La Criée Centre for Contemporary Art
in partnership with the Polish Institute in Paris
At La Criée Centre for Contemporary Art for his first solo exhibition in France, Polish artist Hubert Czerepok takes a hard, thoughtful look at contemporary representations of power.
At the core of his oeuvre are the connections between fiction, topicality and historical events. It is not the facts themselves that interest the artist, but rather the way they begin with shifts, mutations, and unimaginable formal and semantic transformations. Drawing, installation, video and photography: Czerepok’s strength lies in always choosing the most effective medium for each subject.
For Devil’s Island, the video installation on show at La Criée, the artist visited the rocky islet off the coast of Kourou in French Guiana, famed for the penal colony to which many French political prisoners – including Alfred Dreyfus – were condemned. The images he brought back are projected onto a hexagonal sculpture referencing another form of disciplinary power: the Panopticon. Part of a circular prison building, the Panopticon allows full-time surveillance of prisoners without their knowing if they are being watched or not, the result being a sense of invisible omniscience. Designed by philosopher-jurist Jeremy Bentham in 1870, the Panopticon came under critical scrutiny in Michel Foucault’s book Discipline and Punish published in 1975. Using as his model the hexagonal Panopticon in the women’s prison in Rennes, France, Czerepok triggers in the exhibition space a maelstrom of images and a revolving of our gaze that turns the Panopticon against itself.
The exhibition also includes a series of drawings, Seances, which brings together media images relating to some tragic current event, spiritualist seances or sexual scenes. The initial Seances series retained only a minimal trace of the originals, while the images made for the Rennes exhibition combine areas of flat black with line drawing. Here Czerepok pays tribute to Goya’s Disasters of War engravings and their demonstration of all the atrocious cruelty mankind is capable of. In this new look at glamorised, mass-produced media violence, the artist forces the image back into its genuinely traumatising, critical role.
The Devil’s Island exhibition comprises a highly diverse selection of works that lead us to reflect on different forms of power, the way they are depicted and the impact of this depiction on our lives
work of art