Krystyna Ziach
The Infinite Reflection of Everything in Everything, A Chamber of Mirrors (English) Part II
Ten Years of Photoworks by Krystyna Ziach on view at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Sittard, by Mirelle Thijsen
Het Financieele Dagblad, 4 June, 1994, NL, newspaper
photo : Infinity, photo sculpture, exhibition A Chamber of Mirrors
The Netherlands Photography Museum , Sittard, NL, 1994


If the earlier work centred on expressiveness in painterly elements and the treatment of imaginary space in the plane, ”with her project A Garden of Illusion Ziach started the sculptural conquest of the (exhibition) space itself”, according to Iris Dik in the accompanying catalogue. It is work which radiates more quiet, as opposed to the previous Melancholia series which is laden with symbolism and art-historical references. Ziach consciously limited her means, the nature of the objects is monumental and minimalistic. The series is made of solid three-dimensional objects: floor and wall objects with volume, based on simple geometrical shapes such as the circle, the triangle and the square. The spatial floor object A Memory of Rain, on which the exhibition is centred, has the most complex and at the same time the most dramatic shape. It looks like s huge open slide frame, threatening to slam shut. Its position largely determines the placement of the other objects in the bright exhibition space which is several times reflected in it. Ziach calls this ‘a way to create negative images’, as it were behind the mirror. Seen with the eye of a sculptor, the exhibition has been arranged in dialogue with the elongated room offered by the Nederlands Fotomuseum. In their ‘physical’ confrontation, the ‘Gesamtkunstwerke’ have been clinically arranged. The different series are kept separate from each other, in the central room only two spatial objects from the series Japan are cautiously confronted with the recent works. In A Garden of Illusion, Ziach partly worked with photographs from her archive, setting them anew in black hardwood frames and combining them with mirrors which have been treated in such a way that the glass seems weather stained. The blown-up photographic image and its reflection have been corroded by time. The work is more and more about the surreal power of the reflection. Her own body, the model – so present in all her previous work - has had to make way for the mirror as space-creating and nostalgic element. A total of ten photoworks have been executed partly in monochrome blue and partly in sepia tones. From these tones the initially black-and-white image acquires an entirely new dimension. Ziach associates the deep blue with the imagination and with dreams, the cool touch symbolizing feeling in a spiritual sense; whereas the warm sepia colour has to do with earthly things, in a more metaphorical sense with things of the flesh, with plain eroticism. The photoworks in sepia are mostly shown as floor objects, literally as ‘pedestrian’ objects; together, by the purity of their form, they have to create an equilibrium. The title The Curtain of Pleasure incites the imagination to perceive an erotic element to be looked for behind a ‘Magrittian’ triptych. It is a large surrealist folding screen. An auburn, neatly draped curtain reaching to the floor constitutes the centre panel; the smaller volets infinitely mirror the curtain in weather-stained glass. The work raises questions and challenges the imagination. The counterpart of this rather closed object is the work A Sense of Time, another huge ‘folding screen’ consisting of a central photograph of an blue sky that is reflected in the weather-stained glass of the volets. In fact this is a documentary photo about the illusion of time and timelessness. This is one of the photographs from A Garden of Illusion with an iconic character, pictures of rising wisps of smoke, clouds and streets have the same quality, because they are permanent and as it were unaffected by time. Other photographs have a clear autobiographical, sometimes nostalgic, character. Detail shots of facades from the Jewish ghetto in Cracow and of a large wet kerbstone in Paris are embodied in a heavy, conceptual form. The choice is made quite intuitively, even in the way she presents things Ziach is not rigid. The order of the works is variable, she likes to be guided by the atmosphere and the architectonic surroundings where the work is shown, which inevitably leads to compromises. As from her participation, in 1992, in the international group show Outer Space in the UK - where she was represented with three installations from the Japan series - Ziach has also been using the space around the photo sculptures. On the floor in front of some of the works she sprinkles geometrical patterns of shell sand, charcoal and pulverized marble. A rigidly raked field of immaculately white shell sand in the shape of a semicircle - with a centre of charcoal - suggests a small part of a meditative Zen garden at the foot of the triptych The Anatomy of the Big Buddha. The object In the Mirror of Your Eyes is like a large eye without the white, lying on the floor. The iris is blue and made of the street shot from Paris mentioned earlier. The pupil consists of a velvety layer of cobalt blue pigment. With the use of sand, pigment and minerals as a kind of ‘prima materia’, Ziach refers to a more esoteric dimension in her work. The series A Diary of Desire entrances the soul. It consists of six existing photographs in sepia tones. The order of the pictures is not definitive, it is a wall object with a mobile shape. Part of the photographs have an abstract quality. Yet cut-outs of cell structures and foliage, as well as vague plane divisions, get more emotionally charged in the vicinity of detail shots of a woman in ecstasy. Her portrait is shown several times in the exhibition. Behind wisps of dark dishevelled hair her face, each time with a slightly different expression of pleasure, is partly hidden. These are subtle variations on the same theme. The concepts of ‘polarity’ and ‘stability’ do certainly apply to the series A Garden of Illusion. Indeed there is a pleasant paradoxical contrast between the rational outer form of the objects and the sensitive, vulnerable themes of their content.
Translation: J.M. Keulers