original text was printed in Polish
„Exit”, 2007, nr 2
Theoretical program by Michał Brzeziński has been based on the assumption of search for a new version of the video art aesthetics and idea. In this concept, there has been no place for the video painting or installation documentation aspects. The theoretical discourse approaches – as a key problem – video in terms of creating mental space to follow the achievements of structural film, as understood by the Film Form Workshops. Nevertheless, the artist attempts to enrich this with a new symbolic meaning. Further, his concept refers to filming the reality in documentaries and reaching to amateur photography. The dynamic kind of editing, typical of constructivists, has been of vital importance. What has the artist stressed in his texts? He has been searching for a new style founded on various examples from documentary and vanguard films, within the context of the meaning of the 20th century history, marked as a blood thirsty and criminal era dominated by two totalitarian systems. He has intentionally referred to the tradition, for example, to the geometrical abstraction, trying to animate it – though it has been a difficult task – with such categories as the “absolute” or “energy”. He commented on the above in his (2007) Video Illuminations and Video Narrations text: “I believe it is high time to stop thinking about video and film in terms of light, and approach them as the time in the course of which various meaning interrelations take place. One can refer at this point to the post-structural and semiology links between the picture and the image. In this sense, I am convinced that one should return to Nam June Paika and his narrations about the world that are, essentially, media collages that I had looked for at the outset of my artistic path (The Heart of Cronos).”
The Pain (2001) is very significant in the videography covering so far nearly thirty films. It has been based on classical music, contemporary techno and on the material “borrowed” to convey the artist’s own message. The selection of film material has been important here; reaching into feature movies of the so called Polish School, body-art (Franco B.), American movies and Warsaw Uprising documentaries. The notions of pain – historic, artistic, religious – have been combined in short takes. The world is the screen focusing on and reflecting the real contemporary feelings; including suffering which ever more often turns into a rare commodity. All elements of the theoretical program have been present in the Warsaw (2003) video. It has depicted the era of social realism, its architecture, politicians and poor men within the historical context. The video rhythm, and clip like editing correspond to a sound track. In the later period, Brzeziński turned towards the so called mirror reflection which is visible in the Handworks (2004). The latter, however, can be criticized as too formal, too abstract and too much picture deformation oriented. The AV 60 has been his most important video. The visual tradition has served here to refer to the vanguard film tradition (Andallusian Dog, Anemic Cinema) and to revive the 50’s kinetic trends. Further, the video has been the screen that illustrates aspects of light and absorbs each type of message. The movie has been very dynamic. It has been composed of four parts, being an afterthought on the history and essence of art. It has stressed what this medium can offer in terms of time and space interrelations, including the takes animated in geometric forms. What is time, and what is the time in the video? What is mind, and what is the mind of a viewer? This questions have been asked in the Landschaft versus the Polish Cause video, shot during a train trip. The window pane/ screen/ mind is not fully clear/ legible, it is even a bit dirty, so the transparency of the movie (photography) has been ruled out, but should the mind be like this? This simple work, strongly rooted in Poland because of the landscape, brings back a theoretical issue of the film medium and its identity that has to be liberated from an influence of painting; realistic and abstract alike, though they can serve as sources of inspiration.
Does the Tr13 work deal with the optic op-art? I believe that this is not the path to follow for video or even painting since it has been already exploited. Certainly, the Vera Icon – also made in 2006 – is more interesting. Here, the abstract form has been applied in the dream like and symbolic fashion. It has turned out that one cannot escape from literary meanings, only questions can be asked in different way. One cannot escape from the film narration, and a perfect example to follow – I hope not only for me – is Bill Viola, not Mathew Barrney.
The theoretical program offered by Brzeziński makes him the most outstanding theoretician of the first decade of the 21st century in this area of art. One will see whether he succeeds in implementing in his future works the postulates to combine various film formulas, including “archive pictures”, and references to the symbolic world tradition. He has all the opportunities to achieve this goal. For the time being, he has been searching for all formulas to develop the new video horizon.