Current and announcment

”Turning Points” — an exhibition of works by Michalina Bigaj in Small Space

What Michalina Bigaj has created in the gallery is a calm space that invites us to reflect upon climate emergency. But there is no point looking out for fancy diagrams, charts or research reports – you will not see any of these. The artist has no intention of finding a safety exit or a remedy for the looming climatic disaster. Instead, she steadily proceeds to build gloomy metaphors of the future, narrating a tale set in micro contexts. Her story could easily pass unnoticed in its everyday surroundings.

The Greek etymology of the word catastrophe refers to a sudden end, as well as to a change. The geological research confirms that the Earth has already suffered from five similar catastrophic blows which have changed life on its surface. These mass extinction periods were the end of (a certain) world but also, each time they made way for a new era – and when the Anthropocene epoch is over, the place of the extinct Homo sapiens will also be taken by other, less vulnerable species.

The artist follows this particular lead, immersing herself in dark ecology and pondering on the baffling notion of nature, which has been changed, re-designed and devastated for centuries. The most disturbing part of her work is the recurring apocalyptic sight of a river on fire, which is a striking depiction of the upset order of nature and a woeful signal that the world as we know it is coming to its end. When life-supporting water changes into the destructive fire, our imaginations can easily build a scenario where the earth is bare and unpopulated, and the landscape is buried under a black layer of toxic sludge.

This sneaking anxiety seems to be a shared experience for the entire community. When faced with a threat, the group turns to reflect upon the simple act of breathing. With its circular rhythm, breathing distorts the usual border of our body, which has so far supported our self-recognition, helping us discern that which is outside from that which is inside. Breathing challenges our conviction about us being unusual, separate beings – and it turns our focus to interconnections between various species. So alongside breathing metaphors, there appear – although they have not been erected yet – statues in recognition of bacteria, fungi, plants, animals, water, soil and water, and these statues represent a model of new solidarity, in which no species is granted a special status. We all share the same polluted air, contaminated water and food.

Curator Marta Lisok

Michalina Bigaj — born in 1991, lives and works in Kraków. She has graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. In her works, she looks into the interrelation between nature and mankind and she wants to emphasise the disturbed balance between modern civilisation and nature. Her works encompass sculptures, objects, installations and photographs. Her artistic output has been presented in many art institutions in Poland and abroad, including Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow MOCAK , Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, BWA Gallery of Contemporary Art in Katowice, The National Museum in Szczecin, Polish Institute in Düsseldorf and MeetFactory in Prague.

Opening of the exhibition — 24 November 2021, from 5pm 17:00.
The exhibition will last until 19th of December, 2021.