Monday, October 31, 2011

The Political Sight - Konrad Pustoła's 'Views of Power'

What do you see?

This, here, is an image of power.
Pure and simple, it is what a specific person with power sees. Out of the window. Every day.
Some of the Views of Power, a project by Konrad Pustoła, could be postcards. They are annoyingly nice. Others - most of them, actually -  seem violent in their chaotic setting.
And so, the game begins - can you match the picture to the person? Does it tell you something more about who the person is? Or is it vice versa - the person informs your view of what this view is?

After taking the pictures, Pustoła posted them on billboards in every possible corner of the city.
No, it's not about the contrasts. It's not about looking for contrast. Rather, it is about asking yourself, what is this power? What does this view have? Do I want something from it? What could I possibly want - and expect - from this? Each context is a confrontation of one view with another. It shows the complex web of relations that go beyond a simple decision-making process. For it is clear, here, that we are part of this world of power to a much greater extent than we might think. We co-define it. Which makes it less surprizing to discover the familiarity of some of these views.

One of the most exciting aspects of this project is perhaps the most obvious one - why this window? What is this person's power? It's like trying to discover what are the superpowers of some superhero - only here, there is no super. The power is quite real. It can be power over the soul, the body, the political body. But we can name it, one way or another. And through this simple choice, of deciding this is a person with power, Pustoła provokes us, saying, look, I've made my choices, those are the views I associate with power, here and now, where are yours?

The accent on our capacity to choose power comes across even in the formal approach: these pictures are not attempting to be particularly nice, or ugly. They aren't shot as panoramas, which could seem an obvious solution. But a wrong one. It would suggest that the picture sees it all - that there is, indeed, a panorama. The "standard" angle is a political choice. It tells us clearly, this is the view. The limits are part of this game. They provoke us, ask for alternatives, answers, consequences other than the ones we already have. The billboards set the record straight: if power is always symbolic, the symbol requires context more than scope. The choice, and hence the power, is sharp as a small and precise frame.

There is one more aspect of this simple and effective work.
It was made locally. I was told the plan is to have the scope broadened. I like it as it is. It was made in one Polish city - Krakow. It is the third largest Polish city. Not the capital. Not the center. Neither the periphery. It is one place in the world. And a few windows. Where's the power? In the view, of course.
The views, in order of appearance, belong (?) to: Wisława Szymborska (poet and Nobel Prize Laureate), Magdalena Sroka (v-ce President of Krakow), Jerzy Meysztowicz (businessman), Andrzej Wajda (film director), and, below two of the pictures on billboards, cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.


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