The Centre for Contemporary Arts,
Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
From May 21 till June 25, 1999
The lesson of a fast landscape
- photography, istallation
The lesson of a fast landscape. (Beyond the horizon).
Photographing landscape has a strong tradition in Polish photography. There is no need to remind principles of the "Homeland Photography" developed by Jan Bu≥hak in the pre-war period or the achievements of so called Kielce School of Landscape of the 70's. Landscape together with portrait, nude and press photography belong to the most often "cultivated" kinds of contemporary photography despite changes introduced by rapid technological developments in picture recording.
These traditonally understood categories may become a starting point for attempts to find one's own interpretations. This way a landscape has become the main element of Kostas Kiritsis' work. He looks for his motifs both in a town and in nature. He is fascinated with material substance of dwelling blocks in huge urban settlements which were built mainly during last few decades, the settlements made of so called great prefabricates panels, where complete unification not only added to devastation of the environment but also has dehumanised links connecting a man with his surroundings. On the photographs-constructions by Kiritsis we can see faded phantom facades which fill the whole horizon completly, like they were sprouting one from another or reflecting like in a mirror their facades lacking any distinguishing features. The series of pictures taken from a speeding train may be seen as an attempt to escape this world of desolation. But the question is if the artist will succeed in his escape, if what we see behind the window is much different from what we have to live in. Certainly, from time to time there is some tree looming, farmsteads, but shortly after we are being taught again "the fast lesson of a landscape" dominated by the huge buildings with monotonous arrays of window holes reminding a science-fiction nightmare. And when finally we will reach the goal of our journey and will enter into strange wood ranges and marshes, some trees and tufts of grass, then everything seems to be a kind of remote dream, shining with the midday sun, reflected in water circles that move away.
There are not people in these pictures - there is emptiness of a space and homesickness. But one, the most recent series of photographs clipped tohether to make a book of which pages we can turn over, is filled with people up tu the brim. This series is called "Beyond horizon", a report from the artist's journey to Mongolia. Over there, in endless steppes, Kiritsis finds the threads already lost in our lattitudes. And he finds people too. He perpetualizes them like a press photographer during casual encounters in steppe, in their dwellings and cars, dressed in authentic costumes, hunting on horseback or just for a pleasure.These copper-tinted pictures reveal vital force. Their horizon, in spite of being only an extract, almost an impression of a distant country, is much more complete and rich - it lacks this almost abstract emptiness and monotony of landscapes of the great cities which usually are so very much alike.
Perhaps Kostas has found beyond the horizon something he is lacking here, in Warsaw or in New York, where he lives recently. Such searchings when transposed into photographs contained in books* become a recording and fixation of the place we happen to live in. The place upon which image of existence we usually have no influence at all.
* Kostas Kiritsis is realizing since some years series of photographs which besisdes that they may be hanged on a wall they can be also presented in a form of so called photographic books. The artist glues big photographs together to make individual pages of them and then puts the finished books on the tables to make them available easier. Of such form were also Kostas Kiritsis' works presented at his previous exhibition in Mala Gallery ZPAF-CSW in Warsaw. The present exhibition also comprises partly of books made in a similiar way and using the same technique.
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