In the vicinity of Gryfino – a Polish town located in western Pomerania – there grows an unusual cluster of highly deformed pines, known as Krzywy Las [Crooked Forest]. The bent trees are estimated to date back to the first half of the 1930s. According to the most probable hypothesis, they were grown in this way on purpose by notching young trunks in a highly precise manner. Wood obtained from such disfigured trees was supposed to be provided to local German carpenters as material for furniture because it offered perfect parameters for achieving stunning shapes, bent in a way typical for late Art Deco. This goal would be best served by ca ten-year-old trees – older ones tended to be too large. However, the plan was thwarted by the outbreak of the Second World War. After peace was restored, the forest kept growing, now on the territory of Poland, forming a bizarre reminder of modernist dreams and projects.
The word “display” – which can refer to both what is exhibited and presented on screen – is etymologically related to the Latin “dis-plicare,” literally meaning “to unfold” or “to spread out.” In The Fold. Leibniz and the Baroque, Gilles Deleuze demonstrates that the fundamental unit of being – i.e. the fold – and the fundamental feature of being – i.e. folding – are not contrary to the gesture of unfolding:
“Unfolding is thus not the contrary of folding, but follows the fold up to the following fold. […] Folding-unfolding no longer simply means tension-release, contraction-dilation, but enveloping-developing, involution-evolution. The organism is defined by its ability to fold its own parts and to unfold them, not to infinity, but to a degree of development assigned to each species.” (trans. Tom Conley)
In this exhibition I wanted to to transform the space of the BWA gallery in Zielona Góra into an optical machine designed to unfold the Crooked Forest.
[co-designer of the mirror: Mikołaj Ludwik Szymkowiak]