Tomasz Wendland


This work is a confession in front of both myself and the one who reads my words and looks at my images. It is unusual to confess with images, because they uncover what we hide with words. Through a body of visual arts practice completed between 2000 and 2007 and its accompanying written commentary and critical account, I have attempted to address notions of the "unknown". In this enquiry, the "unknown" is understood to be hidden between "what I say and what I mean", where, for example, consciousness has no access between drawing and intention, or between prediction and intuition. This enquiry has proceeded through a multiplicity of media and modalities. In the - Personal Introduction - I describe some of the social, religious, political and artistic conditions of Poland in the 1980's and 90's, and the way this context has influenced my ideas and practice. In the early chapters- 'Beginnings'- 'Confessions'- 'Architectural Objects'- "Drawings on the Wall' - I trace the development of work between 1987 and the beginning of the research period in 2000. I identify the way that the making of these works enabled me to filter the major strands of concern that I later recognized as the fundamental conceptual and thematic elements of my current practice. In these chapters I describe the development of a sequence of works which lead from early interactive performances, installations, objects, through "altered" wardrobes, into architectural objects and wall drawings. I identify a number of key aspects emerging from these works to do with absence and presence explored through languages of light and darkness, spatial ambiguity, linear illusion, motion and trace. The central chapters are concerned with the work of the research period 2000 - 7. These chapter headings - 'Video' - 'Photographic Works' - 'Scores - the Drawing Concerts' - 'Obituaries' - 'The Unknown - Negatives - Black Light - are organized around the various modes of work that contribute to the research period. Although these modes might be seen as discrete they are in fact highly interwoven, dialogic and interdependent. Throughout, themes and concepts born in earlier work are identified and developed. In - 'Video' - relationships to drawing are identified, whilst repetition, looping and transposition open up questions of time, duration and eternity, thus initiating the discourse of the "unknown". 'Photographic Works' examines questions of the "still" and of "doubling" where both work to displace the human figure into hyper-natural environments where a meeting with the unknown might occur. 'Scores - Drawing Concerts' how these concerts are based on the power of line, as a consequence of honest, organic movement of hand and body in a response to kinetic impulsion and the rules of necessity in live action. Connections are made between this work and repetitive movement in the video works. The relationship between sound and the act of drawing is considered. 'Obituaries' describes a series of works in which death announcements, as they appear in a number countries and cultures, are put into a new context and transformed. With the destruction of the message of the obituary, the presence of the "unknown" is tested in both its personal and universal aspects. 'The Unknown - Negatives - Black Light' is a chapter that includes the most recent work. The work described in this chapter draws together multiple strands from across the whole body of previous work and is strongly related to other artists whose work deals with the absence of light. This work became the strongest bridge to the mystics who describe darkness as the most secure condition for a meeting with the "unknown". 'Mystics and Teaching' - examines the relationship between notions of mystics and my experience of what occurs between myself and students in a pedagogical context. It examines how procedures described by mystics, while facing the unknown, can be employed as methods to provoke appearance of the "unknown" for each individual in the creative process. 'Artists and Curatorial Work' attempts to locate my research in a wider context of artist's practice. In conclusion, the following text will seek to demonstrate how the body of work produced between 2000 and 2007 has engaged the viewer in a distinctive felt communion with the ineffable and the "unknown". This body of work has sought to visualize and manifest the "unknown" in a direct, physical and sensual engagement between artist, artwork, and viewer. In other words, the central premise of the work is set within a personalised relation to the "unknown" rather than an objectivised "understanding" of the "unknown".

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