The exhibition consists of four video installations.
The first one, a three-channel screening, features the footage shot at the site of archeological excavations in Karahan Tepe, Turkey, where the oldest human place of worship was discovered. Dating back to 10 thousand years BC, it is believed to be the cradle of civilization. The site features a setting of oval structures made of adhering megalithic pillars, built before the Neolithic Revolution and the beginning of agriculture and animal breeding. It is a mystery what community managed to construct the complex. The identity and motivation of the people who buried the sanctuary 1500 years later remain unknown as well.
The artist examines a number of theories about the origins of this extraordinary place. He compares the travel into such distant past with Mars exploration missions and makes reference to Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, in which the narrative is told by three characters: the Writer (man of arts), the Professor (man of science) and the Stalker symbolising spirituality. In Czerepok’s film, these three perspectives are embodied by three robots: Mars rovers called Red, Next and Stalker, respectively.
The second work, a four-channel video, tells the story of the post-industrial cable car system in the Georgian town of Chiatura. Originally developed to serve the employees of the nearby mines, it had been operating without interruptions since 1953. 60 years later, it remained the most convenient and fastest public transportation systems for the local commuters. Since it was fare free, the network served as an example of a civic undertaking. The artist had managed to complete the project just before the network was modernized in the autumn of 2016.
The third work is a para-documentary about DNA testing of the first Piasts. It presents a hypothesis of their foreign origin that was first put forward in the 19th century. One of its initial supporters was Karol Szajnoch. In 1858, he came up with a thesis according to which Scandinavians immigrants called Lachs came to the Polish land in the 6th century. Another version of the theory was proposed in 1918 by two German historians, Lambert Schulte and Robert Holtzmann. They referred to the document entitled Dagome iudex, according to which Mieszko I put the territory of Poland under papal protection. The scholars linked the first historical king of Poland, referred to as Dagome in the document, with the Danish chief Dago, who had conquered the lands along the Warta river around 960. For the last two years, the mysterious origins of Mieszko I and the Piast dynasty have been the subject of a research project carried out by the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań.
The last video featured in the exhibition, Lux Aeterna, is a film of captivating beauty and illusionary tranquility. Its visual layer makes reference to romantic painting, while the verbal one combines statements from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Adolf Hitler, Ted Kaczynski (American domestic terrorist) and the manifesto of Anders Breivik, with excerpts from Juliusz Słowacki’s Kordian. It is no coincidence the film was shot in Norway at the time when Breivik perpetrated his massacre, listening to the sounds of Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell. Czerepok’s film is perverse, but it raises our awareness of how easily we can align ourselves with the ideas and attitudes we are fundamentally opposed to and we fight against. It reflects upon how we can lose our vigilance, succumb to a delusion and believe in beautiful words.
The works combine fiction with science, they propose multiple hypotheses and theories, broadening our view of the complex and ambiguous reality and leaving the question of the origins of our civilization open.
Hubert Czerepok — visual artist, author of installations, photographs, objects and films. He examines anomalies, the strange and uncontrolled things. He analyses the constructs determining human behavior and tracks conspiracy theories and paranormal phenomena, trying to figure out the rules of the Great Conspiracy. His works combine history with utopia. With an exceptional erudition and sense of humour, Czerepok balances on the edge of ironic distance and authentic engagement.
He was born in 1973 in Słubice. In 1999, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, receiving the diploma in the studios of Izabella Gustowska and Jan Berdyszak. Between 2002 and 2003, he completed postgraduate studies at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, and in 2004–2005 – at the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp. Assistant (2006-2009) and assistant professor (2009-2013) at the Studio of Video at the Poznań University of Art. Currently, he is an associate professor at the Department of Painting and New Media of the Academy of Art in Szczecin and the manager of the Experimental Film Laboratory.
He has participated in numerous solo and group shows, including: History and Utopia, Arsenał Gallery in Białystok, 2013; Lux Aeterna, Żak/Branicka gallery, Berlin, 2012; Devil’s Island, La Criée Centre d’Art Contemporain, Rennes, 2009; Cultural Transference, EFA Project Space, The Elizabeth Foundation for The Art, New York, 2012; Houses as Silver as Tents, Zachęta — National Gallery of Arts, Warsaw, 2013; Regress/Progress, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw. He runs artistic workshops for children and teenagers based around the issues of articulation of freedom and deconstruction of stereotypes (ŁAŹNIA Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdańsk, Arsenal Gallery in Białystok, the Center for Political Criticism in Cieszyn).
The exhibition is a collaboration with Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, the City of Białystok, the Arsenal Gallery in Białystok, Białystok University of Technology and the Academy of Art in Szczecin.