LETO Gallery

February 15, 2008

Good news and bad news
Nine aspects from the life of a fish

February 22, 7.00 PM
February 22 – March 10, 2008

Staszek Koba is an unpredictable artist. Almost every time, he manages to surprise us with the variety of styles he employs in his art in order to understand, familiarize and organize our world, which is full of paradoxes and absurdities. This time it is an installation. According to his own words, GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS is a kind of ritual art, thus, due to its nature, it abounds in symbolic content. The main protagonist is a fish – one of the archetypical symbols of Christianity, which takes its messiah-related meaning from the pre-Christian Judaism. The title of the work is also associated with the Scripture. In the end, we are the people of the Book and, whether we believe it contains the inspired truth revealed by the Highest Instance or not, this tradition has shaped, to a huge extent, our secret language. However, a fish – the emblem of Christ, Saint Mary, baptism and Eucharist is a very broad symbol. Depending on culture and time, it meant both life and immortality, as well as death; promiscuity and purity, wisdom and stupidity, fertility and decay, freedom, abundance, greed and destruction. It has personified the beginning and the end. The highest good and the worst evil. Today, in the Staszek’s installation, its form has also gained new meanings. It appears in three stone shapes: Upward oriented DEPARTURE–FISH brings on associations with a rocket, the symbol of the conquest of the universe and the progress of the mankind. The downward oriented RAID-FISH becomes a bomb, a symbol of destruction which is also connected with technological progress. So, what is it like? The same progress (whatever the word actually means) is the source of both good and evil. The same rich culture and civilization deriving from Judeo-Christian tradition, personified here by the shape of the fish, which is based on stable system of values (or, at least, we would like to believe it to be so) produces both good and evil? How is it possible? Why does it happen? These questions seem to bother Staszek a lot. However, according to him, the world does not operate within the primitive bipolar dialectics. That would be too simple. As a result, we have three fishes. Moreover, actually it is the same fish in extreme situations (Staszek calls it a tri-unity). The third fish — a horizontally placed FLOATING-FISH is a silent witness of our actions. It is a fish of great importance: it personifies the qualities which allow us to survive. There is also a fourth fish — a virtual projection on a videobanner called TIME. It rotates around its own axis at the speed of the hour hand demonstrating various symbolic poses. It seems to be like its companions, but it is not made of stone: it is a light illusion — when the projector is off, it ceases to exist. But the banner, a square piece of white painting canvas, remains. The empty picture (after all, Staszek is a painter) which may be later filled with anything we can imagine or may remain blank forever. Is it a vanitative banner which is to remind us about our vanity, fragility and the passing of time? I don’t know. I — we — also don’t know who actually determines the position of the fish. However, this surely isn’t a story about the defeated world, as at the very centre of the cross (or maybe the axis of coordinates? – symbolic speculations may be multiplied forever), whose ends are marked with symmetrically placed fish, there is the SOURCE — a granite well filled with milk. And the milk is a sign of life, a symbol of immortality, purification, hope, truth and love. The fact that the elements of the system were made of neatly processed granite it highly important, even though, prima facie, a similar effect could be achieved with the use of polystyrene foam and some paint. Apart from the fact that Staszek can’t stand trash in art, this material has is of highly symbolic value. Among the unusual abundance of often contradictory meanings, stone is a symbol of duration (and also of our survival) and of the primary reason. It also plays an important role in the biblical tradition. A stone was used as the first altar on which Jacob placed his head when he dreamt of the ladder. Also Peter the Apostle, the bedrock, is the cornerstone of all the Church. Nevertheless, a stone is also one of the first human weapons — a tool of murder, punishment and martyrdom. There is also the Sisyphean stone — the symbol of our everyday struggle… Therefore, once again we come across the tri-unity and the idea of the fish: How does it happen that it can be a bomb, a rocket and survival simultaneously? Finally, at the end, in a separate room, just like in a sanctuary, a granite slab — lonely MEMORY is locked (we should bear in mind that stone is a symbol of memory as well). Its form makes us think of a mailbox. Maybe in that place, in its inaccessible interior, there is a list from the Highest Instance which contains the answers to the
Great Questions?

Text: Wawrzvniec Brzozowski

LETO Gallery
Director: Marta Kolakowska
ul. Hoza 9c,
Warsaw, Poland
tel. (+48 22) 499 59 16, +48 501 696 440
[email protected]