Anywhere Out of the World — Part 2.
Center for Polish Sculpture in Oronsko Poland. 

Curated by Paulina Kuhn and Pétur Magnússon 
Artists: Eva Isleifs, Helgi Þórsson, Ragnar Kjartansson and Örn Alexander Ámundason

In Charles Baudelaire’s poem “Anywhere out of the World”, the lyrical persona strives to connect with his soul which remains stubbornly silent. Only resorting to the ultimate argument, which unfolds in the vision of escape to countries being the ‘analogy of Death’, found at the ‘very end of the Baltic’ or even ‘at the pole’, where ‘we will keep bathing in the dark, delighted by the Northern lights, from time to time sending us their pink beams, like fireworks set off from Hell’. At this point his soul shall ‘erupt and scream’ the titular ‘Anywhere, anywhere out of the world’.

Geographically speaking it is Iceland that might be the country which so troubled the soul. But a century ago it was a synonym of ‘death’. Today Iceland is a destination for tourists and is a country bustling with artistic life. It is also the country of origin for the four participants of the second part of the project. They were asked to prepare works referring to the eponymous poem from 1869, expressing an ennui with life hitherto lived, with life in a big city; and thus, to express a need for change. At the same time, these artworks were to attempt a new interpretation of the site of the Centre of Polish Sculpture, with its vibrant centre for creative work, and its wonderful collection of artworks and rich history, whose legacy can be traced and discerned in the wondrous park and architecture.

The four different creative strategies resulted in projects transcending today’s human world, one which has been commercialised and dominated by a determination to exploit everything. They pave new ways and guide us, expanding our awareness through art.

In the surrounding reality, Eva Ísleifs searches for the hidden agenda; she puts a question mark where everything seems rational and obvious. The artist’s imagination was stirred by the beautiful Orońsko Park. But actually, what is this garden emblematic of? Is it not the effect of controlling the environment, a utopian place where everything has to accord with the plan which people have prepared for nature?

On the basis of an old photograph, Helgi Þórsson conjures the world of dreams and fantastical beliefs which Iceland is imbued with, and which in this instance extends to Poland. He shows a world of strange creatures which hide from human eyes. But perhaps it is the case that it is us who do not want to see a world different from our own? This realisation arouses our fascination, but also gives rise to fear. Was it created by our minds or does it really exist? Can we sense its existence through art?

Ragnar Kjartasson has given his project the ambiguous title of God. In this way, he conveys us to a supernatural world, where we immerse ourselves in a presence more powerful than man. Additionally, we find ourselves in a historical chapel which used to serve as a church for the inhabitants of Orońsko village. The longer we listen to the sung words, the more we find ourselves overwhelmed by sadness. We feel the inner divide between beauty and Weltschmerz, the pain of existence.

Together with Örn Alexander Ámundason we return to everyday life. The artist understands it as an artificial social construct in which the wellbeing of individuals is subordinated to the often-absurd market and cultural mechanisms. In his performance, he reveals an alternative world – his own, inner voice.

And as for us… let us listen intently to ourselves and allow the artworks of Icelandic artists to speak to us.

Text by: Paulina Kuhn 

Second nature 

Iron and plexiglass 
Outdoor sculpture _ site specific 
Collection of Centrum for Polish Sculpture Oronsko.