saturday, 9 december Open 12 — 19
Municipal Gallery Arsenał

ul. Szyperska 2/6-8, 61-754 Poznań
T. +48 61 852 95 02

Opening hours:

Poniedziałek: nieczynne
Wtorek – Sobota: 12 — 19
Niedziela: 12 — 16

Bartek Arobal Kociemba
3.12.2021 – 23.01.2022
vernissage: 3.12.2021, 6.30 pm


The first thought was floral compositions on fire. The fire, which actually consumes the planet, is an ardent sign of social inequalities, discrimination, and polarization. The phenomena of social oppression are part of an intersectional process of environmental destruction. The alchemy of emotions comes from the inability to extinguish the flames of frustration. Therefore I play with it.
With a meditative practice of drawing and a dance ritual, by using my own body, I seek contact with fire’s nature. I engage with all my senses. I draw from the tradition of shamanism: what is to be expressed on the outside, must first be discovered from the within. Unrestrained and threatening emotions can reveal their inner wisdom. I take on the role of a mediator. Aggression is transformed into anger, clarity of vision, strength, and desire. These emotions, set in motion, transform themselves into the heat of passion, the lust. I know that if I go further, I will find a sense of care and oneness.
Fire seems to be something extramaterial. It connects the physical with the world of intuition, vision, emotion, inspiration, and longing. However, it always needs a carrier, a body. Fire appears in my works as a potential destructive force, but it is also a partner in dance. I discover fire in my own body. The movement of fire reveals a new world of shapes; in a drawing practice it translates into different forms: electrical discharges, broadly embracing flames, dancing strands, swirling tongues, and nets of intertwined veins. The superimposed planes by their structure resemble flowers.


Flowers symbolize social dilemmas; they may be both poison and cure. In a propitiatory act, I offer their ephemeral beauty as a fire offering, hoping for purification and a new beginning. In my drawings I refer to floral themes in relation to both: the Western tradition of botanical illustration and ikebana, the Japanese art of plant arrangement. Still lifes, flower compositions, and their representations have always been full of meaning. Drawing from them, I add new symbols, corresponding to contemporary dilemmas. I dive into an intuitive process where plants represent particular areas affected by pain. The presented drawing installations, the video, and art objects refer to pollution in the environment: water, air, and soil, and also touch on spheres of social violence: racism, chauvinism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism.


I explore my corporeality. Intuitively created choreography resonates with the shapes of plants and the rhythm of flames. The search for intensity of movement is reflected in the varied density of lines and shapes, the reiteration of gestures resonates with the rhythm of the compositions. My body, though always present, for the first time becomes the main tool in creating a visual narrative. I use masks, while losing individuality I open myself up to embody a broader experience.
I assume the role of a character called Atonan. With my dance I express the urge for destruction, but also the desire of closeness and care. Atonan is my avatar, a dancer propitiating and enchanting reality. At the same time, it is a physical manifestation of the need for authenticity—an encounter with my queer identity on my own terms, with no audience, beyond critique, and without applause.
The costumes I have created are paintings for dancing—yet another reference to shamanism. The specific element should be evoked in all possible ways: from the inside to the outside, from the environment to the interior. In the exhibition space they are presented as votive objects. The propitiatory offerings appear also on a smaller scale as miniature sculptures made from incense paste. Each week of the exhibition one of them is burned.
Colour, shape, touch, smell, sound and breath—this is how I want to evoke the reality in which you can immerse yourself in. I don’t want my works to be viewed from afar: you and your emotions are the main characters in the show; use the rest as a scenography for your journey.


curator: Jacek Zwierzyński
video production and photos: Mads Hemmingsen, Barbara Kai Kaniewska
collaboration: Lars Juhl, Stefan Węgłowski, Ewa Zwierzchowska
support: Jan Kardas, FX Team DK, Tableau Copenhagen
consultation: Mads Borre, Julius Værnes Iversen, Adam Lobel, Siri Wolthoorn


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