Othering. A Study of Pressures
The inspiration for Othering. A Study of Pressures came from the noise concerts/performances that Jan Moszumański-Kotwica organizes under the stage name of Death Wind with partners co-opted depending on the location and the cultural or institutional context. As the name itself might suggest, wind is one of the recurring motifs in the artist’s noise-music work. In some of the Death Wind projects, the movement of air had become a medium or an instrument. Such concerts were meant by their author as an opportunity to encounter the non-human factor, and thus to become familiar with radical alterity.
While the show draws on Moszumański-Kotwica’s noise projects, it is rather the opera that its scenario references: the wind is not only an instrument here, but also a solo voice. One of the projections shows the text of a „libretto,” in which the wind addresses people in an accusatory tone and appeals to them to stop treating the world as merely something to subjugate and a means to an end. The personified wind urges the audience to look at modernity from a geological, planetary perspective, anchored in a much wider timeframe than the history of human civilization; it also warns that relentless modernization can ultimately prove fatal for mankind. The film presented at the centre of the show – on a screen stretched like a sail – relates to this warning. It shows scenes of people struggling against destructive elemental powers, their attempts to control nature proving futile.
During preparations for the exhibition, Moszumański-Kotwica took the opportunity to develop critical reflection on two aspects of his practice. One is his cogitation on the condition of the global environment, including on violence as one of the foundations of modernity. The other is the recognition of the cathartic potential of visceral, affective sensations. As in Death Wind shows, viewers can feel the movement of air on their own skin. What distinguishes the exhibition from concerts, however, is the use of language: alterity is encountered here not only through irrational sensations, but also by means of a quasi-opera aria. Featured as “extras” in the Project Room are recordings from Tanzania and Uganda, where Moszumański-Kotwica was shooting a documentary about the Kampala music scene. An attempt to capture the goings-on there from a perspective attractive for a European viewer caused the artist to reflect on the politics of affect – an experience that may seem immediate and transgressive to a participant in a noise ritual or a music festival in eastern Africa has been increasingly difficult to inscribe in a context that would remain free of the modern circulation of information and capital.
- Arkadiusz Półtorak