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Opening Hours

Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm


Art Agenda Nova
Batorego 2, Krakow

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Agnieszka Polska


The starting point for the works presented in Nova Gallery is the authentic calendar published in January 1939, containing a series of practical tips and descriptions of duties on the farm in the coming year. The atmosphere of innocence and artificiality of idyllic plans that were probably never realized was transferred by the artist to two films and a series of drawings. The romantic adoration of rural life, which animates coincidentally with the ideals of “Blut und Boden” very quickly, turns into an anxious state of suspension and stillness.
“Denn das Schöne ist nichts / als des Schrecklichen Anfang” – “Because beauty is just the beginning of horror” (Rilke)

The faint, dormant life and the sensation of stopping time create a strange aura of waiting for a catastrophe, which can only be heard in disturbing swarms of insects appearing in bucolic landscapes. The only active component of the landscape is “unclean animals”, “flying four-legged insects” from the Book of Levens, symbol of plague, plague, disease but also sensuality, chuciness, shamelessness (after “Dictionary of symbols” by Władysław Kopaliński). Contamination and decay of civilization results in an explosion of unrestricted nature, and the space of infected landscapes flows smoothly into the psychic space.
The second film presented at the exhibition presents a slow, looping movement of human hair on the grass, which is a testimony of an activity that is difficult to identify, unknown purpose and also constitutes an aesthetizing form of the emotional state.

The trademark of the artist’s actions are subtle, almost imperceptible interventions in the material found (photos, illustrations) as well as constant interest in the subject of cleanliness and its contamination, dangerous
and simultaneously liberating eroticism, shaping the human individual.
The “Calendar” exhibition is the first individual presentation of Polish works, a third year student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.

Agnieszka Polska
Born in Lublin in 1985
2004-2005 studied at the Faculty of Arts of UMCS in Lublin. Currently, she is a graphics faculty student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow in the studio of Agata Pankiewicz, interdisciplinary workshop of Grzegorz Sztwiertnia and Zbigniew Sałaja, and the animation studio of Jerzy Kucia. He is interested in animated film, video and photography.

Participation in exhibitions:

2007 “16 things that could not be found”, artpol, Krakow, Poland
2007 “Associamoci”, Urbino, Italy
2008 “Blankly, perfect summer”, VertexList gallery, New York
Monika Ruszało

The “Calendar” by Agnieszka Polska, which presents Galeria Nova in Krakow, is an exhibition of works of various forms and techniques of performance, but oscillating around the same issues. Among these works, we find both drawings made with the simplest pencil crayons as well as a projection constructed from a series of scanned old photographs and a video record. Constructing ambiguity, skilful manipulation – evoked – associations and playing on emotions reveal the maturity of the artist, all the more intriguing, if we take into account the fact that Agnieszka Polska is still a student (she was born in 1985).

In the central hall of the Gallery are exhibited drawings made with crayons on the yellowed, as if aged, paper constituting exaggerations and reminiscences of illustrations from the old calendar, showing farm work and their effects. The scenes have a form as if they are being peeped through the keyhole of the wido (part) in the blurred framework. Next to the performance of a barefooted housewife walking through the bed and sieving, we can see a picture showing a hand presenting the raspberry fruit. Picture of a meadow with grazing cows and the face of a woman in the foreground is adjacent to the presentation of plants climbing around the frame or a naked strawberry collector. These innocent-naive drawings acquire new meanings when we get to know the context in which their original was created: the economic calendar appeared on the market in January 1939.

Premonition, prefigure is in our eyes: here is a frame with poles with plants growing around them, it begins to resemble a concentration camp fence, also showing a tent placed at night suggests association with the word “camp”. A hand showing ripe fruit seems to be a cut off member of the body, while a cross-section through the soil with the hand of a man planting a plant gives rise to the assumption that we can see a buried human corpse. Naked, crouching gardener can become a future prisoner (or is it?) Deprived of dignity as a prisoner, while a man climbing a fruit tree almost hangs on it like a gallows.

