- video, ca 5’00”, 2023
The burning wreath in Szymon Szewczyk’s latest video consists of carefully selected flowers, whose choice was determined by the symbolism attributed to individual plants. The starting point for the work was an unusual “exchange” of opinions observed by the artist several years ago on Petrova Gora, Croatia, near Vojin Bakić’s 1981 anti-fascist monument to the People’s Uprising of Banovina and Kordun, now badly deteriorating. Szewczyk noticed a partly charred wreath laid at the monument, which simultaneously testified to a ritual of commemoration and a gesture of defiance against it – a kind of “dialogue” carried out through symbolic gestures. He decided to repeat this situation, first composing a wreath made of flowers selected for their symbolic meaning and then documenting the process of burning it. Referring to the tradition of still lifes and vanitas, Szewczyk has created a romantic, audiovisual essay. His very inspiration – a monument built under socialism to commemorate the fight against Nazism, now neglected and gradually dismantled by the local community – illustrates the fleeting nature of attempts to symbolically immortalise events in collective memory. By using floral motifs, which have connoted specific meanings in European cultures for centuries, Szewczyk’s work looks at the lasting and transformation of symbols, posing questions about their universalism.