Previous projects of Grzegorz Drozd directly focused on various forms of institutional critique, mechanism of power or interaction with public space. His means of communication include performances, airplanes scattering prisoners’ letters, figural paintings with political motives, vinyls, video or text. Drozd likes to reflect upon the position of artist as an intruder, outcast, manipulator or even a criminal. He sometimes explores actual cases of social exclusion. With an interest in hierarchical relationships of the art world, he also examines his own reflection in the mirror.
In reaction to the situation of contemporary culture and the hectic lifestyle of Europeans, Drozd leaves the old continent and, on his travels in Asia, searches for a more authentic approach to an art object. Even though he is critical about participative and performative tendencies that intentionally avoid materiality and objecthood, in a similar way, he looks for strategies to deal with or even overcome the detached and unconcerned approach of a gallery spectator. Drozd, however, seems to be an anti-modernist, who is attentive to tradition, the power of mythical thinking to which modern man is a stranger.
On one of the islands of Philippines he comes across a village called Marikaban, the inhabitants of which believe in the magic power of hand-made objects. Artifacts created in this atmosphere are then moved to be installed in a gallery as art objects. Is it possible for them to still keep their magical power? The latter, moreover, is not only aimed at spectators but also, with a taint of (self-)irony, at the authorities of the art world.
Key for the whole project are Aswang figures of Philippine folklore, magicians in charge of evil powers. They are not easy to identify as no set of characteristics can be applied (even if, so it is claimed, Aswangs are mostly women). Aswangs are mythical characters thought to cause crime, diseases, catastrophes and other inexplicable phenomena. The stories about Aswangs also have a didactic value and are told to children. It is noteworthy that also doctors, engineers and other representatives of Western civilization and knowledge, impossible to access for some and intentionally avoided by others, can be considered as Aswangs. In this folkloric image, a contemporary artist meets the traditional figure of a manipulator of supernatural powers, social outsider, scapegoat and the root of all that is dangerous to the peace of the community.
Radim Langer, Tereza Stejskalová