The second part of the exhibition is a projection composed of scanned, black and white photographs, in which the artist intervenes in two ways: putting the persons and objects depicted in micromances, which does not add life to them, even more strongly emphasizes the “dead nature” and introducing here various insects, which noises, along with the singing of birds can be heard in the background of shifting images – photographs. Amateur photos: people resting in the grass, fragment of the villa, the road to the forest to which we seem to approach, ducks flowing to the shore, moving on the darkening sky clouds, angler nodding on the stool follow one by one. Moving up or down the photograph, which aims to show it in its entirety, causes the feeling of anxiety caused by waiting for what may appear to our eyes (however what is shown is completely ordinary). The mood is skillfully built: anxiety intensifies under the influence of the violent and natural desire of the viewer to connect these scenes into a logical narrative sequence. The atmosphere of lethargy emanates from the photographs, the climate of a hot afternoon in the middle of summer is noticeable, while the photograph depicting a field with sheaves suggests the time in which the pictures were made – the harvest time, which takes place in August. Although we do not have information about when the photographs were created, we design the notorious and fatal annual date known to us from the first part of the exhibition, which makes them acquire the sense of inevitability and, at the same time, the impermanence of what is presented on them. At the same time, they strongly dazzle with horror: fragmentarly depicted female figures seem to us as shot victims (to which insects start to fly). Like a soldier from Charles Baudelaire’s poem “Sleeping in a Hollow”, he gives the impression of being asleep while in fact: “he has two pits of blood in his side”.

From Agnieszka Polska’s works, two main axes can be interpreted, around which the artist weaves a dense network of stories. They include reflection on time, its linearity and inevitability: questions about universal overtones are born: what are premonitions? Do they exist at all, or maybe we only interpret events in such a spirit post-fate? The second axis seems to be the problem of what breaks up the compact structure, what is pushed somewhere “beyond”, which is neglected by silence, certainly not obvious. Often the artist is pregnant towards the perversity, or rather what can be perceived by the user of culture as perverse. Especially in this respect, it seems to be emphasizing the sexuality of the child, which European culture has forced into the framework of innocence and a-sexuality. Freud’s reappraisals, fruitful in the scientific community, have not found a clear resonance in everyday life, as is the awareness of roots – antiquity, when, as Pascal Quignard writes (“Sex and fear”), the child was subjected to ritual sexual initiation by an adult. Children’s ambiguity in terms of sexuality at the exhibition most clearly expresses the photograph of a small boy sitting with his leg raised and (almost) showing the crotch. An equally accurate highlight of the problem are Agnieszka Polska’s works shown in May and June at the VertexList gallery in New York as part of the collective exhibition of Krakow artists “Blankly, perfect summer”, presenting corrective exercises with the participation of small, half-naked girls. To the issues related to the pure and unclean opposition (which Mary Douglas wrote in Purity and Dangeer years ago) one can also include the issue of insects appearing and moving in photographs, much more still, as if solidified, those real “still live”.

The exhibition ends with a video that can be viewed in the third room of the Gallery. It depicts long ears of grass, against which, at the bottom of the screen, shapes are constantly forming, sometimes resembling living creatures, half-amorphous, crawling. On the one hand, the abstract ones, at a closer look, turn out to be the hair of a woman – at times a fragment of her forehead can be seen. The rest of the character’s head is cut off by the frame. Black hair silk contrasts with the vivid green of the grass – mown or trampled. The question that arises automatically is: what happens to this violently winding figure? Dichotomy of aesthetic experience and emerging questions, because abstracting is not strong enough to keep us indifferent to the circumstances of the event, is a summary of the exhibition, a continuum of emotions experienced in watching-experiencing the “Calendar” by Agnieszka Polska.

Agnieszka Polska “Calendar”. Nova Gallery, Krakow, June 6 – July 15, 2008.