The Forgetting of Proper Names
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In rural Poland the custom of renting professional mourners to appear at funerals prevails, their sung laments used to accentuate grief. For Anna Molska's film 'The Mourners', one of a generous selection of works by three early career Polish artists, she invited a group of these women into the cold vault-like gallery of the Centre for Polish Sculpture. Her camera watches as the close-knit group loosen into their seemingly purposeless occupation, talking of deaths both known and overheard, and dancing to stay warm, before lapsing into sorrowful song in front of a white sheet sculpturally fashioned to figure a dead man.
The choice piece in this group show, Molska's graceful portrait brings to the fore a thread that weaves throughout these practices – the reimagining of the past in direct relation to art's history. Melancholic and ruminating on issues of remembrance, Agnieszka Polska's monochromatic video 'Sensitisation to Colour' documents a 1968 performance by seminal Polish conceptualist Wlodzimierz Borowski. Similarly, her oneiric sequence 'Plunderer's Dream', a resplendent animation of illustrations from old textbooks and magazines, takes its lead from the post-war recollections of her grandfather.
Working in a different register, Wojciech Bakowski's abstracted animation (housed within a small one-viewer cabin), sound-piece and graphic works, comprise documents of a personal neurosis. An audio of a microphone ceaselessly scratching off a stubbly chin sits alongside dream-like translations of blotted patterns and geometric shapes, poetically drawing the viewer into a more idiosyncratic realm.
The effect of Bakowski's drawings comes to characterise the slightly off-kilter tone of the works on show, and although the showcase-like nature of this exclusively Polish exhibition is limiting, it remains an accomplished selection.