Tomasz Matuszak (Łódź)
The Inner Side of The Outer Space


Snedania na trafia

Tomasz Matuszak – Trabant lives in Lodz, where he was born and where he attended an art school.
In 1995, in Israel, together with Lexy Funk from the USA, set fire to an enormous circle of fibre at sunset on the desert. "I wanted to maintain that energy and show how it is transferred from the Sun to the Earth". In 1997, he set in motion his "Pneumachine" shown in Bytom Kronika Gallery. This "apparatus" made from sugar soaked up with water of almond scent was covered with a bed and accompanied by sound from "the depths of the body". The bed is associated with something pleasant and safe, said Trabant, as well as the almond scent, it reflects the better side of life.
He fills a tub with 50l. of blood in one of Berlin galleries naming it "Bloodbath". It is only blood, he says, but its context change. It is different when we leave it by drops in the laboratory, it is different on the TV screen and finally, it is different in tub in such quantity. Anyway, everybody thought I had meant the Holocaust. Still I wanted to show that you can do it this way too. Lots of people will find that provoking.
Somewhere in Poland in 1997, he buried himself in the ground. First, he buried his head. Burying heads was common Hindu meditation practice, as a sign of penance. Then he buried himself completely. And what did you feel? I asked. – It's amazing. At first panic and claustrophobia. Then cold and peace. Pleasant smell and total isolation, from everything.
In 1997 in Mount Abu, India – Beautiful country, very spiritual. You don't need to do anything artistic in our terms, in a set context between an artist and his audience or critics, career, publicity, etc. Art is consumed everyday there. Funny we couldn't explain it, the Hindus couldn't understand what we were doing and brought flowers, put them next to the things we were making, and prayed! At least we told them it was a tribute to Shiva – then they understood. We took part in this festival one March night. My work was entitled "Shiva's Tears or Obiecanki cacanki". That's because in India everyone says "no problem, we'll do it for you", but there is no fulfilment of those promises. The "Tears…" were three flower circles floating on the water in a quiet little bay for everyone to come and sit down a while and listen into himself.
In 1995 in Wschodnia Gallery, he offered "Time, Place and Temperature". A torso made from frozen dirt observed a clock on the wall and a compass, showing the magnetic poles, and a thermometer. The torso defrosted slowly, the clock counted the time, the needle of a compass pointed to the north, and the thermometer showed the temperature. (By the way, it must be interesting to hear the little grains of dirt falling off the torso as it defrosted in the dark and silence, observed by those magic instruments).
In October in the same gallery there appeared a weird construction called "The Inner Side of the Outer Space" – a development of a similar one from Zacheta, Warsaw. The Warsaw review said about it "an uncanny space, reminding of a cold, ice – coloured room in a mental hospital. Opposite the viewer there was an iron wall from behind which there came a deep, obsessed, frightening breath of someone you would be better off not even trying to imagine".
It was "Hipernation" – a pun meaning us becoming superhuman in our own eyes, capable of everything and often behaving us as if it was true. In Wschodnia Gallery, we could see what was behind that iron wall. And so? Instead of unimaginable mystery – a slovenly asymmetric, crooked cover bellied out here and there, looking as if it was going to fall into pieces any minute. "I wanted to show the penetration of what is the outer by what is the inner and the other way around. The boundary is usually difficult to grasp, you don't know any more what belongs where, what is whose domain. The senses say one thing – the imagination other. Spirit and matter".
In Vilnius, Lithuania, he renovated a room in a tenement house. In a small photo in the catalogue from the exhibition, you can see the wall of the house at dusk, lit with a streetlight. And two silhouettes are looking at an unblemished snow – white, glowing window… The clearness of the place provoked and intrigued the passers by, who asked if there would be a shop there and what would it sell.
In the shed in the Artists' Museum garden, he exhibited together with Adam Klimczak. There was a silence and two installations – the well with round portrait in the bottom and hands in begging gesture. It was raining.
In the piece called "Fish and Cheap" in Haifa the aura was organised by a sugar hand, water, sound, electric light and fish in an oblong aquarium. "I usually give my audience only a pretext for reflection. I build some kind of mood, atmosphere. It's enough to stop just for a moment and start their internal journey".
In 1996 in America, he floated on a raft. "I was invited to visit an art colony Art/Omi in New York State. It is placed on a farm in a beautiful neighbourhood. Victorian – style house, good food and nice people. There was a view of a wonderful, huge meadow through the house's windows. Shortly speaking – an idyll. So I decided to run in a little bit. I cut a circle out the meadow, then a triangle out of the circle. It was a disturbing view. And later, at five o'clock in the morning I invited everyone to a performance called "Breakfast on the raft" ("Śniadanie na tratwie") very badly misspelled by an American girl who was writing it in Polish – "Snedania na trafia". So we've floated on that grass triangle on the water of the being "Śniadanie na tratwie" alive. We had everything there: a basket full of food, wine, a naked woman and a dressed one, a man in black – like in Manet's painting ("Śniadanie na trawie" – in Polish). I moved that painted Europeanisms into America and the ground onto the water, everything good mixed".
In 1994 in Cardiff, he took part in an exhibition organised in a factory – school for construction workers. There he realized his project called "The Probability of Repetition". Seven heads rested in a rectangular container. "I had been thinking about it for a year when seven different people mistook me for someone else. And so, I became a wholly new person of a different identity, incidentally cloned.
In Berlin in 1995, he nearly burned during his performance called "An Unsuccessful Attempt of Teleport or You'll Never Get Away From Here". "I performed wrapped in aluminium foil. The whole event was a dispute with SF films. Have you noticed how silver prevails in all those films? Everyone wears a silver overall. My teleporter was a cage which was supposed to start burning when the time comes, and teleport me symbolically into the future. Unfortunately the liquid I used turned out to be too flammable so I found myself inside a burning construction ready to collapse and fall down on me any second, leaving no way to escape. I started to scream and the audience wasn't sure whether it was a part of the performance or a cry for help. The last thing I remember on the way to the hospital I thought to myself as I looked on the hospital room door: I made it! – The number on the door was 2001!"
Elements are what Trabant describes: water, earth, air and fire. "They are very capacious terms, full of meanings. The most fascinating is their inconstancy and power. They are unbridled, unpredictable. One should approach them with respect. I was sometimes arrogant".

Text by: Maciej Cholewinski
Translation: Anka Nowicka