Kolejny rok w urnie (Another Year in the Urn) is the exhibition from the cult music band Nagrobki (The Tombstones), a duo of visual artists and musicians Maciej Salamon and Adam Witkowski.
The show focuses on the visual aspect of the band’s oeuvre, obsessive references to the topic of death, contemporary vanitas and thanatophobic-funeral design. The works featured in the exhibition: videos, sculptures, posters, album covers, T-shirts and other objects, are not merely an addition to the musical output of the band: they are arranged into a new narration-installation of a cemetery, showing intentional correlations between the works and emphasizing the paradoxical vitality of death.
The band occasionally used the term necro-polo in relation to their artistic activities. However, the art of Nagrobki escapes the convention of cabaret. As Francis Picabia once wrote in Cannibalistic Manifesto, “Death is a serious thing”.
Black humour, which Nagrobki heavily rely on, does indeed have a powerful existential background, and their Dadaist low budget DIY strategy reveals the fragility and contingency of fate. Adam Witkowski said in one of his interviews: “I think everything here is said without sarcasm. However, the simplicity of the words we use does give an impression of irony. Avoiding the theme of death is both the irony of fate and a characteristic feature of the contemporary Western culture.”
Is it worth imposing the perspective of death on life? On the other hand, is it possible not to apply such perspective if you have already begun doing so? Reflection on death – a fundamental thought that seizes other perspectives – cannot be stopped. Mortality salience never leaves the thinking individual, deeming their future life senseless or leading to the acceptance of the inevitable (amor fati). As Socrates allegedly said: “Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death” (Plato, Phaedo).
Stanisław Ruksza, curator of the exhibition
The exhibition is co-produced with CSW Kronika in Bytom.