Zuza Banasińska’s video is a peculiar grotesque. In spite of referring to the sublime poem The Waste Land, what the artist offers is a profane space. The search for catharsis in the field of culture and art – one of the main motifs in Eliot’s outstanding work – is reduced here through a radical gesture to associations with filth in the physiological sense, decay, everything that is “ugly” and embarrassing in the process of metabolism. The use of fragments of a cleaning agent commercial corresponds with the context of the venue – a sewage pumping station in the City Port – whereas quotes from pop culture strip Eliotian connotations of all elegance. Banasińska puts forward the thesis that the contemporary society’s desire for purification does not have much in common with the idea of elevation offered for millennia by cultural and religious rituals, or, as Eliot would have it, realised in the field of art. In her view, the present time is primarily characterised by denial, an existential and cognitive paradox symbolised by all filters, purifiers and detergents – tools used in the pursuit of aseptic sterility in the physical and physiological sense.
photo: Małgorzata Kujda