created world is incompatible to the reality.
text was previously published in: EXIT, No 2 (90) 2012, April – June