Courtyard, (Wrocław), Entropia Gallery, Wrocław

Courtyard , Kantorek Gallery, (Bydgoszcz, Toruń), Bydgoszcz

Courtyard, (Bydgoszcz, Toruń)Wozownia Gallery, Toruń
In Poland, what does it mean? (Warsaw, Bydgoszcz) Center for Contemporary Art – Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw

Dorota Podlaska does not explore cities like a tourist, looking for sites of historic significance or traces of the past. Instead, equipped with a camera, she drifts through cities, trying to discover their unique character, the genius loci manifesting itself in the traces left by the people who live there.

According to the artist, the exhibition, or more broadly, the project called “Courtyard,” is a sort of metaphoric portrait of the city and its inhabitants, the record of the relationship between people and architecture. In Podlaska’s work this relationship usually manifests itself in windows and balconies. This is where a wild and unplanned individualist anarchy starts to creep in. The facades of buildings lose their architectural identity and begin to dissolve into the multiple shapes of the designs, improvements and modifications made by handymen and amateur artists of all stripes. By way of these interventions, architecture users make themselves at home in their surroundings and respond to the alienating effect of the city. Modern architecture has rejected the nineteenth-century decorative building facade, but this old-fashioned tendency lingers with the inhabitants of the standardized, depersonalized housing estates. “When taking photos I was looking for individuality, both in the architecture and in the traces of people’s daily life, like laundry drying on a line, a messy balcony, a dog barking at its master. The windows reveal differences in how city dwellers treat space … Each window is a theatre, a portrait of privacy exposed to the public eye and, at the same time, a fragment contributing to a unique urban and cultural whole.” The heterogeneous city finds its hidden identity in individual expression, in a collage of different pieces. The artist feels that this practice, which will never be art and does not even dream of aspiring to that status, embodies a spontaneously expressed truth about the relationships with one’s surroundings and a value that cannot be denigrated because it is purely functional. From this psychogeographical (to use a Situationist term) material, Dorota Podlaska creates a photographic installation, a new backyard where viewers, through her eyes, can take a peek inside their neighbors’ windows.

The project has so far involved three cities: Warsaw, Bydgoszcz and Torun. Now the artist is portraying Wroclaw.

By Alicja Jodko