The Afterimages of Trauma
With the rise of right-wing extremism in Poland the case of national socialism seems urgent to a recent generation of Polish artists. In Man To Man Agnes Janich, born in 1985 in Lodz, brings up the afterimages of a trauma. For this reason there are three independent installations, which Agnes Janich separates spatially.
From the point of entering the gallery one hears dogs' howls, which are actually part of the installation Man To Man and supply a sound background to Cleanliness is Goodliness in the first room of the show. There, neatly lined up, are numerous soaps with names engraved on them. These aren't evoking actual victims of national socialist regime, but friends who live today where once national socialist crimes took place [ in fact, the artists' friends and acquaintances living today all over the world ].
Janich works around materializing history and the everyday presence of products of national socialist atrocities, such as soaps from people's fat. In its simplicity the installation goes under the skin. The loud barking of the dogs further strengthens its effect. The howls actually belong to the installation Man To Man, which was commissioned and co-produced with the Sharjah Biennale this year. This project is much more in your face, that one is trapped in the labyrinth-like passage of dogs. In the walls project, one feels audible aggressiveness.
A dark space with fear inducing images on the walls and scary sounds feels still more comfortable then the last area. Here the artist confronts us with historical photographs from Holocaust memorial museums [ the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Memorial and Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau ]. In each of the four [ in fact three ] picture frames is a triptych of pictures, which the artist selected around the questions of the representability of the Shoah. Again we don't see just victims, but scenes from everyday life, for instance that of a small boy doing the Hitler greeting.