Interview: Jacek Zachodny | ITSLIQUID

Interview: Jacek Zachodny

Interviews | April 6, 2023 |

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

Interview: Jacek Zachodny
Luca Curci talks with Jacek Zachodny, during the 16th Edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at Palazzo Bembo.

Jacek Zachodny was born in Wroclaw, Poland in 1969. A graduate of the local Academy of Fine Arts, he also studied Archaeology at the University of Wroclaw. He works with installation, objects, painting, video, performance, actions in public spaces and socio-artistic projects. He has made videos for theatre performances, e.g. “The Rainbow Tribune” by Monika Strzępka and Paweł Demirski. In his practice, he often addresses the issues of memory, past and transience, but above all, he is interested in interpersonal relationships. He is a regular contributor to Rita Baum, an art magazine, and author of the book Elektryka duszy [Electrics of the Soul]. He co-runs the ArtBrut Gallery in Wroclaw, working with artists with intellectual and motor disabilities.

HERE AND NOW. A sense of guilt accompanies many people throughout their lives. In today’s times marked by pandemics, forced migration, the war in Ukraine, inflation and the energy crisis, the opportunity to go on holiday, to be in paradisiacal surroundings, can be combined with feelings of guilt towards all people who are struggling for elementary rights or physical survival. The video ‘Here and Now’ alludes to this dilemma. In times of struggle and shortages, do we have a moral right to take a holiday, to stay innocently in a shrinking zone of ‘luxury’? The Buddhist land of ‘gods and demigods’ does not welcome everyone and other worlds that one would like to forget for a while enter the imaginary land of happiness.

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Jacek Zachodny – The experience of living in the country ruled by the military dictatorship in the eighties naturally pushed me, a young seeker, into areas of avant-garde, artistic underground and fighting the system. It was a natural choice to keep myself free and independent. I also think that the ordeal of my family, which was an emigrant family for over one hundred years as a result of wars and border changes, running away from somewhere and having to start all over again every generation. Such a family experience undoubtedly sensitises. Maybe that is also why I work so well while travelling, on the move, and outside of context. Of course, it happens that current events influence my artistic choices. Death of a dear person, for example, spiritual experiences, political or social events and nearby war contribute to my projects and artworks.

LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
JZ – It is a very complicated way, full of turbulences and turnings. There are different dynamics at different times. Even though I use a lot of artistic forms of expression all activities are consistent, I suppose. Through art glass, video, objects, performance, site-specific activities, artistic activities at the junction of social activities and writing, all this maintains margins of consistency. It seems to me that search and experiment and hence transformation are positive features of artists.

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

LC – How is your creative process?
JZ – There are projects that I think about for a long time. I prepare and implement them for some time, sometimes I leave them for the time being to come back to them later. There are also things requiring immediate response and action. They are more momentary, more at the present time. I work in different places. In my apartment or in the studio. Often on the go as well, in areas of other cultures and meanings. I realise a lot of ideas, projects, works and insights outside the studio, apart from their contexts. Every working technique conveys a certain layer of ideas, it exists not in the area of competition but complements each other, I am vulnerable to the outside world, too. I try to participate directly in it. In my video works, I appreciate the stage of acquiring film material. I usually try to use my recordings. Reaching many places and people scattered around the world is related to that. I also carry out projects at the junction of art and prosocial activities. Working with economically disadvantaged communities in the area of exclusion and threats. Thus my creative process is heterogeneous and multi-layered. What may be common is that when the action takes place I work without limit, I am fully committed.

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
JZ – Of course, I need dialogue with the outside world. Being an artist I communicate, and debate with the world through my works. What comes out of my studio, to some very large extent, no longer belongs to me. Contact with the audience is always associated with new discoveries and looking at my works in a different, unexpected and surprising way.

LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
JZ – Like all people also artists are not free from the times in which they live. The present reality is very dynamic and variable even by comparison with a decade or two ago. However, it seems to me that you can follow your path regardless of the times. Volatility is inscribed in our existence. This is why while listening to the pulse of the world I try to communicate with it through art, look for solutions, create and participate.

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
JZ – The first work “Soil” is a video installation. It was once presented at the exhibition Ritual at the University of Wrocław. Of course, it is associated with war, massacre, and burying a dead body that carried life just a moment before. It is rooted in real events happening several hundred kilometres from where I live. I also have friends and contacts there. I did not want this work to be just about murder, a war crime in this case. I introduced a factor that suggests the cycle of nature, eventually, we will all return to soil anyway. Singing birds also suggest that scary things do not always happen in scary places. It is often a beautiful landscape, a wild forest, a clearing or a lovely wasteland. The second work “Here And Now” also refers to the war situation but in a completely different way. It poses a question of how safe I can feel and enjoy this condition when there is a war going on in a neighbouring country where I have friends. What to think about it, how to enjoy your little stability or your holiday. The video shows mirror land which is beautiful and dangerous at the same time. Where war has not arrived the sun is shining and laughter can be heard. An alternative world of anxiety, alarms, sirens and shots emerges.

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
JZ – The works I chose directly relate to the theme of the exhibition. In the case of the video installation “Soil” the disintegration process, the end of identity and relationship, and the transition of the body into the symbolic area are presented extremely. Which can and actually should prompt a response or a stance. Raise a question about future development. The second work “Here And Now” represents an imagined reality. The line between the real and the unreal blurs. There is Here And Now beyond the limits of space and time, the creation of consciousness erects the structures of this world. The theme of the exhibition opens up a wide field for interpretation and relates to contemporary dilemmas but also to physics which notices more and more the relationship between consciousness and the creation of the reality in which we live.

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with ITSLIQUID Group?
JZ – This is my first contact with you and so far everything is running smoothly and clearly. I mean contacts, transfers of works and correspondence. It is hard for me to predict what will happen next.

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Image courtesy of Jacek Zachodny

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