Sept. 3 – Oct. 12, 2003

LUDWIKA OGORZELEC
My Eye Level, Space Crystallizations Cycle,
Williams Center Art Gallery, Easton, Pa., 2003

Polish artist Ludwika Ogorzelec used bamboo poles and about 10 miles of stretch wrap to create My Eye Level, Space Crystallizations Cycle, Williams Center Art Gallery, Easton, Pa., 2003, a site-specific installation which took three weeks to create.Visitors watched her progress in the Williams Center gallery and lobby as Ogorzelec produced individual components of bamboo and stretch wrap which filled the gallery, and spilled out into the lobby. During the second week she was assisted by Easton artist Koenraad Van Linden Tol who helped to suspend the pieces from the gallery ceiling. Ogorzelec then joined the separate pieces, connecting and interlacing with strips of stretch wrap, creating a single work in the gallery, which began at her eye level and rose to the ceiling. She then extended the piece into the Williams Center lobby and continued outside. On the last day of installation, Space Crystallizations could not be contained in the gallery, and extended out an upper window onto the gallery roof.My Eye Level is the most recent installation in her Space Crystallizations Cycle, which she began in the early 1990s. Each is a site-specific work. She has said that her primary material is “space and air,” and she uses “a system of lines intersecting one another with a certain order and modifying the previously determined space both physically and in its use. In other words, it is a shattering of space into smaller components—crystals—to achieve a new aesthetic and psychological state that acts on the conscious and subconscious mind of the observer.”

The low clearance of the installation requires an atypical relationship between the visitor and the artwork.Most visitors bend at the waist when entering the gallery and walk in this awkward position until finding a spot to stand upright. Most adults stand with part of their head, and possibly part of their upper body in between strips of sturdy stretch wrap. A different perspective can be found by lying down on the floor and looking up into the intricate pattern created by light and plastic.

A visitor in the gallery “experiences the necessity of adjusting to the spatial situation, producing motions of the body (bending, ducking or stepping around) which is a form of dance, and simultaneously experiences states that go beyond the boundaries of quotidian stereotypes, behavioral codes, and habits,” says Ogorzelec. “The activity is a result of the meeting of the ‘intrinsic energy’ and the ‘extrinsic energy’ imparted by line to the space.”

“The intrinsic energy is everything that is characteristic of a given space—the width, height, length, the materials of which it is composed (concrete, metal, wood, plaster etc.); its function (office building, church, a city square, landscape)—and is the way that it is commonly experienced by the observer.”

“In my work line speaks with the qualities of the material from which the work is made; the picture which it creates (various ordering and, geometry, chaos, concentrations, shattering, rhythms, contrasts, similarities, the relationship between filled and not-filled space); and the shape of line (simple, wavy, vertical or inclined). This is what I refer to as the extrinsic energy.”

Previous installations have been composed of wood, glass, rusted metal, or fabric. Each has unique characteristics. Wood is light in weight, warm, with light hues, created by nature and “touches the aesthetic sense of observer.” Rusted metal, a manmade material, on the other hand, is cold, heavy, dark in color and is “anti-aesthetic.” Glass is cold and heavy but clear in contact with light, and sometimes, even, not visible. Glass satisfies the aesthetic sense but is unsettling due to its fragility and sharp fragments.

Recently the artist has started working with stretch wrap to explore the effects of natural and artificial light. The lobby and outdoor sections of My Eye Level, Space Crystallizations Cylce at the Williams Center change during the day with the shifting position of the sun. Without direct sunlight, the stretch wrap appears a solid white, but in the sunlight the stretch wrap is clear, reflecting light, sometimes glistening with blue highlights, not unlike ice on tree branches. Although the gallery interior is lit primarily with artificial light, there is ambient light from the lobby and natural light from a small window in the gallery that creates subtle changes during the day and evening.

Born in Poland in 1953, Ogorzelec earned a master’s in sculpture while studying from 1978-83 at the Leon Podsiadly Studio of the Fine Arts Academy in Wroclaw, Poland. She has lived and worked in Paris since 1985, studying at the Cesar Studio of the National Fine Arts School in Paris from 1985-87. Her work has been featured in one-person shows in Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Lebanon, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It also has been included in group shows in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Poland, and the United States. Ogorzelec’s art also is represented in collections based in six different countries. She has received two arts grants and led arts programs internationally as well.

The artist would like to thank Koenraad Van Linden Tol for his invaluable assistance during the installation.

The Williams Center gallery is funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.