October 22, 2014 - Nottingham Contemporary - Raphael Hefti and Agnieszka Polska
October 22, 2014

Raphael Hefti and Agnieszka Polska

Left: Agnieszka Polska, I Am the Mouth II (still), 2014. Film. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Zak | Branicka, Berlin. Right: Raphael Hefti, 2014. Image courtesy the artist, Ancient&Modern and RaebervonStenglin.

Raphael Hefti
Agnieszka Polska

18 October 2014–4 January 2015

Nottingham Contemporary 
Weekday Cross
Nottingham NG1 2GB 

www.nottinghamcontemporary.org

Raphael Hefti has a highly distinctive approach to experimentation with industrial materials. He has a fascination with manufacturing processes and often invents his own in order to achieve new results. His works blur boundaries between the natural and industrial, the abstract and the concrete. He collaborates with technicians, scientists, and even dogs, in order to reveal unexpected beauty in ordinary materials.

For his solo exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary he visited a series of industries in the East Midlands, triggering an interest in the treatment of metals. In this coming together of high tech and heavy metal, Hefti references processes that otherwise remain invisible, but which form the crucial substructure of contemporary culture.

A series of sculptural tubes exploit the transformative qualities of heat on various metals, including copper, titanium and steel. For his photograms Hefti dusts standard photo paper with “witch powder” or Lycopodium—flammable moss spores that combust when they are lit, directly exposing photosensitive paper. The finished results display explosions of colour that look like images of the cosmos—the fabric of our world.

Hefti’s iridescent glass pane sculptures are made from special anti-reflective glass, intended to be invisible. Hefti renders the invisible visible, intervening in the process of manufacture to create “his” product. On 5  November, Raphael Hefti will be presenting a performance at Nottingham Contemporary.

A catalogue produced by JRP Ringier will accompany the exhibition.
 
Agnieszka Polska’s dreamlike videos explore time and memory. Born in Poland in 1985, she is interested in obscured histories and cultural myths, particularly those of vanished artists. She rescues, embellishes and re-animates events that are on the verge of oblivion, using a narrative style that is both serious and playful.

Agnieszka Polska sees the archive as a living organism, “alive and subject to incessant change,” a space for forgetting, distorting and superseding facts. It is in these gaps in collective memory that legend and myth thrive. In her video Future Days, dead artists from different generations meet in the afterlife. Masked characters play Paul Thek, Jerzy Ludwiński, Włodzimierz Borowski, Lee Lozano, Charlotte Posenenske, Andrzej Szewczyk, and Bas Jan Ader. Each were mythologised through their sudden disappearance from the art world. Filmed on the remote Swedish island of Gotland, they wander through the timeless landscape. Traces of past artworks include Robert Smithson’s “lost” artwork Partially Buried Woodshed, which becomes a resting place for the artists overnight. Without fear of death, the artists are incapable of creativity, left with the imperfect memory of life on earth, diluting throughout eternity.

The influence that an artist can have over a viewer is fundamental to Polska’s approach. She encourages a meditative and contemplative viewing experience. Like ASMR, (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos, her work invokes an immediate physiological response, most prevalent in her new work, I am the Mouth II. An animated red mouth—a reference to Samuel Beckett’s theatrical production Not I—is half-submerged in turbulent water. The whispering mouth explains the physiological effect of sound. 

Watery Rhymes, a new digital animation commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary, explores how language is influenced by physics. It features a voiceover by artist David Bernstein and a soundtrack written specially for the work by acclaimed American musician Sun Araw. 

On 21 October, Agnieszka Polska will perform Future Days with her co-writer Sebastian Cichocki. 
The Agnieszka Polska exhibition is supported by The Polish Cultural Institute and Culture.pl, promoting Poland and Polish culture through art, music and design. www.culture.pl is the most comprehensive source of knowledge about Polish culture. The Raphael Hefti exhibition is supported by Pro Helvetia.


Raphael Hefti and Agnieszka Polska at Nottingham Contemporary
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