Absolute beginners

curator: Anna Smolak
co-ordinator: Małgorzata Miśkowiec
BWA Sokół Gallery, Nowy Sącz, Poland, 23 January–1 March 2015

A glass-covered staircase of a three-story building of the BWA Sokół contemporary art gallery in Nowy Sącz, Poland, has been inhabited by messenger pigeons (at the time when they are also living in cages waiting for the exhibition season). They could be seen and heard through a glass-paned expanse of walls, but they could not be reached. The main passageway of the gallery had been cut off, and display rooms remained empty. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication and an educational programme.

Architectural compositions are barely perceptible interventions into buildings, whose force of impact lies in a combination of media of a radically different weight: monumental and solid, architectural forms and non-figurative sounds. A critical potential of the work is never directly expressed, but transpires in a disclosure of tension between the enduring and the ephemeral, the palpable and the fleeting, the available and the excluded; in its capacity to disrupt a hierarchy of use and a perception of space. Waves and vibrations they produce form an element of reception and a description of reality.

When birds inhabited the space of stairs, the grand, glass cabinet, hollowing the building, was amassing an alien energy. The tightly closed room precluded the energy from breaking out. Sole images which filtered in were fragments of the cityscape, including the winter-hibernated nature. The glass pane isolated and produced a distance. It set a limit between the two suggested realities. The dissonance has also been underscored by an acoustic layer. The transparency and superimposed worlds of the external and the internal image create a visual collage, separating us sonically from the source of sound: a mute image producing a soundless sonic composition, where the image furnishes us with an understanding of what transparency means in reference to sound.

Absolute Beginners / Całkowicie początkujący is a piece about a pre-emptied communication. It is a precise procedure performed on the addressee’s habits, their expectation and tendency to idealization, which are continuously verified by crashes with reality.

The piece was produced thanks to openness and involvement of the local community of homing pigeon fanciers in Nowy Sącz, Poland. [description based on a curatorial text]