Julia Taszycka. Dirt

“Dirt” – an art exhibition by Fulbright alumna Julia Taszycka in Poznań.

December 15 – 2023 – January 19, 2024.

Curator: Dominika Tylcz

Dirt is a presentation of new works by Julia Taszycka born out of her flaneuristic investigations into the socio-economic fabric of the rapidly-changing Poznań and its presently hippest neighborhood, Łazarz (Lazarus). The objects on view, all found on the streets of Poznań, are cast-off remnants of the widespread renovations occurring both in the urban infrastructural network as well as in private apartments. In an ironic, self-referential gesture, Taszycka reverses the hourglass of the economic value, imbuing detritus with the capital distinct to the art market. The title of the exhibition points to that paradoxical operation while asserting the literal state of the found objects, many bearing traces of unwanted, unsanitary matter hidden in their cracks and crevices.

In her new works, Taszycka singles out the byproducts of the architectural changes unfolding in her hometown to indexically document the larger systemic processes of gentrification. Pieces of plasterboard, parget, reinforced concrete, and window sills, strewn around the gallery, tell a story of replacement and transformation through destruction. Flânerie, an art of aimless ambling around in a city and taking in the metropolitan spectacle, is perhaps the best-suited mode of artistic practice to witness the often violent processes of urban developments. The term originated amidst the large-scale demolition of medieval Paris to make room for the modern city that we know today. In her daily practice of wandering around the city, Taszycka invokes the figure of the flâneuse as she seeks out pieces of debris that are capable of bearing witness to both granular and systemic histories of urban change.

The reclaimed objects—nearly always parts ripped out of a demolished whole—hold memories of their mishandling, are scarred by wear and tear, and in their damaged state become synonymous with scrap. Taszycka’s practice of appropriation is not limited to the realm of readymade but extends out into the original gesture of the user’s discarding. The found objects function here as a mirror in which one can see what the society does not want to look at anymore. Through strategic decontextualization and staging, Taszycka dresses this found refuse in the Minimalist fashion, underscoring the implicit relationship of dependence between aesthetic form and value. A stained plasterboard panel turned painting serves as Taszycka’s humorous commentary on art’s uneasy status as a commodity and a site of scopophilic pleasure.

By emphasizing the layer of sediment accumulated on the objects, the artist draws a comparison between dirt and the old socioeconomic structure, here invoked through the architectural elements, suggesting that both things are subject to similar social strategies of eradication and suppression. Dirt and cities share a geological pattern of additive, stratified growth, a quality that in Taszycka’s practice is utilized as a natural record of histories of cultural and economic changes. But dirt is so much more than just a clump of matter. In Jeanne Dunning’s words, the formless, abject dirt is “anything that is where it shouldn’t be.” a stubborn substance that defies social and cultural order.

The artworks in Dirt enact a similar “out-of-placeness” as they resurrect what has been deemed devoid of worth and therefore taken out of sight. By salvaging debris and transforming it into an artwork, Taszycka misplaces things destined for oblivion and brings into question the notions of order, progress, and value.

Julia Taszycka (b. 1992, Poznań, PL) is a conceptual artist known for her work in objects, art installations, and videos. She earned both her Bachelor’s and Master of Fine Arts degrees in Intermedia from Poznan Art University. In 2022, she furthered her studies as a Fulbright scholar, obtaining an MFA degree in Studio Arts at Hunter College.

Taszycka’s artistic contributions have been showcased in various solo and two-person exhibitions, including those at M 2 3, New York, NY (2023); 35A Gallery, Warsaw, PL (2022); Stroboskop Art Space, Warsaw, PL (2020); and Skala Gallery, Poznań, PL (2017). Additionally, her work has been featured in group exhibitions at White Columns (online), New York, NY (2023), Bibeau Krueger, New York, NY (2022); Lokal 30, Warsaw, PL (2019); Arsenal Municipal Gallery, Poznań, PL (2020); National Museum, Wrocław, PL (2015), among others.

Taszycka served as an Artist in Residence at the Manhattan Cultural Council at Governors Island, NY, in 2022. She is a finalist for the 2023 Hopper Art Prize and has received a nomination for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, NY (2023).

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