Skapski’s recent photographic and video work concerns cultural and political issues common to many national groups: the emotional ambivalence of women and nursing mothers, people’s views of the environment in which they live, the legacy of Communist practices in farming communities, as well as the practice and tradition of film itself. In all his work, the artist demonstrates an uncanny ability for capturing people’s circumstances on film and video. He listens; he seizes detail and human interaction; he brings out the absurd and the humorous in the situations that he records.
There are powerful emotions and surprising candor at work here, sometimes leavened by a humor that is at once accessible and distinctly Polish. Examining social customs and rituals reveals underlying attitudes inherent in the social fabric. Critical awareness is, as always, the linchpin of a free and healthy society.
Ten video works will be presented in this show, including some very short half- minute and one-minute videos with titles like The Wind, Brightness, Cold, which the artist describes as “funny and a bit taoistic tautological.”
A longer piece entitled Clash shows a series of interviews with women about the experience of pregnancy and maternity. In contrast with traditional social views, many of them reveal that they hate the experience.
Skapski is particularly interested in Polish society as it emerges from its difficult recent past. In the series Machines he uses both color photography and video to show home-made tractors put together by farmers who improvised as mechanics to fulfill the needs of their small private farms. These unusual and spectacular “monsters” illustrate the human capacity to pragmatically resist totalitarian oppression, and the accompanying video further underlines the pride and dignity of the human spirit.
Other videos include Cracow Guide in which the inhabitants of this famous medieval town comment about living in the standardized housing blocks that cover 90% of the city’s area. Explosions, is a baroque-minimalist film consisting of found footage from Hollywood films, while The Film is “a film about telling films, or rather, a film which is being told during the film.”
The show will also include several video fragments by the Azorro Group, an artist collaborative of which Skapski is a founding member, whose work centers on the paradoxes of the institutional circuit of art. They ask: what is contemporary art like? Where are artists and curators located? The questions are intentionally naïve and the sequences often amusing and absurd.