Angelika Markul / Man, Machine, Animal. Posthumanism in the Works of Chosen Contemporary Artists / Contemporary Lynx / Anna Tomczak

In the latest issue of Contemporary Lynx you could read an article by Anna Tomczak “Man, Machine, Animal. Posthumanism in the Works of Chosen Contemporary Artists”, where you could find informations about Angelika Markul’s works.


Nature is not only a source of cognition; it is also a force to which the humanist categories of good and evil cannot be assigned. They become outdated in the face of nature’s ruthless egalitarianism. Each person is equal in the face of the forces of nature. The demonic forces of nature and the paltriness of man in comparison with the constant circle of life are the leitmotifs of Angelika Markul’s works, a Polish artist who graduated from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in Christian Boltanski’s class. Markul travels to places of man-inflicted disasters – Chernobyl or Fukushima – with no regard to her own body. Her camera records the virtually post-apocalyptic images in those places, where the call for the posthumanist equality of species has become a fact. ‘Bambi in Chernobyl’ (2013) is a distanced record of the artist travelling through the town of Pripyat and other areas in the vicinity of the power plant which were contaminated after the explosion in 1986. The town is undergoing a process of natural decomposition; trees grow out of the buildings, the famous big wheel disappears behind the thickets. The snow covers the branches of the forest trees. In the context of the past disaster, the present quiet and tranquility affects the viewer very strongly. They leave their comfort zones of watching the screening in the secure space of a gallery. Markul moves even further by creating a sculpture in the exhibition hall, reproducing minimalist forms which can be associated with the images captured in the video. On the wall, there is a plant collected during the shooting – a radioactive branch with a few leaves, and despite the fact that it has been set within frames in a secure way, it introduces a feeling of threat. This installation creating intensive sensations provokes the following questions: who is man compared with nature and what change to the ecosystem does your presence bring?

Watching another film shot in Fukushima (‘Welcome to Fukushima’, 2013) only two months after the nuclear disaster, the viewer experiences chaos. Countless objects, scraps of things that were once used by man, are scattered in large area, and piled together by water. Markul perceives this mass as a sculpture, and assigns aesthetic value to the disaster and pays tribute to nature. She gives a place in the hierarchy of significance existing in the ecosystem to the same mighty force that is demonstrated in the video and sculpture installation entitled ‘Devil’s Throat’ (2012), which presents a recording of the Iguaçu waterfall. With the use of a simple trick, she reverses the direction of the element – the water flows upwards instead of downwards. Sculpture objects placed in front of the screen in a dark room resemble the residue thrown onto the shore by water. The attempt to identify them may lead the viewer to various interpretations – on the insignificance of human existence, or natural processes that constantly transform things.

In Markul’s works, ‘human’ is a symbolic representative of the passing humanism, and nature presented by the artist – destructive and thoroughly creative – is a vision of the posthumanist status quo, a natural balance in which we must humbly accept our place in the same way as animals, plants and technology do. Such project of symbiosis proposed by Markul requires development and acceptance of changeable conditions from all parties and agents. The artist is aware of this, leaving the viewer with her strongly disturbing works.”

Read full article in Contemporary Lynx 2(6)2016

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