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At 53rd Venice Biennale
« Guests »
Pavillion Commissioner Agnieszka Morawinska
Curator of the Exhibition Bozena Czubak
Assisant Commissioner Malgorzata Osinska
Organisation of the exhibition : Zacheta National Gallery of Art
Opening reception : june 4th, 2009 at 5 pm
Giardini di Castello
The protagonists of Krzysztof Wodiczko’s projection are immigrants, people who, not being ‘at home,’ remain ‘eternal guests.’ The ‘other,’ the ‘stranger’ are notions crucial for Wodiczko’s artistic practice — be it projections, vehicles, or technologically advanced instruments offering the possibility to communicate, to speak out, to gain a public presence for those who, deprived of their rights, remain mute, invisible, nameless.
In the Venice project, the artist combines his previous experience of projections in gallery or museum spaces, which opened the closed world of art to the world outside, with the performative character of open-air projections allowing participants to use the images of their hands or faces and the sounds of their voices to animate the walls of public buildings.
The spectators inside the Polish pavilion watch what is going on outside, outside the ‘windows,’ their illusion, their projection onto the pavilion’s windowless walls. The projections open the pavilion’s space to virtual and at the same time real scenes showing immigrants from Poland and other Eastern European countries washing windows. The workers’ blurry figures appear and then disappear again. Their silhouettes, moving up or down, are visible at different heights: some stand outside the ‘windows’ level with the viewer, others wash the windows from tall ladders. In another section of the projection, on a ceiling with an illusion of a flat skylight, further worker figures emerge above the spectators’ heads: eating lunch, talking. The images are slightly muzzy, limiting our ability to comprehend the meaning of the scenes unfolding outside the opaque windows. Their visibility is constantly distorted by the shape-blurring window washing liquid. Wodiczko plays with the visibility of immigrants who are almost ‘within arm’s reach’ and, at the same time are ‘on the other side,’ outside windows blurring their images, which refers us to the ambiguous status of immigrants, their social invisibility. An inability to overcome the distance (to visually familiarise the image) is experienced by both sides. The Biennale visitors are ‘guests’ here too, as the window-washing immigrants trying, in vain, to peek inside the pavilion remind them.
The strangeness within oneself, realised in confrontation with the ‘other,’ connects in Wodiczko’s practice a critical issues with a utopian one, aesthetics with politics. In the space of the pavilion, in a relationship with others, those who are different, the esthetical enters into relationship with the political.
The Gallery Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris represents Krzysztof Wodiczko since 1987
www.gabriellemaubrie.com/ - 2k - En
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