The starting point for the Things in common exhibition are the texts of Georges Perec in which he formulates his literary exploration of the concept of the “infra-ordinary”. Perec’s aim is the artistic elaboration of the material aspects of reality, drawing our attention to the banality of everyday life, to our immediate surroundings and the environment in which we live, and extracting from these surprising facts. This is the way Perec searches for the truth about humanity and its existence – in what is small, objectified and common.
The exhibition, based largely on works from the Grażyna Kulczyk Collection, but also building on it, mainly by including recent works by Polish and foreign artists, focuses on the subtle aspects of the way people function in a world of objects. Following up on basic questions asked by Perec about the materiality of being, the nature of things, the exhibition presents artworks that penetrate the “infraordinary”, as well as revealing the sometimes perverse, realistic tendencies present in Polish art today and directing the viewer’s gaze towards the material world around him or her.
In our opinion, what is most interesting is the way different artists build their own non-obvious hierarchies of things and how these hierarchies are reflected in their work. The previously-mentioned Georges Perec notes, “What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms.” He also suggests: “Make an inventory of your pockets (…). Question your teaspoons. What is there under your wallpaper? How many movements does it take to dial a phone number?” A similar “research” perspective can very often be seen in the works of young artists, who make use of the everyday as material for their art, revealing hidden layers. In the text “Unfolding the couch on the couch’s terms”, the young artist Gisela Mickiewicz writes: “A frail object needs to be treated differently. It takes its strength from the fact that it is imperfect. It fails to be itself (a member of the family of objects to which it belongs), and acquires individuality, personality. It becomes this precise object. It imposes the terms by which it functions. It forces you to reckon with it.”
The exhibition is built upon three key foundations. The first one consists of works in which an everyday object is analyzed, destroyed, broken down into individual parts and reassembled in new configurations. The second side of the exhibition consists of ephemeral installations, home “shady” domestic activities, momentary interventions in which the relationship between the artist and the object is at times very personal and intense – performative, one might say. The third foundation of the exhibition is works focused on an abstracted detail taken out of its normal environment, often shown out-of-scale, which through this artistic gesture generates whole new meanings and surprising associations.
In each case, a material element of everyday life – an object, matter, texture – provides the starting point for a work that exists in the imagination. Not being limited to mere observation, it evolves in non-obvious directions and ultimately reattunes the viewer’s sensitivities. The world of everyday, familiar and banal things and people’s behaviour in relation to them, the manner in which they are used, are reconfigured.
The exhibition has been made possible through collaboration between Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk and Galeria Stereo.