The World between Light and Dark
text: Magdalena Boffito

Car­nal­ity. Sin

The mar­velous is not the same in every period of his­tory,” Bre­ton wrote. It could be roman­tic ruins or a mod­ern man­nequin. In fact, it is all about cre­at­ing a game, a provo­ca­tion, a new vehi­cle for our emo­tions. The artist, cre­at­ing a new being or even just a dop­pel­gänger, assumes the role of a demi­urge. Our own body, so imper­fect and so lit­tle known can be the object of our inves­ti­ga­tion. This state­ment is a sort of usurpa­tion, an act of revolt and a dec­la­ra­tion of the urge to know.

Winiecki decon­structs the body and his anatomy les­son devel­ops in a very pecu­liar man­ner. One can sense both fas­ci­na­tion and ter­ror. The artist uncov­ers for us strange mutated growths, tan­gled mus­cles, knots, lumps, a com­plex tis­sue – and he does it as if he was per­form­ing an open heart surgery. The body con­sists of organs that seem to lead their own lives. What is more, the mat­ter that makes up the organs also has a life of its own. The body keeps throb­bing but at the same time it is con­stantly limited.

Winiecki shows char­ac­ters trapped, hin­dered, caught in all sorts of clogs, tongs, as if pet­ri­fied in their silent suf­fer­ing. The omnipresent pain is imma­nent, it does not come from the out­side but is an indis­pens­able com­po­nent of exis­tence. On the one hand, we have won­der­ful prod­ucts of nature’s fan­tas­tic fer­men­ta­tion; on the other – suf­fer­ing. We suf­fer, there­fore we are, Winiecki seems to be saying.

The body can be com­pared to a sen­tence that demands to be taken apart so that one can, through an infi­nite num­ber of ana­grams, dis­cover its real meanings.”11 “Mur­der is not a sin. Some­times it is a nec­es­sary vio­lence against stub­born and pet­ri­fied forms of being that stopped being fas­ci­nat­ing. Com­mit­ted in the inter­est of an inter­est­ing and sig­nif­i­cant exper­i­ment it can even become a merit. Here is the start­ing point for a new apol­ogy of sadism.”12

Winiecki is undoubt­edly fas­ci­nated by the infin­ity of com­bi­na­tions and con­fig­u­ra­tions in which the body uncov­ers its secrets – assem­bling, tak­ing apart, cov­er­ing, uncov­er­ing. Some­times one is struck by the frenzy and the hid­den cru­elty. The motif appears half-​jokingly in “Por­trait of Can­ni­bal” and “Skinning.”

Winiecki returns to this motif in “Methuse­lah” (1972). It is dif­fi­cult to deter­mine whether the name refers to the bib­li­cal fig­ure or to the old­est tree on earth (of the same name). The form of the work may sug­gest that the ref­er­ence is made both to the Old Tes­ta­ment char­ac­ter and to the Great Basin Bristle­cone Pine that grows in the White Moun­tains of Cal­i­for­nia. In a world where every­thing is per­mit­ted and words stop car­ry­ing mean­ing, one can only resort to acts of the will or try to get closer to “a per­cep­tion that broad­ens the hori­zons.”13

In his works Winiecki ask ques­tions that have been posed for ages – he is look­ing for the mean­ing of human life and suf­fer­ing. The artist returns to the sub­ject of biol­o­gism, sin and car­nal­ity in the cycle enti­tled “Film Frame.”

Winiecki presents a vista of uni­ver­sal cat­a­clism refer­ring to the Last Judge­ment. In this crowd of bod­ies, a tan­gle of arms and feet, every­one is anony­mous. Thus, we have a strong, evoca­tive vision of human suf­fer­ing, the pic­ture show­ing peo­ple writhing in par­a­lyt­i­cal spasms of pain. In this depic­tion of the hord of bod­ies there are no divi­sions – there is no left, right, up or down – there is noth­ing but chaos. Thus, there is nei­ther a reward nor a pun­ish­ment, as if the divi­sion into good and evil had been sus­pended. There is no divi­sion into the sacred and the pro­phane either.

Winiecki recre­ates the traces of per­fo­ra­tion on the engrav­ing to stress the fact that the picture’s source is the pho­to­graphic plate, that it has been reg­is­tered auto­mat­i­cally. God is absent.

We come from a cramped dark­room. Humankind car­ries the cramped dark­room inside; thanks to it we mul­ti­ply, we dream about it, we paint it. Peo­ple have been always going into dark grot­tos to watch, in the torch light, the mov­ing pic­tures unwit­tingly emerg­ing from the cal­care­ous walls. Mil­lenia have passed. Now pic­tures emerge from screens in weird rooms, built in city under­grounds, where the dark­ness does not come from the gods but has been cre­ated arti­fi­cially.”14

It is inter­est­ing that – even though car­nal­ity is so strongly stressed – there is not much nudity in Winiecki’s works and biol­o­gism is shown fil­tered by cul­ture. Eroti­cism is treated with utmost finesse.