Photos and Mirrors at Bunkier Sztuki: One Opening, Two Exhibitions

Since we have the Bunkier Sztuki, which houses the Lower Gallery and the Upper Gallery in Krakow, we are used to some sort of variety in the events in the City Gallery of Contemporary Art. The Upper has become a designated area for more serious and complex presentations, while the Lower has become a domain of smaller presentations, often of young Polish artists.

Usually the basement is much more interesting than the bright and spacious upper levels. But how about this time? The Upper Gallery has transformed itself as a site for PHOTOsuisse, a review of Swiss photography. While the Lower hosts “A game with shifting mirrors”, a presentation of videos by Bogna Burska.
These two shows stand at opposite ends of the art spectrum: First, is a group show presenting Swiss artists of various ages representing all regions of Switzerland. The second is a small individual presentation. One is bright and serious. The other one is dark and lighthearted. The upper is a rather educational project, the lower is extremely sensual and brutal, both visually and content-wise.

PHOTOsuisse presents the works of 28 artists. Among them you can find the big stars of photography, some of them being recognized names and a few who are just emerging as artists. The show is diverse, consisting of documentary, reportage, artistic photography and contemporary art. The curatorial idea was to divide the show into three groups or parts: Matrix – study of surface, Environment – social space and Media – relations between images. Additional divisions were made because of the architectural structure of the gallery and the first floor appearing to be more traditional and classic, whereas the second appeared to be more modern and contemporary.

The PHOTOsuisse exhibition is accompanied with a set of film presentations, or portraits, rather, of each artist created by swiss television. This additional element intensifies the educational side of the show. Paradoxically this highly informative and educational aspect of the presentation is the strongest aspect of this particular exhibition. The show is a brief history of photography in the second half of the 20th Century. Here, one can find beautiful black and white nudes by Christian Coigny, astonishing landscapes by Balthasar Burkhard, great reportage photographies by Luc Chessex or Michael von Graffenried and some contemporary classics like Urs Luthi or Beat Streuli. Viewing thse incredible pieces of work makes the viewing of the exhibition priceless.

The Lower Gallery show bears a completely different experience, where transitioning from a brightly-lit and easily legible exhibition, to a world of fluctuating images and intense sounds become an adventure in itself. “A game with a shifting mirrors” is a show composed of few found footage films of Bogna Burska. This technique assumes creating video works out of short fragments or scenes taken from existing film materials, most of them being movies. True to its definition, all works of this kind are strongly immersed in the visual culture of our times. Scenes taken from both mainstream productions and high culture creations build new ideas and senses.

For some time, this technique was strongly present at all big art presentations around the world and became quite popular among artists. Because it is based on existing materials which are usually visually attractive, it results in spectacular, or at least eye-catching, works.

This easiness in achieving strong visual effects bring a risk of using it as a cheap trick, which is why they should be treated with great caution.

Bogna Burska is composing her films around some common motives and topics but also around one actor or one repeating joke. That brings about works of different significance and intensity. Films that trace motives and symbols of blood (“A Heart So White”), love (“God Is Vain”) and death (“Wind”) are some of her publicly-favored pieces.

All these images in fact create our reality, our dreams and fantasies.

Putting them together is a way of searching for hidden plots and collective counciousness. It is becomes a reflection upon visual culture, specifisity of film language and ways of its reception.
The architecture of the Lower Gallery with its labirynth-like structure brings to this show of reflections, repetitions and quotations an appropriate atmosphere of mystery and discovering.

Przeglad szwajcarskiej fotografii
Nov. 8-Dec. 7
Bogna Burska
Nov. 8-Jan. 6
Bunkier Sztuki
pl. Szczepanski 3a

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