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- Author Michał Jelski
- Date of production 2013
- Dimensions height: 112.3 cm, width: 76 cm
- Author's designation none
- ID no. BS/1073
- Availability in stock
- Acquired date 2014
- Object copyright Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art
- Digital images copyright © all rights reserved, Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Virtual Małopolska project
The photographic work of Michał Jelski, DG/D.Y.60s0-0-0.4s, is an unusual record of issues focusing on conflict. Its sphere of presentation – patches of colour – whose smooth transitions are disturbed by a distinctive streak, primarily refers to the manipulation of materials applied on the surface of the artistic medium used. The photogram technique used by the artist involves irradiation of photo paper without the use of special devices designed for this purpose, such as a camera. The image is created here is the result of obscuring the photosensitive material with semi-transparent or opaque objects (in such a case, we talk about the technique of luxography).more
The photographic work of Michał Jelski, DG/D.Y.60s0-0-0.4s, is an unusual record of issues focusing on conflict. Its sphere of presentation – patches of colour – whose smooth transitions are disturbed by a distinctive streak, primarily refers to the manipulation of materials applied on the surface of the artistic medium used. The photogram technique used by the artist involves irradiation of photo paper without the use of special devices designed for this purpose, such as a camera. The image is created here is the result of obscuring the photosensitive material with semi-transparent or opaque objects (in such a case, we talk about the technique of luxography). For the purposes of this work, Jelski used a photographic enlarger, equipped with a system of translucent colour photo filters, through which he exposed light-sensitive paper. The image obtained this way was then exposed by the author to the destructive effect of a household bleach. The surface of the photogram recorded the consequences of the struggle of the photographic material with the corrosive substance splashed on it. The effect achieved reminds us that a photographic image is not only a visual illusion, but also something real, having its own materiality, with a special structure and properties, which can be the object of artistic exploration. The importance of the physical aspects as the object of the analysis is also emphasized by the titles of the encrypted photograms. In the case of the work under discussion, they refer directly to the processes set in motion during their production. The deciphering of the code should begin from the elementary factors that make up the process of developing a coloured print in the darkroom. In this particular work, the characters “D.G/D.Y.60s” indicate the use of gradation filters marked in English as “Dark Green” and “Dark Yellow”, positioned directly on top of each other, for 60 seconds of exposure time. “0-0-0” refers to the adjustment of the yellow, red, and blue filters — all set to zero position. Finally, “4s” is a symbol indicating four seconds, which, in this given work, was the white light exposition time for the whole paper, together with the frame. This concrete picture that we are dealing with, in the case of numerically marked work, is therefore presented as the outcome of the special properties of the photographic paper, which owes its composition to many photosensitive layers sensitive to light to a various degree.
Jelski’s photogram was created as an element of a series, for which the starting point was the question of how one can now use slightly exploited, though still fascinating, possibilities of the medium of photography. Through the visual layer and operations carried out on the photosensitive matter, the artist referred simultaneously to problematic issues related to conflict, which, in a wider scope, were revealed during his first public presentation of the work, namely the individual exhibition of the artist entitled Rodzina człowiecza [Family of Man], which took place in 2014 at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery. The concept of the show referred by its very title to the famous historical exhibition, Family of Man, which was prepared by Edward Steichen in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The enduring fame of the 1955 exhibition is associated with the dramatically utopian assumptions of the curator. Because this project was:
“total and closing the first, confirmed by propaganda of the era, dominance of the photographic image. The American curator created, through hundreds of photographs by many outstanding photographers, a spatial guide to the human family, whose ultimate goal was to ideologically fill the post-war divisions and to resolve the differences. The road to this visual reconciliation was through the rhythm of life, shown in photographs from around the world, which was supposed to be common to humanity as such .” By undertaking a dialogue with Steichen’s realization, which aimed at the conventionality and injustice of social divisions, Jelski’s exhibition took the opposite direction. It highlighted the futility of efforts aimed at the artistic reconciliation and abolition of differences, which are the result of belonging to a particular class, race, nationality, or a closed environment unified by a common worldview. By choosing the concept of identity as the key, incidentally, the same thing that organized the historic exhibition, Jelski’s project revealed the still existing antagonisms and means of their construction. The abstract images, damaged with the use of chemicals or sharp tools, referred to this issue in the most metaphorical way. They were complemented with photographic collages referring to the mechanisms of recording stereotypical images and the works confronting colourful photograms with the ideologically saturated text. Some of the paintings were juxtaposed with pieces collected by the artist from archival fanzines, released in low circulation by closed subculture circles in Poland in the 1990s. The concept of Steichen’s exhibition also referred to the artistic book, edited by Jelski in Bunkier Sztuki, Family. The Polish underground and inspirational quotes from the Human Family, which was filled with photographs and fragments of fanzines, intertwined with quotes borrowed from the catalogue of the New York exhibition. The universalism and the global vision of the 1955 display were confronted with local publications, dominated by an atmosphere saturated with historical trauma and ideological visions created ad hoc during the transformation period. As the curator of the exhibition pointed out: “Here the idealistic statements must fight for their own with sharp proposals, completely different from the pictures that were to assure the recipient about the unity of experience.”
In this context, Jelski’s large format photograms act as a symbolic presentation of ongoing conflicts. However, social friction has been transposed into the structure of the photographic material. The fatigued photosensitive paper draws attention to the physical dimension of the photographic image, which is easy to manipulate and use for any purpose. However, the creative use of its sensitivity to light uncovers the construction of the photograph substrate to be as complex and internally diverse as the stratified social fabric.
Elaborated by Kinga Olesiejuk (Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.
Michał Jelski (born 1981) is an artist and photographer. He is a graduate of The Glasgow School of Art and the Szczecin University of Technology at the Faculty of Architecture. He has displayed his works at the following individual exhibitions: Chrzest [Baptism] (Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2010) and Rodzina Człowiecza [Family of Man] (Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, Kraków, 2014 and Dům Umĕni, Ceske Budejovice, 2016). He has participated in group exhibitions, such as: Soirée Shot (Art Basel, Basel, 2006), Red eye effect. Polish photography in the 21st century (Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2008), Venus as part of the Kraków Photomonth (2008), Cut & Paste (Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow, 2010), f32 (Glue Factory, Glasgow, 2011), Artificiality (The Archeology of Photography Foundation Gallery, Warsaw, 2012), Alternative endings (+ Gallery, Rondo Sztuki, Katowice, 2012) Recommended by (Photo galleries Wien, Vienna, 2012), The crisis is just the beginning (TIFF Festival, Wrocław, 2015). He lives and works in Glasgow.
 Jakub Śwircz, „Rodzina Człowiecza” Michała Jelskiego w Důmu Umĕni w Czeskich Budziejowicach, online: magazynszum.pl/do-zobaczenia/rodzina-czlowiecza-michala-jelskiego-w-dumu-umeni-w-czeskich-budziejowicach [dostęp: 30.07.2017].