Dominik Lejman: Płot

Dominik Lejman: Płot

Galeria Miejska Arsenał

Dominik Lejman, Płot.

July 12, 2017
Dominik Lejman
June 23–July 23, 2017

rejected proposal for the 57th Venice Biennale 2017

project curator: Marek Bartelik

realization: Marek Wasilewski

Galeria Miejska Arsenał in Poznań presents Płot by Dominik Lejman—a project proposed for the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017.

Dominik Lejman’s exhibition Płot (Fence) was prepared in collaboration with curator Marek Bartelik for the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The project combines an aesthetically intriguing minimalist form with an exceptionally timely reflection on the state of geo- and biopolitics today. Płot is a video installation that can be interpreted as a monumental manifestation of total cinema and structural film. Dominik Lejman’s artwork, which he situates in the realm of painting, often draws on cinema as a metaphor. But the artist wants the light in his projection room to remain lit so that viewers don’t lose themselves in it, but instead experience themselves more intensively. The painting’s surface, a frequent subject of formal reflection in Lejman’s work, is also tied to the notion of projection, both in its physical sense and in its psychoanalytic and spiritualist dimensions, as well.

In the empty room, Płot is a projection “white-on-white,” “screen-on-screen,” in a continuous loop. The projection moves along clean white walls: from the original brightness in full illumination of the interior toward successive covering of the walls by a 360-degree moving image, animated clockwise by the invisible hand of the artist. During the screening the very first, white layer of projected welded wire fence successively merges with the following one, which is superposed on it to form a configuration of “fence on top of fence (płot na płocie)” until it covers all four walls of the pavilion with an even layer of white light, and thus the fence images disappear unperceptively, becoming a blank field indistinguishable from the background. The projection is cropped in such a way that it does not appear either on the entrance to the room, or on the exit door in the back of the room; thus both openings function as “gaps” in the fence.

Płot references the tradition of monochromes, in the context of structural cinema rather than the tenebrism of “from Malevich—to Reinhardt.” Dominik Lejman has commented on this aspect of his work:

A projection in a white, bright gallery space is a type of séance—an attempt to communicate with spirits. A projection—a deep, somewhat deceptive word, in Polish related to other words for such concepts as “to design,” “to picture,” “to call,” “to predict”… All [of those words] put us in a difficult situation in relation to the time span of the summoned image—which relates the past or future to the present of the projection, to the very moment [when it occurs], and to illumination. It is like a cinema with the light turned on…

Through the specificity of a “séance,” the gallery space, as an exhibition space, is also a forum for a discussion about art itself. And here the word “płot” (the closest word in English is “fence”) acquires major significance. Fence delineates boarders, just as wall does. In the previous century, the word “wall” took on a metaphoric form, serving as keywords to express the division of Europe along two antagonistic ideologies (the Berlin Wall), and the formalistic (aesthetic) model of painting, in reaction to the traditional understanding of its illusionary space as a window. Subsequently, the formalistic model of an artistic wall was juxtaposed with the convention of a grid.

Płot relates to the convention of grid-on-wall, without limiting it to purely formalistic discourse; it proposes to expand that discourse into the psychological realm, including the viewer’s perception, therefore adopting a perspective related to his/her broader ethical condition. In this context, the rustic familiarity (and banality) of the Polish word “płot” sharpens, which allows viewers to perceive the work Płot in terms of building specific barriers, and to interpret them as the projections of our traumas and xenophobia, both archetypal and historical, in which spirit and spirituality are fused into a bizarre socio-religious entity. Hence, the appearance of Płot in the Polish pavilion in Venice must reflect an ethical perspective; by doing so it must attract the viewer’s attention to the problem of the absence of the Other, or the Stranger, in Polish society—but not only that, because this subject can be also related to the division of the Biennale into pavilions, which creates a sort of grid that emphasizes and, at the same time, strives toward eliminating national distinctions.

(from the catalogue text)

Dominik Lejman was born in Gdańsk in 1969. His work has been shown internationally. Exhibitions include After the Wall, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1999) / Hamburger Bahnhoff – Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin (2000), 1st Prague Biennale (2003), Polish Pavilion at the 9th Venice Architecture Biennale (2004), Still / Motion, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography / National Museum of Art in Osaka (2008), Prague Triennale (2008), CORPUS, Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw (2014). Lejman’s works can be found in the collections the Centre for Contemporary Art Zamek Ujazdowski in Warsaw, Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, variety of public spaces like Cleveland Clinic collection, as well as in many private collections.

Marek Bartelik is a Polish-born, New York-based art critic, art historian, and poet. Between 1994 and 2014, he was a regular contributor to Artforum—for which he wrote reviews from near 30 countries on four continents. He currently serves as the XVth President of AICA International, an association of art critics with the global membership of 5000 in 63 national sections on five continents.

Presentation of the Płot project will be the part of the EGS Symposium in Venice at Isola San Servolo, July 29–31, 2017.

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Galeria Miejska Arsenał
July 12, 2017

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