Agnieszka Kurant's works stem from her interest in exceeding human logic and the existence of elements of the future in the present. Oscillating between visibility and invisibility, truth and lies, past and future, magic and everyday news, her pieces prove how something invisible can also become political and how un-existing objects can influence reality even more than existing ones. Kurant's works are often based on collaborations with various professionals in unusual realms from a clairvoyant to a president of a society of speaking birds (to teach a live parrot to say 'I'm not a bird'), to inventors and scientists, to journalists. How can that which is beyond the present, beyond knowledge be present and known? Certainly not in the terms of the present. What flows in the current order is both capital and time and Kurant draws upon the moments in which the order of the two is disrupted.
'FutureAnterior' is a version of New YorkTimes from the year 2020. The artist worked with a pro- fessional world famous clairvoyant, Krzysztof Jackowski who collaborates regularly with Interpol, police' and governments of many countries and is considered as a reliable source of information in criminal investigations, searches for missing people, as well as in constructing prognosis for businessman and politicians of different nationalities. His forecasts of what will happen in and around 2020 were developed into an issue of New YorkTimes with articles written by several NYTjournalists and other ghostwriters. The newspaper has all the parameters of NYTfrom a bar code to advertisements bought by existing companies. It is however printed with disappearing paint which becomes invisible in different temperatures and comes back to black color when it is cooled down. As a result the newspaper appears and disappears depending on the weather con- ditions and the temperature of the room but the color disappears instantly when it is touched by human hands which warm up the paper. The future reveals itself only for short moments, since it's impossible to read the whole newspaper before the text vanishes in our hands. What we are left with are the memories from the short fragments we read and remembered, which may be sometimes far from the original news. The future is brought to us precariously and in fragments and has to be filled in with missing information. Just like most sci-fi novels are based on our reali- ty, with only certain parameters changed, we are also incapable of imagining some country or lan- guage exceeding the logic of human languages and civilization - with our obsession with the future telling us more about our times than about what may happen later.
Hypotetical Value is a '3 in 1' painting which changes its author depending on the weather condi- tions. Wilhelm Sasnal's 'The Cut Through Canvas' is visible only in the sunlight and the piece 'Magic Drawing' by Gianni Motti is only visible in colder temperatures, below 18 degrees. Kurant's conceptual exhibition within one frame, is completed by her own inscription on the paper with dis- appearing ink which vanished a few seconds after the completion of the work.
To create 'Political Weather' Kurant hired a special effects company working for feature films to create a special effect for a future sci-fi movie to come - black snow falling in the gallery, operated with remote control. Inspired by the activity once common in USSR - influencing the weather (using cloud busters etc.) to ensure sunshine for the communist parades, but also practiced cur- rently in contemporary China forced by the Olympic Games committee to clear the sky over Beijing from pollution which results in the Chinese causing artificial rains and snow fall which are often black. The black snow - both cartoonish and scary merging the prop and aesthetic originat- ing from a horror movie with the beauty of the natural phenomenon. Hovering between fiction and reality the work offers also alternative ways of ownership - instead of being for sale it can be hired for a duration of 1 month or longer.
'Language is a Virus from Outer Space' is a crystal plate with an engraved message of the 'Wow signal' - the only message received on Earth from outer space. The message was received by a radio telescope 'Big Ear' in Ohio in 1978. Since then the signal was examined an innumerous number of times by many scientists, who do not either confirm or deny that the signal was sent by some other civilization. All accidental sources of the signal (star explosions, waves coming from Earth etc.) have been excluded. The are only two possible sources of the signal. Firstly that the signal comes from another civilization who most probably do not even exist any more, since it takes such a long time for the radio signal to move through space. By 1978 the possible senders of the message or their civilization presumably don't even exist. The second possible source of the signal would be that the message was sent from Earth and encountered some planet or an object and was reflected., and returned to Earth, distorted to such an extent that we no longer recognize it. It would seem there was a mirror placed on a far away planet which would send us reflections of ourselves which we wouldn't be able to recognize. Since the signal has never been repeated the researchers cannot confirm the results, so from the point of view of science the sig- nal is almost useless and cannot be considered as true evidence of anything which is specific to the logic of science. For 30 years now the message of the signal is still a code we cannot break or decipher. The day when the signal was received the scientist working in the laboratory shouted 'Wow' when he saw it and circled his amazing discovery on the signal print out. Since then the message is always reproduced together with the word 'wow' written on the paper print from the Ohio laboratory. The 'Wow' became part of this message and the message's content still remains a secret to us, even if it was us who had sent it.
