For the Polish section of the international and itinerant exhibition „Seed Project“, the artists Alek Slon and Magda Fokt draw upon the challenges of our times, where the unleashed forces of nature turn against humankind after decades of exploitation. Thus, in the framework of the exhibition project „Seed“, they convey a poetic dimension to the theme of sustainable development, which aims at contributing to the ongoing societal debates on how to tackle the challenges for humankind and our natural surroundings alike. Theirs is not a position in the stricter sense of „political art“, but rather an abstracted view, taking into account mythology, history and psychology in order to lay bare the dynamics of our being in and confronting the world.
With his painting MODULOR USURPER, Alek Slon proposes a new reading of the ancient Greek myth of Polyphemus, the cyclops defeated by Odysseus, melting it with one of the most prominent symbols of modernist belief, Le Corbusier´s Modulor, which submits every development to the human dimension. Cyclops, bigger and more powerful than man, builder of walls and weapons, and endowed with a one-eyed vision, represent a metaphor for the ingenuous striving for power and wealth. In contemporary terms, it may translate into the uncontrollable forces of industrial and economic development of mankind. In the original myth the monster, day after day, devours Odysseus' companions, promising him to be eaten last. Nowadays, humankind has become subject to complex processes that are difficult to control. Modernism with its belief of everlasting progress and growth has proven to have created inequalities, environmental degradation and climate change, resulting in fostering military, industrial or social violence - a multifaceted contemporary Polyphemus, so to say. Alek Slon´s work invites us to reflect on these parallels of the ancient myth and our times. While Odysseus succeeds in defeating Polyphemus by using his genius and creativity to escape the trap, we are left to wonder whether we will be able to take similar actions to turn our destiny around.
Magda Fokt addresses this question from another perspective. The basis of her abstract paintings Seed - the border between life and death is formed by the representation of two opposing elements, water and stone. Where the stone stands for a self-contained immutability, water is an all-encompassing element and a force of change. Together they form a dichotomy that may be read as an allegory of our earth. To this, the artist adds poppy seeds, which she uses as a kind of pigment, charged not only with colour but with metaphorical meaning.
The poppy was considered a symbol of death in ancient mythology and associated with the god Morpheus and the goddess of the earth, Demeter. It was believed to grow on the banks of the river of oblivion Lethe, which is the border between the land of life and eternal sleep. In the Slavic tradition, the poppy was a plant that allowed people to cross the border between life and death. Nowadays, poppy seeds are used in the production of opium. In this sense, the poppy represents a warning, it exposes our tendency to sedate ourselves in order not to see the consequences of our actions for the ecosystems we are a part of.