WYRD ROAD I Justyna Smoleń & Radek Szlęzak

Rooter Gallery I 18.06 – 20.07

curator: Janek Owczarek

photography: Filip Rybkowski

There was a time, several hundred years ago, when the word ‘wyrd’ was used instead of ‘weird’. It meant a powerful force – a destiny that shapes and bends the lives of individuals and the entire world. Today, it simply means something strange. 

There was a time, several thousand years ago, when Neanderthals deep in the Bruniquel cave in France created an astonishing structure using intentionally broken and burnt stalagmites. To this day, it is not exactly known why. And now? The expression ‘wyrd’, along with the fatalistic concept of human life behind it, has faded into oblivion. As for the Neanderthals, they remain as a few scattered bones, tools, and 1 to 4 percent of DNA passed down to modern humans.

The latest works of Justyna Smoleń and Radek Szlęzak – while maintaining all thematic and formal differences between them – symbolically resurrect both of these ancient themes. The artworks of this duo primarily embrace the category of fragmentation, dismemberment, and attempts to reassemble into a whole.

In Smoleń’s ceramic works, selected fragments of festive, familiar vessels and figurines are combined and transformed into completely new forms, as if frozen in organic rock formations. In Szlęzak’s works, the characters in their apotemnophilic fervor proudly sever their own limbs, presenting them like trophies.

In the cave, society, and the artist’s studio, the same fundamental questions may arise. What does it mean to be a part of a larger whole? How much can be subtracted to preserve a superior quality? Should incompatible parts be intertwined at all costs? What is the role of destiny and ritual in all of this? Humorous answers hide behind the mocking smiles of men with severed hands and fish holding beer mugs in their mouths. 

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the legend of this exhibition. Justyna Smoleń and Radek Szlęzak invite you for a ride.

Janek Owczarek