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And listen to the wind blow

01.07.2023 - 17:00 / Shefter Gallery, ul. Jabłonowskich 6

artists: Maria Pinińska-Bereś/Bettina Bereś, Przemek Branas, Krzysztof Gil, Emilia Kina, Katarzyna Kukuła, Cyryl Polaczek, Paulina Stasik, Jakub Julian Ziółkowski, curator: Kamil Kuitkowski


And Listen to the Wind Blow

Something is in the air.

In the universe of Jacek Dukaj’s The Old Axolotl, where all living organisms, from ancient sequoias, to human bodies, down to the tiniest microbes, perished, machines, housing the remnants of human consciousness loaded into their processors, use science to recreate nature,  for the absence of the natural world has proven too agonizing. Yet, these machines, divided into factions and political groups (a tendency that never dies) embark on this endeavour through divergent means. As a result, a world of disparate natures emerges – strange, incompatible and  ephemeral.

In this realm, perhaps various kinds of air have taken shape, with winds colliding with each other. ‘Perhaps’, because air, by its nature, eludes representation. Even abstract art, which has tirelessly sought transcendence, appears to have fallen short. It has yet to grasp that ethereal moment when the air becomes tangible, caressing our cheeks, purifying our souls, or carrying the scent of burning.

In a world devoid of the sacred, where literature, and therefore art, as Julia Kristeva writes in The Powers of Horror, has taken its place, culture fulfills the human need for spirituality. It may very well be that in the world where nature withers, art assumes the role of a conduit that allows us to experience it, with one being able to transform into the other. Just as trunks of the trees in sacred groves, guided by the hands of the early architects, metamorphosed into gleaming columns that grace the temples with their radiance to this day, and the form of rolled-up drapes, protecting us against sun and wind, have given rise to the volutes that adorn the capitals.

The realm of art has the potential to become a modern sanctuary of nature, a place where one can bask in the whispers of the wind, purify their soul, and find solace. Built atop a hill by a certain Catherine (possibly the one of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights), whom PJ Harvey serenades in The Wind, from which the exhibition takes its title.

Mierle Ukeles wrote in her own commentary on the Manifesto for Maintenance Art as follows:

“We have always talked about revolution and changing society through art. I felt that if the entire focus of the museum’s work were devoted to caring for others, tending to society, and nurturing the Earth, people would perceive this issue in a radically different way. I felt that museum could become a supporting pillar, a practical institution that facilitates this monumental change – a secular church that deals with the matters of life and death.“

And Listen to the Wind Blow endeavours to forge a communal ‘realm of existence’ amidst the interacting works of participating artists, their paintings, films, sounds and composed scents. It serves as a distinctive sanctuary for contemplating the air and listening to the wind, as well as a shared concern for oneself and others. Its purpose is to counter the stifling summer atmosphere of the urban milieu and establish a space of being amidst the ‘tangible air’, where the line between nature and culture, the external and internal, the animal and human, the living and mechanical, the sacred and profane becomes blurred. Perhaps this is the only way for us to confront yet another of our civilizational anxieties – solastalgia, the fear stemming from the destruction of ecosystems.

Kamil Kuitkowski