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'DOM (The House)' by Agata Ingarden at Piktogram, Warsaw

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Agata Ingarden, The Screen, 2018
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Agata Ingarden, The Screen (detail), 2018
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Agata Ingarden, The Mirror 1, 2018
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Agata Ingarden, The Journey to the Left, 2018
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Agata Ingarden, untitled (detail), 2018
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Agata Ingarden, Lucy (detail), 2018
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Agata Ingarden, Lucy (detail), 2018
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Agata Ingarden, The Bench, 2018
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Agata Ingarden, The House, 2018
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Agata Ingarden, The Arm, 2018

The House project, starts with 9 short stories happening during the time of holidays somewhere on an island in the Mediterranean sea. The little microcosm that emerges from the stories is a world where the narrative mixes with natural textures. Each short story is a point of view in the space of the House. The time in the House is a constant loop. It seems that there is no possible moral positionment towards the facts that happen and yet everything still “functions” keeps rolling. It’s a state of insomnia, boredom that transformes time into a present moment and puts all the things at the same level of indifference. Indifference where it is difficult to determine what “things” are so they might as well become something else. The very mundane objects become strange and transformed matter just a piece of the landscape. Words accumulate meanings through time and transform the perception of matter. Finally we find ever-present mythological motives that crawl back to the surface deforming it. I think that the need to understand the world around is a creative act. The question I pose myself is how do we create our vision of the world based on the assosiations we make between our personal experiences and our sherd understanding of symbols, myths and matters. In this creative process the importance of images difused by media becomes significant.In my opinion this constant rumor of information rejoin the current of history that is being told by humanity.

The focus is on two items: a TV set and an old, rusty amphore next to it. We can hear a TV host discussing the influence of technology on the modern society. We can feel the stillness that emanates from the ancient object. There is something sublime about their juxtaposition, since the presented objects – in spite of the physical proximity – could not be more distant from each other. The flat screen and the voices it emits seem trite when confronted with the mysterious artifact. The scene presents itself as an invitation to withdraw from the realm of technology and the crude affairs of contemporary life. For there are greater stakes: there is Time, there is Life-As-Such, there is History. And yet, there is something not quite serious – something playful – about the described setting. As the camera zooms on the vase, the object becomes unfamiliar at first. We can see dried-out algae and mussels that stuck to its surface on the sea bottom. It seems organic, almost endowed with its own life. Upon closer inspection, though, other details become visible – like the small rifts that were left on clay by an ancient’s hand. Now the vase does not lurk from the dark depths of Being any longer. It does not invite us to ponder about the passing time; it is no longer distant from the TV host. To the contrary, it is strikingly present and ridicules Larger Affairs. Although, placed in the center of the video frame, the item still provides distraction from the TV anchor’s techno-talk, it suddenly strikes the viewer as the utmost embodiment of technicity itself.

— Arkadiusz Półtorak

The House 

The House is far away from any village and has its own atmosphere, making it a perfect place for an emergence of a microcosm. Distortion of the perception of time and space, connected with the particular, in a social sense, time during the year (holidays) and augmented atmospherical conditions (heat), allow for a specific situation to occur. A house surrounded by an olive, fig and pomegranate garden from one side, from the other hanging on the rocks that lead to the sea, becomes a stage for the events of equal meaning. One cannot compare these events to those of the outside world deciding that the connection is voluntarily or non voluntarily lost. Appearance of a snake in the garden becomes as important or not important as what will we cook for dinner or if the wind is blowing from the East or from the West. The space of the House and its surroundings is limited. Mountains from the North, sea from the South, a road with no end from the East (as if someone forgot to draw the rest) and a village from the West. Approaching to the boarders one always returns to the center. Even swimming further away in the sea, the voices of the swimmers can be heard in the house - the further they are the clearer their conversation seems. Everyday resembles the other, so on the first day of arrival one has a feeling of always having been there. One is not sure anymore if it is the first day because the 5th day will be exactly the same as the first one and last one may as well be the first. This feeling is augmented by the every-year, circular, cyclical, season-like reoccurrence of the event. The people in the house have all strong relations between them, connecting them on various social levels. Mother - daughter - best friend’s cousin - brother - lover of the best friend who is daughter of the father of... etc. Despite these strong relations that could evoke longing, we realized with a friend, that the day one of our best friends left, she was not there and she has never been there. It did not matter if one is about to come, or one has spent there a certain amount of time - not being in a present day equals non- existence. So the time exists or does not exist only around the House. Trapped in a timeless loop one has a limited number of moves, activities one can undertake there - leaving one to just being.We stopped floating on the surface of simply being bored with something and were looking at it from underneath the ocean - the overwhelming calm presence. 

