SYNOPSIS BY OLIVIER CASTEL: A queue of people waited and chatted, standing in the narrow stairway leading to the first floor gallery. Kazimierz Jankowski didn't fill the gallery with things, but rather, made one incredible decision: this was an exhibition for one person. Only one visitor was allowed in at a time, the rest of them had to wait for their turn.

As the first artist in a cycle of seven solo exhibitions, Jankowski's show acted as an inviting and puzzling introduction. Each exhibition lasted for only as long as the film that the artist had chosen: each exhibition is therefore even shorter than a normal private view. Jankowski took the phrase private view very literally, offering his audience a very private view indeed, an entire exhibition for only one visitor.

In French, Chose Your Own Adventure books—in which the reader assumes the role of protagonist, making a series of decisions which direct the plot—are known as The Book of Which You Are the Hero.

So a queue of people formed. They were not in a rush and seemed to enjoy the wait, understanding it as part of the exhibition. Waiting was indeed a substantial part of the exhibition and occupied the majority of the visitors' time.  Waiting is an activity that can quickly and easily lead to boredom, a state of mind in which Jankowski is particularly interested.

So people queued, standing in the stairway outside the gallery, in the company of the only object in the exhibition, or in fact outside the exhibition: a sign hung from the ceiling above the door to the gallery which read URINATING IN THE POOL IS NOT PERMITTED.

Before the audience even enters it the exhibition manages to impose its authority: a limitation (not more than one person inside) and a prohibition (no urinating) doubled as an accusation (you will, or will be tempted to, or will think of, urinating). Made of Perspex, a bit shiny and slightly reflective, the sign is black with white recessed letters. Its overall shape is almost cartoon-like, a squashed and flattened blob or a speech bubble with a missing tail. The sign hangs from two black chains.

I've waited, and now it's my turn, I push the door open and enter the exhibition. It's dark, and empty. The lights are off. The space is not large but has many windows, some with their shutters closed or half closed letting the glow from the lights outside partially enter the room and giving the viewer brief glimpses of the exterior. I am alone and know that until I leave no one else will enter the space. I could just stay until the end and literally occupy the whole exhibition, its total duration as well as its entire space. I could steal the show from everyone else's view.

The exhibition becomes a micro-state, with a territory (the gallery, the pool) and limits and boundaries made explicit. Inside the exhibition the viewer is given the freedom to behave as they wish, but they are also burdened with suspicion and guilt; alone inside the exhibition they can do anything, but anything can happen to them.

The sign at the entrance has set an accusatory tone—obviously we'll be tempted to wee in the swimming pool.

Urinating as graffiti.

The film chosen by Jankowski is projected on the largest of the empty walls: Charlton Heston is alone too. He has just entered a cinema and projects the film himself. Now seated, he watches a documentary on Woodstock, full of people; hippies and music. He knows the words off by heart and recites them aloud over the recorded voices. And he's alone, and sighs.

The Omega Man by Boris Segal was made in 1971. The last man alive… is not alone! Set in Los Angles in the near future, a virus has killed the entire population of the world, leaving Heston the last man alive. Some people didn't quite die though and instead exist in a kind of zombie state, curiously still able to speak, they aggressively criticise Heston's lifestyle. Will Smith recently made himself alone and lonely too, playing the starring role in the remake I Am Legend (2007). Maybe in a different near future someone will re-make Jankowski's show with Smith's film.

Now it is nighttime in the film too and I see Heston locking himself inside a derelict building, seeking protection from the zombies who hide from the daylight and spend their waking hours in pursuit of him. Like the shuttered windows in this exhibition Heston too has boarded-up his windows. In the next room, through a narrow kitchen, clean and empty, I hear Heston talking to himself, narrating his actions. This room is empty too, the lights are off and the shutters are half-closed. Still looking for that pool…

 
"The first indoor swimming pools were referred to as exhibitions. People used to say, "We're going to visit a swimming exhibition"." 1

Ed Ruscha photographed large empty parking lots, and empty swimming pools full of blue water too—an emptiness strongly reminiscent of his familiar Los Angeles, but which appears quite alien. The Omega Man, is set in Los Angeles, a Los Angeles of the near future, empty of people (apart from the zombies who creep out at night).

Los Angeles is also a vast and sprawling swimming pool showroom—a mass of exhibitions. There are probably as many swimming pools in this city as there have been movies made. Inflating the idea of the swimming pool, Jankowski has decided to bring it into the gallery, flooding the exhibition, and feeding our imagination and expectation with a big void.

Before he began making work in the form of words on walls, Lawrence Weiner created voids: large craters in the Arizona desert blown away with dynamite. The show's empty but we're queuing to see it. Boredom appears on the horizon, along with apocalypse.

This void is full: authority, responsibility and freedom all tumble in, along with their friends Single, Individual and Collective, all swimming in the pool, quarrelling and splashing one another with their inflatable props.

Like the title of a work by Bertrand Lavier, an equation could be drawn summarising Jankowski's work:

We have three big voids here: the gallery, the Los Angles presented in the film and the swimming pool.

Not so far from Los Angeles, and nearer to Weiner's desert craters in Arizona, sits Biosphere 2, an artificial closed ecological system containing an 850 square meter indoor ocean—a super swimming pool. Amongst other things the site has aided research into the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonisation. The first manned flights to Mars are expected within the next few decades, but training has already begun on Earth with people enclosed in small rooms for months at a time as a simulation tool.

Jankowski's exhibition is finished before you even enter it, in the sense that 'that's it', there is nothing more. He has amalgamated three different spaces, the gallery, the film, the pool, then fragmented the exhibition's given 98 minute duration into the sum of its many individual viewings. In doing so he has made each visit a unique, re-edited new short film. A film factory and a swimming pool, like a miniature re-make of Los Angeles. Water and cinema.


1) Parreno, Philippe, "After Effects" in All Hawaii Entrées/ Lunar Reggae, ed. P. Parreno and R. Thomas (Milan: Charta, 2006), p. 27

PRESS RELEASE / NEXT SHOW / BACK TO PROGRAMME / for more information please contact Katie Guggenheim katieguggenheim@gmail.com