„Don't throw”. The duality of human nature.

As part of the usual celebration of the feast of lovers, users of the popular social networking site were invited to an intriguing sounding event: "Do not stand and do not look". The title corresponded perfectly with the most willingly undertaken activity by the lion's share of today's society, which is the affirmative clicking "I like it" and "I will take part".

This joke was meant to be an invitation from Monika Szpener to the projection of the animated film displayed on a building during St. Valentines day. It was supposed to be an ironic commentary on the cultural and economic side of this consumptionist holiday. The projection never happened, as a result of a negative outcome of a procedure of gaining consent from ”the owners of gastronomic premises, usurping the right to control the public space”. Instead of a planned projection , we received a conceptual proposal questioning the status of public space, which is like a catalog of works that have never been created.

"Do not Stand and Do not Look" was also an overture to the exhibition entitled "Do not Throw", however this time, it does not contain any irony. It revolves around serious issues, which are, on the one hand about the delicate matter of feelings, and on the other about the extraordinary biology of the most important human organ, which is the heart.

The installation presented in two halls of the gallery consists of a series of white, scaled, plaster hearts. Multiplied and deliberately broken objects are placed here to protect the belated message printed on the tape surrounding the room saying: do not throw.This appeal can be interpreted in the context of the colloquial language, in which it’s used as a synonym of a violent and painful end to the emotional relationship, as well as a call to take all precautions when dealing with the most important element of the circulatory system, an excellent pump.

At the same time, the gallery space, which, quite unusually for the character of Monika Szpener's actions, replaced the public space, was treated by the artist as a kind of packaging, the installation of a complementary element. This decision seems to be a matter-of-fact answer to the ideal vision of the white cube in the view of Brian O'Doherty as an suspended in a vacuum archetypal space, in which the viewer's eyes and minds are welcome, while bodies are only tolerated.

On the contrary to that, corporeality is an integral element of the Szpener’s exposure, not only because of the white, sculptural material commonly associated with stiffening of broken limbs. Plaster and enlarged organ, which is the heart, culturally covered with innumerable metaphors, but stripped of the expected red pigment, becomes a reflection of a visually disturbing, lifeless muscle.

The use of the heart both as a metaphor and object can be found in the reference to the philosophy of life of Sřren Kierkegaard, combining man and nature, or referring to the perspective of biophilia, for which biology is a paradigmatic science, revealing the nature of reality. In "Do not throw" installation, the artist admits to being inspired by research in the field of cardiology, specifically the decelle process, which involves thorough rinsing of the myocardium to obtain the original tissue, the "skeleton" itself made of proteins, which are then implanted into stem cells. The aim of this procedure is to restore the organ and bring it back to life. Positive test results mean the chance of survival for many patients waiting for a transplant.

Szpener’s installation fits in with the debate on the relationship between the biological and cultural on the level, which Alfred Barr would classify as organic, emotional, irrational and even romantic. Although the artist herself admits that this, even though the starting point for her artistic activities are always emotions, is the first such personal work, but by reaching out to the field of medical sciences she puts this proposal in a safe position, away from criticism which could arise because of the choice so universal as the heart, especially in the context of popular Valentine's and associated with them hedonistic materialism.

Emotional ties, love, understood also as a deep friendship (Aristotle), is an extremely delicate and difficult matter to express, which is particularly visible when using a language that is evolutionary secondary to emotions. The exhibition "Do not throw" can be interpreted as characteristic Monika’s work - the statement, not without humor and distance, about today’s consumerism and the functioning of public space. However, before everything else, it is a multithreaded, sculptural story about emotions and the dual nature of human nature, enclosed in the gallery space which was transformed into an element of the installation

J. Szczepanik

translation J.Roguszczak