May You Live in Better Times


  • Próba 2020, Art Gallery of Jan Tarasin, Kalisz 2020

The state of global affairs, with the current pandemic, isolation and social distance made me try to visualize this reality, intertwined with my thoughts and emotions awakened by it. The scholarship project financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage “May You Live In Better Times – Obyś żył w lepszych czasach” is a reference to last year’s Venice Biennale, the theme of which was “May You Live In Interesting Times – Obyś żył w ciekawych czasach”. Today it evokes a completely different reflection. The Biennale’s leitmotiv is even more poignant in the wake of the spectacle of change we are forcefully witnessing.

My response to the situation at hand is an object entitled “The Pandemic Human/The Pandemic Man”. The figure shows a silhouette that is elusive and disproportionate, covered by outer layers resembling a makeshift cocoon. The material is glass-like, and mirrors a form of organic matter. Parts of it are translucent, which enables the viewer to peek inside and see the deeper layers inside. The pose of the character is dynamic, as if it was fighting something invisible and suddenly surrendered, freezing in a vulnerable, defensive position. While I was sculpting, I envisioned the stone and ash silhouettes of people found in Pompeii. They are evidence not only of a catastrophe that occurred almost two thousand years ago, but also of the expression that accompanies people before death, especially in a fight as dramatic as that one. The face is the single identifying element, but it has been entrenched in a thick coating. Its eyes are sleepily closed – that is how I perceive the current reality, as semi-consciousness briefly before sleep or awakening, with a lack of possibilities resulting in subsequent days merging into one.

The design is completed by casts of single-use protective gear, masks and gloves. They have been exhibited in glass cases like museum artifacts, the relics of our time.

Project was realized under the scholarship of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Poland