Marcin Janusz. Once upon a time… Life

Temporary exhibitions

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  • Sunday, February 25, 2024 - Sunday, March 24, 2024

When the tree roots want to speak, when a great many pasts, old novels and primeval stories are gathered beneath the turf, when too many breathless whispers are assembled beneath the roots, inarticulate pulp and that unbreathing darkness that is prior to all words, then the bark of the trees blackens and falls away in clumps, in thick flakes and deep slices; and through dark pores, like bearskin, their core is exposed.

This quote from Bruno Schulz seems to describe the essence of the exhibition. The way it transforms the history, collages mythologies and ideologies, connecting scientific hypotheses and dreamed fantasies into a cohesive narrative. "Once upon a time… life" is a fairy tale about shapeshifting and eco-sexual merging of bodies, interspecies potential in mud and primordial soup, where our ancestors float. It also delves into tribes, condemned to a hundred years of solitude, as in Marquez's world, with no second chance on Earth and an apocalypse that, detached from anthropocentric narratives, becomes a meaningless episode. A folk legend suggests that a hanged man posthumously sows his seed in the soil, and from it grows mandrake. It appears as an ordinary plant, but when pulled from the ground, it emits a scream that kills everything around. The exhibition, invoking this and other myths, scientific theories about the origin of life, revolves around alchemical and metabolic metamorphosis – the plastic matter that retains the memory of previous incarnations. It becomes part of a timeless and ahistorical tale. A story of the past that eerily resembles the future.

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