Appearance of the snake in the garden

We sat at the dinner table on the terrace. As the dinner was getting to its end, my Mother told a story of the Snake. It was a year ago or two that I went out on the terrace in the full sun. And there it was a snake on the stones of the terrace and it came from the garden, that for sure or maybe the mountains. And I knew it was venomous because it had the black stripe on it so I took a broom, you know because the broom was lying there and I came out to clean the terrace. I tried to kill it with the end of the stick but the snake went through the hole, so I lifted it and threw it away in the distance. And there it was the snake you know, so I caught it, I tried to kill it. It was a venomous snake and there are some here, if the cats don’t eat them, there are some, and they come out to the sun to rest. It would come to the house so I caught it, and threw it away. And the owners also say that there are venomous snakes here and we have to be careful, so I caught it. It was two years ago or maybe it was the last year but they say that if its venomous you have to kill it but I just threw it away. But the cats normally kill them you know, I feed the cats in the morning. None of the present was a witness to the event. None of the present had ever seen a venomous snake in the surrounding. The snake did not exist. Almost all participants of the conversation knew the story though, being told many times before. She did tell it over and over again repeating the same words and phrases almost for twenty minutes. We didn’t know anymore if we heard it before or if she’s saying it for the first time. The perception of time got lost in the story, making the moment last for ever or maybe with every repeated word - words disconnecting from their meaning, the new potential of the narrative emerged. As to say bored to death we tried to end this monotonous discourse by leaving to the beach. On our way back, we stepped on a venomous snake. There it was petrified and frozen in range of a flashlight. The snake came out of the Mother’s mouth and installed itself in the House. 

The impossibility of the journey to the right

The House is defined by frontiers from all geographical points. North - a chain of mountains, that one can cross through a tunnel carved in stone, a tunnel without any light or ventilation. The tunnel can be passed only in a car with closed windows as it is filled with exhaust and other gasses. It is also riddled with wine cellars. From the West there is a village, a phantom one, active only during holiday season. There are ten houses, one market, one restaurant, one church, one bar, one haven, and probably people.The South is the Sea, with a distant, de- serted island in front of ours. And every year, we say we will discover it by boat, but it’s still there, unmarked - a green line with one house on it, that we can see from the shore, mirroring our island. And then there is the East. A vast land of 50 km with one road. And it has been said, that there must be something there, though no-one ever reaches its limits. And even House morning runners only run towards the village, never in the opposite direction. The Dad, stated that there is “Bad” in the right-east direction. And others said that too, vaguely mentioning a weird feeling they had, or something they had seen going there. Mother had seen snakes, brother his unfinished graduation film, and a friend said she almost broke her neck after she tripped. The too-early or too-late 5 o’clock dinner, misplaced in the usual day routine, was overpowering. The overly official context of it was mis- matching /glitched with still too warm sunlight descending on the table, melting the dishes and attracting wasps to the roasted meat. I left the table and went to the other side of the terrace. I undressed myself from the dress and passed naked next to the mouldering dinner table to get my Nike running bra and shorts that were drying in the sun.I decided to run to the end of the East-road. Somebody might have mentioned it was not a good idea so I started to run. After a few kilometers a bit higher up the hill, I passed a house with a view on the House. It seemed inhabited, with some cooking pans left and leftovers of warm food on the terrace, but no-one was there. I ran further . The sun was setting as I sat on a rock next to the road to drink water. I waited. The road was there - still and empty. I could have sat on the rock a bit further but there was no difference. It was the same rock as I was sitting on. I turned around and ran towards the House, road closing behind me, I passed the rock few times on my way back. 
The Moth

After the sunset I was sitting alone in the living room. Doors to the terrace open, crickets and mosquitoes around. Full after the dinner, half-lying half-sitting on the couch I stared. In the staring the new sound appeared in the room. Differing itself from the insects flying around and the sound of the sea waves outside. It was constant, mechanical and loud. I located it in the left corner of the room where the TV was. It seemed to be electrical cables so I approached the table. I looked down to the wires attached to the back of the TV then followed to the plugs. It was a moth that got trapped in a spider’s web under the TV. The Moth was quite big and the bzzz-sound was not purposeless, it was the sound of a last fight for survival. I decided to help it and take it out of the web. I gently caught the moth to separate it from the web but the web was sticky and all over its wings, so I tried and tried to take it off. The Moth is lying on its back moving the wings desperately and destroying them even more. A friend passes and stops interested in what I am doing on the floor. I ask her to bring me some tools. There is two of us now, trying to save the moth. I know that it is about time to make a decision and even if we take off the web, the wings are too destroyed for it to be able to fly. We sit there and stare on the tweezers and a flyswatter and the Moth vibrating on the floor. I look my friend in the eyes. Kill it - I say. She kills the moth and I go back to the couch. Half-lying half-sitting on the couch I stared. There was no disturbance in the sound. She was crouching on the floor looking at the splash. I was looking at her now. 

