Katarzyna Krakowiak: The secret life of melted Air
Arsenal Gallery, Poznań
The project refers to the sick building syndrome (SBS), which encompasses several physical ailments, including fatigue, malaise, occurring in a specific building, which however do not form any recognized disease classification entity. SBS is usually caused by incorrect air circulation, in which air is passed inside a closed ventilation piping system and settles, condensed, on building walls, creating a nurturing environment for fungi and other microorganisms. The phenomenon usually occurs in tall office buildings, where bottom-to-top air circulation assumes slow, gradual air passage through a series of stories, tens of floors and ceilings, tight office spaces. These are hundreds of spoken words, scents, and the body heat of the office workers, all settling in the system concealed behind suspended ceilings, ventilation ducts and walls, nearly literally merging with the architecture of the building. The decaying air structure presses against the interior and successively bursts the stable physical structure. SDS thus provides the premises for perceiving architecture through the physicality of the people occupying it and their behaviors.
Krakowiak decided to deconstruct the suspended metal structure located in the upper gallery room and forming a quasi-openwork ceiling, covered with a three-pitched roof with numerous skylights. The roof, and partially the façade of the building are a reference to the traditional Old Market Square development with the gallery in the center. We should point that the Arsenal building was created as the result of a compromise of two architectural visions: modernist forms proposed by Jan Cieśliński and a historicizing design by Zbigniew Zieliński. According to an initial design, the building was intended for a department store, hence the indoor ornament in the form of metal frame, which was originally designated for utilitarian purposes. Krakowiak’s intervention was based on demounting the structure in such a manner that the viewer has a sense of spontaneous detachment. The three-and-a-half-ton ceiling spiderweb was lying on the floor on one of its sides. The installation was accompanies by subtle sound generated by special electronic units and simulating the echo of a damaged mechanism, a short circuit, followed by silence.