Model Of The Head Of A Man Who Missed Out Everything

installation: light, luminescent powder, steam. Objects are made of paper mâché, shellac varnish, bay leaves, gold, silver
26.08–18.09.2021,
Warsaw, PL
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The installation Model Of The Head Of a Man Who Missed Out On Everything is a series of over 20 objects. Like a metaphor of an accidental meeting at the Fountain, the objects meet up in one place. Every one of them is an independent being. They do have titles, e.g. Us, Model of a Stereotype or Dog in the Bushes. Among those anthropomorphising forms there is copy of work by Marcel Duchamp or Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. It is thus a meeting at the Fountain or a urinal.

All objects are made of paper pulp. It’s a light installation. The installation has two alternate modes throughout its duration: the objects are visible for 15 minutes in full light of the lamps and then they can be watched in complete darkness for 5 minutes. Thanks to the luminescent dust on the objects, they also glow in complete darkness. It’s the crucial moment in this performative installation: the objects illuminate, they exhale fumes, they give off what they have absorbed. The invisible audience can watch this metaphoric meeting in full peace of mind, totally unrestrained.

Photographs taken with an X-ray machine show some of the objects in the installation. X-rayed – they reveal other elements of their structure. For instance, the Flower Vendor has a second black flower built into its “head”.

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Installation view

Freddy Durkee is watching the sun go down


Warsaw. A residential courtyard. A few minutes after 7:00 pm.

A time often referred to as the "golden hour." The air is filled with one of those suffocating smells that tend to force their way into the nostrils. There is a crowd of people engaged in the scene around The Fountain.

One guy, a hood pulled over his head, is staring at you through a single squinting eye. On his right, there is a dog shitting. In the thick of the surrounding leaves, there is nothing else but a pulsating emptiness of green. Some old woman walks by holding a bouquet of black lilies in her hand. She carries them as though they were made of glass. She looks like she's about to cry. There is another guy who is crying. Another guy wearing a cap and a hood blowers cigarette smoke in his face. Another wears a suit with a head shaped like a potato with sunken eyes. There is a pair of teenaged twins glued to him, like two identical baby potatoes. There's a few more pairs. There's the pair sitting on the bench, who are also identical. The resemblance is uncanny, like copies of copies. One of the boys is like a skewed mirror image of the other. Both their eyes spin around in their individual orbits in this narcissistic embrace. Averse and reverse. Negative and positive. In the background, a figure filters in, with an enormous nose that has the texture and character of a rhino. He must not see them. And he doesn't want to. There are other pairs. Two boys sucked into one another, with gold piercings. One head with four ears, a single pair of eyes. A mirrored reflection of two guys immersed in one another, sucking each other's tongues. Or their penises. A man with his ears sticking out, literally beginning for someone to grab those ears. He is watching the sun set or even the moon rise. Melting against the fiery heat. The light illuminating the ass of a guy deftly pissing into the fountain. Another guy hangs over a hedge, although he might just as easily be hanging off a tree. Someone else is watching him from a distance. That one, at the very least, doesn't have a pair. He doesn't have a care in the world. No one is saying a thing. Or perhaps, as in the case of the avant garde art of the 1920s, the figures are simply performing what they are thinking, the very fact that they are thinking, when what they really want to say hangs above them like the sword of Damocles. It spreads across the air above them, thick enough to be sliced open. Everyone is swarming around the fountain, like planets around the sun. Their faces rub against each other like customers scrambling to shop a supermarket sale at Biedronka. The space around them is panting. Twisting and swelling. Fluids rise to the surface and tickle their trunks. Each combination is an imagined one. As in the fiction of Hłasko, their faces are strange, their heads vapid. And just like in Ferdydurke, a phantom invades sleep. 

The curtain drops. Darkness fills the scene. Ladies and gentlemen, this is only a collective hallucination. Please don't leave your seats. Now is the moment this tension will trickle out like sweat into a phosphorescent puddle.




***

If it were a film, the characters would be subject to interactions, a series of gags or chilling webs of conspiracy. Here we have nothing of the sort. Nothing is happening. The masks have become embedded into this hunk of meat that we call a head. If this exhibition was a book, the figures might be referred to as wooden. Harshly carved, built up of stereotypical shots, uncomplicated, so much so that they're transparent. If it were a photograph, we'd be fascinated by the pure sensibility that Branas applies to how the scene is framed. If this were a meal, surely it would be a pineapple salad. Nothing meshes with anything else, but the mayonnaise draws it all together in a single lump. It is just a spontaneous encounter by a fountain. Or, in other words, a ceremonial get-together at the urinal.

The heads rise like balloons: watermelons set atop marble trunks or cabbages stuck on a fence. It appears that we're looking at human heads, but that isn't the case. We are sitting inside them. Inside the head of the stupefied Freddy Durkee, who is compelled to contemplate everything around him, whether he wants to or not. We spin around in our chairs and pummel through the narrow tunnels of the imagination, as one flows into the next. We peek at the caricatures of doppelgangers and these Gombrowiczian mugs. They aren't so much people without character or characteristics, but as Musil would have them, they are characteristics without people, rather. A world in which experience fills the scene and in divesting itself from its actor, eternity dripping. Because if there is the impression of reality, then there must be an impression of eventuality. Because the world would be remarkable if events tapered away without making a mark that they had even taken place. This is what Gombrowicz wanted, there is no escape from a mug other than another mug. Every day we wake up within a thousand tight souls with a view of the red sun and a rising moon. The infantile and infernal rump. Leaves on the bushes trembling in the gentle breeze.

Help! O, these cursed parts! O these bloodthirsty, terrifying parts, and so you have snatched me up again, there is no escape from you, ha, I'll hide away somewhere, what shall I do, o enough, enough, enough. This is a story of parts and parcels. A ceremonial encounter of parts witnessing the sunset. Of course, only partially and in part.

 

 




text: Anna Batko


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Fountain, copy of work by Marcel Duchamp or Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
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A chav Smoking A Cigarette, obiect:paper mâché, plastic, marble, steam
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Installation view
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on the left: Jump     on the right: A Solar Eclipse Viewing Mask
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A Solar Eclipse Viewing Mask, object: paper mâché, glass, silver 925
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We– We (I), object: paper mâché, sandstone, gold 585
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Untitled, object: paper mâché, bay leaves
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Dog In The Bushes, object: paper mâché, bay leaves, amarillo marble
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We – we (II), object: paper mâché, gold 585
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Model Of A Stereotype, object: paper mâché, sandstone
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Inhale and Exhale, objects: paper mâché, calabash, shellac varnish
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Ameinias and Narcissus, objects: paper mâché, shellac varnish, granite
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A Chav Smoking A Cigarette, object: paper mâché, plastic pipe, steam
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Boss
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detail
The Three Heads In The Shade
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A human head with a face resembling the full moon, object: paper mâché, shellac varnish, marble
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Flower Vendor, photography 34x20cm, X-ray image
Flower Vendor, object: paper mâché, shellac varnish, marble
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View for an exhibition
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Fountain/Head, photography 71x60cm, X-ray image

PRESS

Photos: Przemek Branas, Bartosz Górka