NEWS 05 09 2022
On Tuesday, Central Europe Cinema will enter its final part with a spatial installation by the world-famous Polish visual artist Mirosław Bałka - The Teddy Bear in Otwock.
Mirosław Bałka, an exceptional personality of the Polish as well as global art of the transformation period, today rarely engages human figure as such. This is even though his work is essentially about human perception of the world. Ultimately, he is a sculptor, an artist moving in space and revising space. Instead, he chooses a placeholder, creating a conceptual or imaginative construction, in the centre of which he places a reduced symbolic element whose task is to locate history within the limits of lived reality and its ordinary experience. The fragments of the family house-studio, located in Otwock, Northern Poland, thousands of times touched everyday objects or even the measure of ones own body, do not receive abstraction but residualisation – they become nodal points, sources of trauma, they are things in themselves. And they follow us in our actions.
One of these marginal entities is the teddy bear, a toy found in the remains of Otwocks childhood room. A reminder of a different dimension of life, but also of the universality of human life. Who among us hasnt had a teddy bear like this? Or experienced feelings of fear, alienation, and shared joy with it? Who has not associated the same with their own home? The imaginary place of a still naive childhood, in which we are not responsible for ourselves, but listen to others, accept their vision of the world, their conception of the past and the events that emerge from it, from which and among which we seek the foundations of our own history?
Bałkas greatest talent does not lie in the evocation of strong emotions, in a pathos directly proportional to the degree of collective suppression of conscious realities, in which one can, in the end, be quite content to wallow. It is due to his capacity for distance – the use of a strong aesthetic language and the combination of contradictory, internally opposing strategies. A minimal gesture? Maximum space. Soap as a means of cleansing? But also, a thing that touches the “dirtiest” places - the ones we want to wash off our own bodies. A teddy bear as a friend? More an element of defiance, of gentle prodding and absurdity. The intellectual game we become part of thanks to Bałka, a game about our own conception of the world, is magnificent, the more complex the greater the reduction that precedes it. Comfort is not to be found in it at all. But it can teach us a lot.
Mirosław Bałka: Teddy Bear in Otwock, 1998, 4 x 24 slides, spatial installation