Iwo Rutkiewicz

LETO Gallery

November 13, 2007

Iwo Rutkiewicz
Estonian Sunset

November 17 –

December 10, 2007

Opening: Friday,

November 16, 7.00 PM



Iwo Rutkiewicz’s art is constructed on a crack. It is based on skeptical contemplation and reflection upon the dissonance between culturally constructed knowledge and fulfillment and their actual unattainability. Rutkiewicz likes to lead the viewer to the pictures and forms which are both perfect and sterile, he likes to charm by means of perfectly finished objects or immovable frames, just in order to cross them out, point out to immanent forgery they contain and to destroy them uncompromisingly. The subversion penetrates all his works, it is a feature of his intellect, which seems to detest the lack of control over the work and which appropriates it radically. Rutkiewicz has a tendency to organize the elements into groups and categories in an analytical way, which may be the reason for the first, hermetic impression his art makes. However, the epistemological impulse is the area for free experimentation, irony and imagination. Therefore, it would be fair to cross the initial difficulties and have a closer look at his work, as Rutkiewicz is simply a demanding discussion partner, who communicates without any haste, but with high level of precision.

The starting point for the latest Rutkiewicz’s works are the previously known pictures made of foil and the later curtains: pictures embroidered on common painting foil which represent figures staring at the sun. The ideas contained in these works were the springboard for the videos. What remains valid is the dichotomy between the natural and the artificial, the final gesture of negation (finely embroidered curtains are “scratched”) and also the motif of suspended attention, melancholic relation with the nature.

The title video of the exhibition: Estonian Sunset is a postcard-like still image, which is a set of a surprisingly extraordinary performance. The setting sun does not take its typical way, the rhythm of the nature is disturbed by a perfectly camouflaged interference: is what we see a trick, or some “Estonian” excess of nature?

Imperceptibly, Rutkiewicz engages the viewer in a game. While watching his video works we become very suspicious — we are looking for image manipulation, the watching process is accompanied by permanent insecurity concerning the authenticity of the presentation and increasing doubts as to the point of view and duration of the processes.

These manipulations — by image and perception — are of various scale. Sometimes they are highly noticeable and they emphasize the artificiality of the situation — just like the White Tourist (Kitchen), where the author himself levitates freely above the ground browsing a magazine. Sometimes, however, such manipulations boil down to a delicate suggestion. Nevertheless, it is no wonder Rutkiewicz claims that for him the perfect situation would be to create a work deprived of all tricks and based solely on penetrating observation. The work which is the closest to achieving this ideal is White Tourist (Planet): it is a vision of an iced mountain constructed only by means of editing. This work is symptomatic for all the film works of the artist and contains all its basic elements. The real-life material — recorded on a winter trip — is cut and reedited, so that while keeping the form of tourist relation, it raises arguments for the sake of perspective which varies from reality — in this case a visit on the moon/ on another planet. This example discloses in the fullest way the poetic properties of this art and its ability to jump from the facts to imagination.

The artist does not only record the reality, but also, taking advantage of the eye of a cameraman and the ear of a musician, leads visual field recordings in order to structure the obtained material into complex and intentional whole. Therefore, Rutkiewicz’s sampling varies from the strategy with which we tend to associate him, as the course he chooses are not the media pictures taken from the second hand shop of culture, but direct images of nature or civilization. Sampling does not have the character of a play (though it does involve the sense of humor), it excludes randomness and takes form of an intellectual puzzle. The issues of key importance are the editing and the mastership with which the author uses this tool. The questions about reality are strictly connected with the issues of technology and its representation.

In the work 1974-2007, a skyscraper in Wroclaw is disintegrated and at the same time it obtains organic features: it trembles, shakes and undergoes transformation. Rutkiewicz captures the intermediary stage of deconstruction, where disassembly and construction are difficult to distinguish. The artist applied a similar confusion in his juxtaposition of sunrise and sunset and while filming a kitchen motionlessness of a

tourist — homebody.

A tourist is a figure chosen by Rutkiewicz as the main subject of his art. All the videos are made from the perspective of the leisure time and suspension which is connected with it — being at a place which is unknown/banal/exciting. The video White Tourist (Tiredness), complementary to the triptych, says it straight. Chaotic and unstable takes of the sky and the gothic edifice, clamor and kaleidoscope of broken images are contrasted with a charming postcard with the view of the cathedral, which matches the expectations of the tired viewer. The artist seems to establish that there is always a tempting alternative to active perception — a professionally prepared National Geographic guidebook.

Rutkiewicz makes the tourist universal — according to him, this word does not only mean the specific (off-work) condition of a human, but ironically (and precisely) describes the way of participation in the world which is adequate to human cognitive abilities. It reflects the human spiritual condition and a mood of unpretentious curiosity — a mixture of potential admiration and high expectations concerning the quality of “tasted” situations, places, views and versions of existence. (by Michal Lasota)

LETO Gallery

ul. Hoza 9c,

Warsaw, Poland

tel. (+48 22) 499 59 16

[email protected]