The Inverted Hive

The day was in its full. Everyone in the House was resting somewhere half-sleeping during the time of siesta. Heat was crushing the forms, air vibrating, overwhelming sound of cicadas melted in the warmth. Everything was still. I sneaked out of the house to walk around the garden. One olive tree was moving slightly. I made my way towards it and saw a wasp trap hanging on a string from the tree branch. It was a plastic bottle with little holes burned in it with a lighter. At the bottom of the bottle there was a sticky dark liquid consisting of sugar and meat. A hundred wasps were flying around and inside of the bottle. The liquid was not dark, it was the wasps that were already dead. The others did not stick to it anymore but attracted with decay were trapped in the bottle. The reverberating swarm made the bottle pulsate, causing the olive tree to shiver. In the proximity of the tree there was a plastic tank, 1000l large storing the water for the house. Underneath the tree there was a red plastic bowl with food for cats. The sound of the inverted hive fused with the plastic that was melting in the heat. I stared for a while and went to the shore to plunge into the sea. I dived to reach the bottom and my eardrums exploded. 

The Crime

There were 15 cats around the House. All of them come from one, once mistaken for a male, that is the mother of them all. The Cat had all the colours and patterns of all possible cats to come. Since the Cat there is more or less 15 of them now. Sometimes it’s the same ones, sometimes there are two identical ones, sometimes there is a new one. Always around 15 of them. They come to be fed in the morning but do not enter the house. The black and white one did come more than others. The owners said he was domesticated by the guests before. He soon became the favourite, purring while we caressed his fur. The social one, coming not for food but for the warmth of our hands. It was the Mothers’ favorite cat. The wind was blowing from the East, bringing a disturbance in the weather for the next day, the currents would change for sure. The members were gathered at the table drinking a wide range of alcohols, talking. My friend and I decided to go to the bar in the village to get a glimpse of, or just remind ourselves of the life outside of the House. The black and white cat followed us in the darkness, meowing. We stopped after a while and tried to make it turn back. It was still following us so we took it on our arms. We came back to the house during the night. In the morning there were around 15 cats that came for feeding. Someone mentioned that maybe the cat got lost. That evening, the Mother went looking for the cat and almost twisted her ankle on the road. In the morning there were around 15 cats that came for feeding. None of the cats were entering the house. 

Confessions in the sea

My friend’s mother chose to communicate by over-formulating all her thoughts and intentions with arabesques of conventionalities and exalted expressions. Her behaviour was a topic of conversations and jokes of a large part of the members of the House. My friend was ashamed of her Mother. The water was warm. Sun had almost set behind the West side of the island. The water had the same temperature as the air. The only way of realizing one was in the sea, was noticing the slower pace of movements, caused by increased resistance of matter. I was floating on my back, between the water and the air. My friend came down the rocks to swim with me. I think, I know that they’re laughing about her, I saw them talking when she left, I wanted to leave the dinner, I was ashamed of her - she said trying to adjust to my floating rhythm. I am sure they do, And its just the same as when we laugh about our other friend, and as they laugh about me. There is a limited number of moves. We laugh and keep looking each other in the face- I replied and kept on swinging with the slight movement of the tides. She didn’t hear it though, as my voice, being swept with water, was reasoning in the center of the House. Some of the members were sitting at the terrace looking at us floating in the distance. 

The Dad

Dad is tired. He is an architect and we play chess sometimes in the evening. Everyday Dad gets up from the terrace at 2pm, when the wind starts to blow above 3 in the Beaufort scale. He gets on his windsurfing board to swim against the tides, towards the island in front of the House and back. He finally reached the island. He put down the sail and brought the board with him to the shore. He sat down on the rocks to rest.Behind him there was an empty house. The sun dried the salt on his skin and windsurfing suit. He looked around and then towards the House - island in the distance. There was a man sitting there on the other side, on the shore next to a windsurfing board, he was looking at Dad.

The Breathing Rock

The shore around the House is indented and has a typical karst landscape, based on limestone and dolomite. Layers of differing rock types fold into ridges that run parallel to the coast. The outer hard rock is punctured, allowing the sea to erode the softer rocks beneath. Surface water is rare, because it dissolves minerals in the rock and finds its way underground, making caves and underground streams. The rocks near the house are half-carved half-leveled with concrete, creating stairs and a platform that allow easier access to the boat. On the platform there is a swimming ladder which, is used by marble rock crabs and members of the House.

The tides changed with the wind around 3pm. All the members were displaced on the rocks dissolving on sun-beds in configurations of twos and threes, their sunglasses pointed towards the sun.

I was watching the salt crystalize in the rock ponds around. The water was moving, entering and bouncing back from the boat bay. I heard a respiration. I looked around to locate where it was coming from. Not finding the source I lied down on the warm concrete platform, adapting my back to the limestone behind me. The breath coming from the porous rock caressed my neck. I finally fell asleep.

21.10.18 — 10.11.18

Curated by Matylda Taszycka

Photo by Bartosz Górka

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