'Tesla Symphony' is a result of Kurant's collaboration with Polish experimental composer Zbigniew Karkowski. Kurant invited Karkowski to write an inaudible piece of music based solely on infra sounds, which humans cannot hear. Infra sounds were once considered and researched as a future possible weapon. Although we cannot hear infra sounds, they can influence our mood and behavior, cause physical pain and nausea or make us feel relaxed and comfortable. Nicola Tesla, a maverick scientist who discovered the radio (before Marconi) as well as the magnetic field and 'Tesla coils' was famous for his experiments with radio waves and was said to send messages to other planets. He also experimented with infra sounds and at one time made an offer to the US government of constructing a protecting wall of waves and to use these infra sounds as weapons. However in his times these ideas were considered to be science fiction and Tesla was not treated seriously when it came to these experiments. He was said to have constructed in his laboratory a system producing infra sounds which made people standing nearby feel extremely good. The sounds had an almost addictive power, like a prototype of a future non-chemical drug. 'Tesla Symphony' sonogram is the score of Karkowski and Kurant's inaudible composition broadcasted in the gallery as the soundtrack of the show.
'Plutonium MacGuffin' is a plinth of a statue. It makes a reference to the plinth of the monument of Charles Fourier from Boulevard de Clichy in Paris. The bronze statue of the author of the concept of socialist utopia was stolen during the Second World War and recycled into bullets and fired at the people. However the empty plinth remained and is still standing in Paris. This empty plinth was an object of interest for The International Situationists in 1968 but has since then, been almost forgotten. Kurant's variation/replica of the plinth serves to hold an invisible sculpture - a crossover of Hitchcock's inexistent plot device (MacGuffin) and Plutonium - an element of matter which no longer exists on Earth in natural form. The plinth is made of an artificial stone - Corian - which is scientifically man-made, an invented substance which will slowly become more popular in our households, while currently it's associated with a rich bourgeois kitchen aesthetic.Unlike any other imitations, Corian, despite being an artificial stone, is much more expensive as a mate- rial. It has specific properties that stones do not have, for example it's warmer and it does not absorb water. 'Plutonium MacGuffin' is therefore a sculpture where we only see the plinth and which itself remains invisible. Giorgio Agamben talks about the similarities in power structures between early Christianity and late capitalism. One of the central ideas of the 'fathers of the church' from the first centuries AD was the existence of an imaginary empty throne which had to be prepared and 'ornated' for the future, for the Glory descending on Earth. This empty throne became a common motif of early Christian depictions and paintings.Acentral empty throne, an absent element and a void was a perfect model to organize power around it. The power came from the invisible. In late capitalism power is almost impossible to localize and retrace. Who in fact is responsible for a factory worker loosing his job in Poland? AretiredAmerican millionaire living in Florida and suddenly deciding to move his money to another bank or to invest into anoth- er comany's shares on the stock market or a Tsunami in Asia causing changes in global econo- my. The immaterialisation of power is accompanied by the immaterialisation of labour and can be seen e.g. through the basis of the U.S' national income from foreign trade, which are not visible products but mostly copyrights and patents. The desires of people are easier to control when the object of desire becomes invisible.
Before We Learned to Change the Past - a palimpsest painting where the viewers are invited to write over it again and again with a pen supplied below. The writing and drawings instantly disap- pear. Palimpsest is a manuscript page, whether from scroll or book that has been written on, scraped off, and used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin from Greek and meant "scraped again." In Kurant's work the paper, just like parchment in the first ages AD palimpsests, is reused incessantly since whatever is written on it vanishes within a few seconds and the paper remains a visual tabula rasa, a blank monochrome.
'Ruins of Recent Future' - a night cityscape of a future phantom metropolis which never ends tak- ing the shape of a tv - which traditionally tries to 'bring us the future already now'. What we see is therefore an image of an image of a city that doesn't exist.
'TimeAfterTime' consists of two covers of the December issue of Time magazine which each year depicts the 'Person of the Year'. The December 2006 issue had mirror foil where we could only see our own face. Here the viewers find themselves between two Time magazine pages, in anAlice-in Wonderland-like corridor of endless reflections, a time travel machine from the past to the future.