/ Reunification of the Motherland


The afterlife of a Stock photo is increasingly taking place in sales brochures from last year, the ones that were printed in twenty thousand copies and stored in boxes on floor minus four. What if the afterlife of a Stock photo was a spiritual reunification with its suggested origin, placing it back to the environment that it had the ambition to depict?

For his first solo exhibition in London, South Kiosk presents London-based artist Franek Wardyński’s intriguing intervention between rendered and real landscapes. The project embraces conventions of images employed in stock-footage, establishing the notion of natural looking imitations installed in actual locations. Reunification of the Motherland (2018) explores the particular moment of truth when a fake forest is reunited with a real one.

The short film and photographic series portray a stock footage banner forest on its pilgrimage back to reality. The artworks deal with the issue of life as a journey, recognition and the struggle of self. For Wardyński ‘It is about liberating the forest montage, a bit like when you buy a turtle in the market and let it go because you want it to be free.’

A middle-aged man is looking at the banner in the forest and states, un paysage dans un paysage—a landscape in a landscape. He takes his time to stop and look. Is this land art? His partner calls it bizarre or strange and wonders if it is hung to hide something. The sun is bright on this October-day in the French Alps, projecting yellow and orange leaves in the mirroring surface of the mountain lake. The banner is moving in the wind, perfectly hung along the lake sore’s walking trail. A woman passes by and calls the banner ugly; she says does not understand it. At least a hundred other people pass the banner that afternoon.

There is an evident fight for acceptance taking place, with the rendered banner trying to blend in at the site. In architect and author Carol Burn’s essay On Site (1991), she suggests that there are always two landscapes: one, which we physically perceive, and another that we mentally construct. She goes on to suggest that the most successful earthworks are those, which generates both. Burns also argues for a third landscape—a latent one—proposing a situation, an intervention that becomes a reading, dialogue and critique of existing conditions, or a recording of a social trace.
The work of Wardyński sits between art and design, repeatedly exploring projects of cultural criticism, making a constant contribution to the reading of landscapes through print, moving image and sculpture. His approach to research and methodology is investigative, resulting in critical outputs of text, reproductions, prints, collages, video and large-scale objects.

The short film and prints featured in Reunification of the Motherland show us a collective judgement of a fake forest, going on an imaginary and an actual journey to a forest. Here we see the dialogue and the truth. As in any reunification, the banner is struggling with reality, moving uneasily in the wind. However, the artist also shows us the effort of blending in, being embedded in shadows, reflecting perfectly in the water, swaying in rhythm with the other trees, no one can blame the banner for not trying.

Where did it come from? What is this? Wardyński’s work shows an online render trying to find peace in the real world—and we are secretly observing its struggle. The fact that the artist has brought the banner on several trips is beside the point. It is about letting something become what it was meant to be. Inviting people into the reading of imagined, actual and mirrored landscapes.