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Foul Air

Aleksandra Liput

Place Chapel
Start date 25.06.2022
Curator Weronika Elertowska
End date 21.08.2022

Aleksandra Liput is a visual artist whose work involves ceramic art, sculpture and installation. In her work she addresses themes connected with fear, mechanisms of inheriting traumas, as well as a widely-understood spirituality and magical thinking. Alluding to the utopian world of dreams and desires, her artworks bring to mind objects created by ancient tribes, associated with performing activities of magical or religious character.

As the events from recent years have demonstrated, a sudden and unexpected outbreak of pandemic, which destabilized professional and family lives, thwarted plans and filled people with anxiety, facilitated the appearance of disturbing narrations and conspiracy theories. When the surrounding reality suddenly changes, some people display a strong wish to put the blame on a guilty person or group of people responsible for the misfortune. Despite scientific knowledge about the spread of viruses and how they affect human organisms, a need appears to find alternative, sometimes even harmful methods protecting us magically from the effects of the pandemic. It is not hard to imagine how strongly the imagination of people lacking proper cognitive tools must have been affected by the onset of disease and death in a small community.

Back in the 19th century many scientists supported the miasmatic concept of diseases, according to which the reason for unexplained deaths was sought in contaminated air. According to this hypothesis, diseases and epidemics were triggered by the miasma of putrefactive air escaping from underground and penetrating into the human body. This ‘foul air’ was personified in the figure of the Plague Maiden or the Maid of Pestilence, a ghastly apparition roaming the world in a blood-soaked headscarf and bringing death onto the inhabitants of villages and towns.

‘Lowering their muzzles to the ground, dogs start to howl, moles churn up the ground making hills like graves, owls horrifyingly hoot at night, the wind digs dunes like tombs, and in the sky there appears a red glow or a star with a tail sweeping people…’ [Henryk Biegeleisen, Lecznictwo ludu polskiego, Polska Akademia Umiejętności, Kraków 1929]

In order to protect themselves from the miasma, people used many mystical and magical methods, which alternated with the Christian tradition. Dwellers of endangered areas would mark a boundary around their village, ploughing the soil with a team of twin oxen and driven by twins. During the construction of houses, special sacrifices, ‘foundation offerings’ were buried, which were supposed to protect inhabitants against demonic forces or – on the contrary – to bring misfortune onto the neighbors living nearby.

The wish to discover the causes of incomprehensible phenomena led to attempts to find a scapegoat within a community who was responsible for bringing bad luck and starting the epidemic. This role was usually assigned to witches, women in confinement and demons, whose presence people tried to identify as quickly as possible. The demonic and dual nature of the phantom was also revealed in their physical features, e.g. a double row of teeth or double heart.

For the time of the exhibition, the Chapel becomes a place where we have to face our fear and feeling of anxiety. The space, which till the end of the 1980s for the dwellers of nearby villages had had sacred functions, is filled with a red glow - a harbinger of misfortune. Among the preserved elements of the old interior – the stoup, altar – we can find jaws with a double row of teeth, a double heart placed next to historical epitaphs, signifying the presence of a phantom, and snakes slithering among the hills made of the ground. The natural rue flowers, forged in steel sheets, assume the form of post-apocalyptic amulets. The works, on the one hand allude to the harbingers of the approaching miasmas, on the other hand they use the symbols used for counteracting the appearance of the plague and driving the phantom away. The herb of rue was used as a universal antidote against many ailments; the incenses which protected against diseases, later on taken over by the church tradition, were used while making pagan sacrifices; the snake fat was a significant element of magical mixtures and ointments protecting against the plague and ensuring luck and youth.

Foul Air is an exhibition about beliefs which, though partially forgotten, we still carry internalized in our minds. It is also a reflection on the feeling of threat, sources of our fear and isolation. It is a visual tale about contemporary rituals that we use to cope with and tame dangers, about a wish to understand and master the world surrounding us.

Partner
Cooperation
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  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
  • Wystawa Morowe powietrze, autorka pracy – Aleksandra Liput, Galeria Kaplica, CRP, fot. meta_strong_fiction
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