|Plan is one of the most significant contemporary art projects to emerge from Poland. Over the course of two years, Aneta Grzeszykowska and Jan Smaga created a series of ten highly unusual photographic prints: each piece documents the entirety of an apartment, including its occupants, from a normally unavailable perspective — from above. Hundreds of individual photographs are processed and merged using computers to produce the finished piece. In his essay on Grzeszykowska and Smaga's work, Marek Krajewski marvels at the "perfection, continuity, and completeness of representation — unimaginable in traditional photography."|
The clinical detachment that seems, at first glance, to characterize the Plan series gives way to a fascinating sociological study of human domestic life. The viewer becomes not only a voyeur, but also an anthropologist, making new discoveries within each image the more it is studied from above. The dizzying complexity of daily existence is exposed, allowing us to recognize what we have in common, but also what makes us unique. Ultimately, this "X-ray of privacy" is "a simple story about life, which consists of an infinite amount of elements and details, as well as the sheer pleasure of perceiving them."
Aneta Grzeszykowska and Jan Smaga were born in 1974 and graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. They both live and work in Warsaw, Poland.
This exhibition is co-presented with the Polish Cultural Institute.
For devotees of online real-estate listings with schematic floor plans and three-hundred-and-sixty degree virtual tours, this show will be pure manna. The two young Polish artists take hundreds of pictures of lived-in apartments, all from above, then seamlessly reconfigure the shots into an aerial map of the subjects' lives. In the finished pieces, we see what's on the stove, who's in the bathtub, and who doesn't put away the dishes. Is it only a lack of space that compels someone to put a grand piano at the foot of the bed, or does it belong to a manic composer prone to bouts of sleeplessness? These reality dioramas are clever studies of domesticity done with ingenious use of digital technology.
Imagine a house whose roof has been removed without disturbing either the contents of the rooms or their occupants. Now imagine yourself hovering — birdlike, godlike, utterly invisible — just above those exposed chambers, able to peer in and examine every little domestic detail at your leisure. There's something at once dreamy and disturbing about this vision: You're a giant child in The Twilight Zone, playing house with living dolls. You're Big Brother, testing the ultimate high-tech home invasion. But come back down to earth: You're in a Chelsea gallery looking at photographs by the Warsaw-based collaborative team of Aneta Grzeszykowska and Jan Smaga, who have gone to great pains to realize a point of view previously available only to helicopter pilots in Tornado Alley.
The ten pieces in Grzeszykowska and Smaga's American debut show were made over a period of two years. Each multi-part piece represents the floor plan of a single house or apartment that was photographed bit by bit using a camera rigged up to a track system on the ceiling of every room. The information from hundreds of individual photos was fed to a computer and compiled into a seamless patchwork of startlingly specific, freakishly omniscient aerial views. In one configuration, the artists themselves pose provocatively at either end of a broken-L-shaped space. Grzeszykowska sprawls nude across from a TV; Smaga soaks in a bathtub. Between them is a kitchen counter with the preparations for what looks like a vegetable stew — just one of a group of tabletop still lifes so fortuitously composed that they each deserve pictures of their own.
Like an archaeological dig exposing layers of bunched-up duvets, cheap oriental rugs, and Elle magazines, Grzeszykowska and Smaga's project is a fascinating investigation of the mundane. Besides, its invitation to guilt-free voyeurism and unexpected intimacy, however imaginary and unearned, is irresistible.