Krzysztof Wodiczko. Guests Polish Pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition in Venice
The protagonists of Krzysztof Wodiczko's projection in the Polish Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Art Biennial are immigrants, people who, not being 'at home', remain 'eternal guests'. 'Strangers', 'others' are key notions in Wodiczko's artistic practice, be it in the projections, the Vehicles, or the technologically advanced Instruments that enable those who, deprived of rights, remain mute, invisible and nameless to communicate, gain a voice, make a presence in public space.
The projection, created specially for the Biennial, transforms the space of the Polish Pavilion into a place where the viewers watch scenes taking place seemingly outside, behind an illusion of windows, their projection on the pavilion's windowless walls. The individual projections, the images of windows projected onto the pavilion's architecture, open its interior to virtual, but at the same time real, scenes showing immigrants washing windows, taking a rest, talking, waiting for work, exchanging remarks about their tough existential situation, unemployment, problems getting their stay legalised. The slight blurriness of the images reduces the legibility of the scenes taking place behind milky glass. Wodiczko plays with the visibility of immigrants, people who are 'within arm's reach' and, at the same time, 'on the other side', referring us to their ambivalent status, their social invisibility. Both sides experience an inability to overcome the gap separating them. The Biennial visitors are 'guests' here too, of which they are reminded by the images of immigrants trying, from time to time, to peek inside.
The project, dealing with the multicultural problematique of alterity, concerns one of the most burning issues of the contemporary world, globally as well as in the EU, where a discourse of acceptance and legalisation is accompanied by often restrictive immigration policies. The author worked with immigrants based in Poland and Italy, but coming from different countries of the world such as Chechnya, Ukraine, Vietnam, Romania, Sri Lanka, Libya, Bangladesh, Pakistan or Morocco.
In his Venice project, Wodiczko combines the unique experience of his earlier indoor projections, staged in galleries or museums, which opened the otherwise isolated art world to the outside world, with a performative nature of his outdoor projections which allowed participants to animate public buildings with images of their faces or hands and the sounds of their voices.