Magdalena Starska. Everything Keeps Vigil

The essence of Magdalena Starska’s work consists in an attempt to domesticate reality, interactions with one’s own imagination and with the society, whose paradigms (instant communication, pursuit of the accumulation of goods and ongoing growth) trigger anxiety, stress and states of depression. In an era that has transformed the public domain and intimacy into a setting of transactions, calculation and struggle for attention, Magdalena Starska encourages contemplation. The artist minimises stimuli and expectations, while the process of satisfying the need of interpersonal contact is broadened in her case to embrace the sphere of objects.

The bureaucracy of interpersonal relations and the sense of detachment provide a material that opens up the possibility to work through social alienation in order to bring contact with reality closer to relations based on trust, and to encourage the domesticated so-called external world to generate meaningful values. The exhibition at Kronika is devoted to the need of contact with oneself and the state of mind that renders the division between the subject and the object obsolete.

What is more, Everything Keeps Vigil is a reaction to the requirement of fast-paced and effective manipulation of information, constant readiness to make the best possible decisions in order not to fall out of circulation, while the project also concerns the emotional consequences brought by the pressure to act. On another note, the work delivers a commentary on the art world: torn between the need of profound reflection and the media politics that consists in multiplying sensations – a world that generates antagonisms and fuels intellectual and aesthetic raptures, whose sheer amount and pace dooms our prospect of complete participation and concentration to fail, while hampering any kind of analysis.

The first part of the exhibition is a space of idleness, minimisation of stimuli, and reduction of information noise, where a street broom whose bristles “grow” upwards turns out to be a participant of the events in its own right. At the same time, the exhibition is a place of passage, which offers employees and visitors a possibility to relax. In the second part, the artist invites us to act – to perform a manual, physical activity of planing; a work based on repeating specific movements that help achieve the state of deep concentration (flow). As we focus on a single mechanical activity, we lose our rational presence in reality; what is more, the sense of borders between living and dead matter becomes blurred.

Everything Keeps Vigil is also a perverse reference to the tradition of the gallery space treated as a temple of the arts. Artefacts do not demand worshipping, but they may be used as tools that serve contemplation. The division into contemplation and work may bring to mind monastic traditions, where it not only sets the rhythm of daily activities, but also becomes a spiritual practice in itself.

The opening features the first ever performance by Magdalena Starska’s band.

Band members:

Magdalena Starska
Aleksandra Winnicka
Gosia Sobczyk
Wojciech Hass

Magdalena Starska (1980) – performance artist, works with drawing and installation. Graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań in 2005 (diploma from Prof. Jarosław Kozłowski’s studio). Member of the Poznań-based group “Penerstwo” (artistic group of graduates of the Academy in Poznań set up in 2007, other members include: Piotr Bosacki, Wojtek Bąkowski, Konrad Smoleński, Radosław Szlaga, Tomasz Mróz and Iza Tarasewicz). Holder of the scholarship of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in the field of visual arts (2010); as a member of “Penerstwo”, Starska was awarded the TVP Kultura “Guarantees of Culture” award in the category of visual arts (2011).

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