photo: Adam Šakový
'Paradox: the further and longer we walk, the less stuff we are taking along.'
While visiting Bratislava, Christian Jankowski happened upon a folk art shop and became intrigued with hand-carved walking sticks. These objects have been used as a support, a weapon, and symbol for the wanderer for thousands of years. They are also among the first tools fashioned and decorated by men, anchoring them within the early history of art. Jankowski was particularly interested in these walking sticks because they had faces carved into their handles—representations of animals, ghosts of the forest, and other mythical characters.
In order to better understand the craft and history behind this form of folk art, Jankowski met with the 77-year-old woodcarver, Oldrich Richter, who made these traditional walking sticks. In a filmed interview, the two discuss Richter’s profession and his creative processes.
The film, titled Carving Wood, becomes the introduction to the exhibition held at Galéria HIT, an artist-run space situated in the basement of the Bratislava Art Academy. The artist commissioned Mr. Richter to produce a new series of walking sticks, exhibited as part of the installation History of Man and Stick. Jankowski leans these walking sticks against the gallery walls and uses them to hold in place images illustrating the use of such sticks through the ages: from ancient Egyptian wooden figures to Pope John Paul II to Leonardo DiCaprio. A surprising dialogue arises from the juxtaposition of the carved wooden faces and the illustrated faces.
Instead of giving a talk at the academy, the students are invited to attend a normadic lecture titled Walking Logic in the hills and forests of Bratislava. Carrying a portable microphone and amplifier Jankowski reflects on his art practice and the production of art on unsolid ground.
Christian Jankowski (b. 1968 Göttingen, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. In 2016, Jankowski curated the 11th edition Manifesta — The European Biennial for Contemporary Art, becoming the first artist to assume the role. Recent solo exhibitions include Haus am Lütowplatz, Berlin, Germany (2016); Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2015); Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2013); Sala de Arte Publico Siqueiros, Mexico City, Mexico (2012); and MACRO, Rome, Italy (2012). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including The Yokohama Triennale (2017); Autogestion, Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain (2016); Project Los Altos (off-site show in Silicon Valley, staged by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, US, 2013); Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2010); the Whitney Biennial, New York, NY, US (2002); and the Venice Biennale (2013 and 1999).