Krystyna Ziach
Archê - The Ambivalence of Water and Fire, by Mirelle Thijsen, 1996 (English, part II)
Mirelle Thijsen is art historian and art critic for the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad

This article has been written at the occasion of the exhibition Archê / Krystyna Ziach, which was held at The Netherlands Photography Institute in Rotterdam in 1996.
photo : Quinta Essentia, photo sculpture, from the series Arche, 1995 - 1996

Water and time erode even the hardest metal. The rusted brown steel of the massive frame and soccle refer directly to the ruthless influence of the jaws of time. The heavily oxydated, obstinate metal can be associated with the "red planet" Mars. This planet is warm, dry, sharp and cruel. It stands for unanticipated accidents, confusion and agressive sexuality. The person who is dominated by the planet Mars is characterized by the "martial". The weather beaten metal also returns in the form of a Trompe l'oeil in The Fountain of Time. On top of this image lies the skin of a plate of corroded steel, which is the counterpoint to the earlier mentioned face of the artist, that had water streaming‘ over it. The colors of the photos are adjusted. A rust brown sepia taint determines the harmonic feeling of transience in all of the photo works. The added color has something earthy about it; in a more conveyable meaning it refers to flesh like, unvarnished eroticism. The fascination in art for the apparent incommensurability of these two primal elements is not new. Already Yves Klein attempted in 1961 with Water and Fire Fountains to tame these two primal elements and tried to forge a synthesis between them in his fire painting. He had his models shake off water drops from their wet bodies on a piece of card board, thereby creating a certain pattern, and afterwards exposed the card board to fire. The body prints appeared as flowing shadows of color in the fire, because the wet spots survived longer in it.

The Energy of Darkness portrays on a photo enlargement the dead horn structure of head hairs. The water drops on the exactly combed long hair tails reminds one of dew. During the time of Plinius, this condensed liquid was thought to be "a heavenly gift for the eyes, sores and intestines".The alchemists also collected heavenly dew in cloth. On the other hand, beautiful hair in many cultures still refers to temptation and seduction, but as it passes through the years it loses its power. Ziach continually joins two halves of an image together, as if it could co-exist under the same roof. The downward direction of the growing hair marks out the depth dimension in the right half of the image. From up high, we look down upon inert water that is covered with a blanket of algae. Both organic structures-algae and hairs-partake in unbridled growth; in a certain sense they represent chaos, unless someone intervenes. In the old Chinese literature, the "source" is associated with eroticism. A spatial object on the ground takes up this theme in a subtle way. The object, which is entitled The Embrace, consists of two sloping figures in the form of an open book on which a female and male back straddle each other.
The third dimension in the project "Archê” is concerned with water as a bodily liquid. In the form of sweat it oozes out of the pores and it covers the surfaces of the skin of the man and the woman. It is a kind of secretion that refers to fear, aggression, physical exercise and sexual excitement.
Up until this point, the concepts "polarity" and "lability" are central to the entire work of Krystyna Ziach. However, in contrast to the monumental presentation of earlier projects, Ziach in Archê puts less value on the things themselves. The framework is not accentuated and the objects are less sculptural. Ziach is now more concerned with the suggestion of depth as an experience within the photographic image itself. Archê is rather based on intuition and her personal mentality than on the art historic and mythological references that were explicitly present in her earlier work.
The autobiographical component slowly becomes more visible in her oeuvre. Her soul finally comes to the fore.