A Radical Place

Interviewer: Seoyoung Kim
Interviewee: Piotr Zamojski

SK> Can you elucidate influential positions for your analysis of space which can be applied to your image production? And how do you employ the given space? In which contexts has your image production occurred?

PZ> In each case, I see the given space as an occasion instigating reflection on the perception of the place concerned. I am always confronted by the questions as to how, if at all, the complexity of the spatial situation can be grasped. How far away is the feeling from the factual, and which method of interpretation would be the most appropriate? My manner of proceeding can be compared to a dialogue and the result to a portrait of the place in question. Similarly to the case of a traditional portrait, here too there are three components involved: the object to be portrayed, the artist as interpreting and mediating instance, and finally the beholder. The image emerges at the point of intersection of these three planes. I do not believe that it is possible, nor even desirable, to make all three coincide. Instead, they should extend and enrich one another. My works have an evocative character: they can be viewed as an invitation to give more attention to a specific place and to come closer to its genius loci. The many lacunae here have been deliberately situated. Whether and how they are filled depends on the imagination of the recipient. I must, however, say that I have an aversion to final situations. A deficit is an assistance in sustaining the dynamics of the work of art. In my works there are many gaps - invisible or unexecuted areas. Some works were never achieved, many could not be preserved. Putting it briefly, what is absent has the same significance as what is present.

SK> When I look at the pictorial contexts derived from historical sources in your pictures - for example, there is image content from "Rear House" (the birthplace of Klaus Kinski) - the question arises in my mind as to whether historical evidence on the spot can be self-reflected in image production? How can this be recognized?

PZ> I am, of course, aware that today’s beholder has become highly impatient. I’m no different, if I’m looking at a long-winded video or at an exhibition with many additional texts. Nevertheless, my expectation of visitors is that they bring some time with them and do not give up immediately at the first obscurity. On the one hand, I do not keep anything secret, but on the other hand, I do not want to serve up finished products. The fact is that there are works that do require additional information. Historical images also demand prior knowledge. There are, I think, some parallels between this art genre and the rear building you mentioned. This work is based on a story I discovered - the autobiography of Klaus Kinski. My intention was to visualize his memories. I wanted to create mental images of the specific past. The still highly authentic atmosphere of the place, I thought, would be a great help here.

SK> Presenting texts and writings in visible form is a major point in postmodern discourse. How do your texts thrust themselves into the image? Are there other pieces of imaginative content? Where are there points of reference? And how do you document this?

PZ> Alongside the mostly simple, geometric forms I often employ texts. They are almost never complete sentences, but rather quasi-sentences or individual words that correspond with one another. I always try to refer to the specialness, the peculiarity of the place in question in as brief a form as possible. These references, therefore, tend to be haikus rather than novels. What interests me here are the following issues: how a construct called "reality" emerges out of memories, direct sensory perceptions and imaginings; whether abstract thought, the world of concepts, extends our horizon of experience or deforms our vision of things and perhaps even obstructs it; how the semantic and visual planes exert mutual influence on one another and whether it is possible to bring them into harmony. These are all, of course, old questions and I do not think that the final answers will be found quickly, if at all.
If it is a question of points of reference, then Mallarme, Apollinaire and the pioneers of conceptual art are much more inspriring for me than most outcomes of postmodern discourse.
I document my works photographically, choosing a variety of perspectives and differing times of day and, when possible, differing seasons. I consider close-up photographs just as important as overall views.

SK> How is the changed, the lost or the restored significance of locality portrayed in the images in your work?

PZ> My spatial works thrive on locality and locale. Each time, I try to consider as many aspects as possible. I investigate local form languages against the broader historical, geographical and socio-cultural background. More recently, I have often made reference to local traditions, myths and proverbs. In textual works, I always use local and sometimes also historical languages - ancient Icelandic, for example. Each time, I use a different typography, if possible local fonts, and best of all forms of writing that, in addition, correspond with the period in which the architectural situation in question was created.
I understand locality as a special feature, as the intimacy of a place even. If one wishes to discover it, one must be prepared to take a great deal of time. One also needs a great deal of empathy, because it is mostly somewhat hidden. Locality is more specific than regionality: it is more a personal language than a dialect. It is fragile, similar to innocence - it is easier to lose it than to regain it. And increasingly, above all in recent years, it has become endangered and rare. In my works, I try to address its significance: my works can be understood as a homage to locality.

SK> Your time travelling has hypostasized itself in a large number of re-creations of spaces. Your works have had a major impact on trans-disciplinary discourse. This is due reason both to present the works to a broad public and to involve them in the debate on the analysis of picture and image. Are there perhaps possibilities other than displaying the informative documentation in readable form?

PZ> If you wish to experience a spatial work in the best possible way, you must perceive it directly. It is only on site that all senses can be addressed. In order to come closer to the genius loci one should not restrict oneself to the visual sense. Hearing, smell and touch are all involved in no less measure. I am, of course, not concerned with an experience in the sense of a synthesis of arts, a Gesamtkunstwerk. What I mean is the sensibilization of the beholder for nuances and details, and also for the general atmosphere of the place and its surroundings. The experiences involved in the direct reception of a spatial work resemble perhaps those one has when attending a concert. To stick to the musical comparison, sketches and diagrams play the same part as a musical score; a photographic documentation corresponds to a recording. They supplement the work and are helpful as relics, but they can never replace the fullness and full range of impressions received in a live situation - I would say they transpose the work into another dimension.