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The Colander II Reference Image

Józef Robakowski

Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu

Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu
Toruń, Poland

The black-and-white photograph shows a kitchen colander. The photographed object fills almost entirely the surface of the picture. It is lopping freely on a dark, neutral background, with the sieve down and visible chips of paint and rust. In the upper part of the handle, in the centre of the axis, near the upper edge of the picture, at the place of a hole for hanging, there is a large nail hammered into the photograph, sticking 16 cm out from the surface. In addition, the whole piece is glued to fibreboard, which in turn gives the effect of showing a colander photograph nailed to a board.
The work of Józef Robakowski The Colander II dates from the early period of the artist's creativity associated with the ZERO-61 photographic group from Toruń (1961–1969). The first version of the colander came into being in 1961, as the first photo-object of the artist. Even then, at the very beginning of ZERO-61 activity, in the area of Robakowski’s interests a desire to combine photographs and real objects crept in. Thus, the artist challenged and exceeded the actuality, which by definition was carried by the photography. [P. Lisowski]

The black-and-white photograph shows a kitchen colander. The photographed object fills almost entirely the surface of the picture. It is lopping freely on a dark, neutral background, with the sieve down and visible chips of paint and rust. In the upper part of the handle, in the centre of the axis, near the upper edge of the picture, at the place of a hole for hanging, there is a large nail hammered into the photograph, sticking 16 cm out from the surface. In addition, the whole piece is glued to fibreboard, which in turn gives the effect of showing a colander photograph nailed to a board.
The work of Józef Robakowski The Colander II dates from the early period of the artist's creativity associated with the ZERO-61 photographic group from Toruń (1961–1969). The first version of the colander came into being in 1961, as the first photo-object of the artist. Even then, at the very beginning of ZERO-61 activity, in the area of Robakowski’s interests a desire to combine photographs and real objects crept in. Thus, the artist challenged and exceeded the actuality, which by definition was carried by the photography.
The Colander II is one of the artist's first major gestures, important also from the perspective of shaping the artistic and aesthetic awareness of Robakowski. It was then that his passion for contrariness and manipulation, searching for and collecting the tangible evidence of reality, was born. Robakowski begins to look for the absurd and game factors in art, but also for what affects a man in the physical sense, as well as for what can move out of balance and blow up the mechanisms established in the arts. To some extent, this is also a quest for the Dadaist tradition, absent in Polish art, which fascinated Robakowski. The colander has become synonymous for the artist’s actions during the period of activity in Toruń, illustrating an important issue for the artist of exploring the relationship between the real world and the simulacrum. There comes an opposition to the objectification of vision of the world and challenging the reality which is shown by photography as objectively given. Another important type of game of Dadaist provenance, from this period of Robakowski’s creativity, was created by the figure of Józef Korbiela – a painter, photographer, and the logistics manager in the Communal Cooperative in Lipno. He was a fictional member of the Zero-61 group, and with his name the artists signed the most “risky”, unsuccessful works or those arousing controversy. The colander in its first version was just ascribed to Korbiela, who participated in the exhibitions and life of Zero-61, enigmatically disappearing right before the vernissage.
In the works of Robakowski from the 60s there is, on the one hand, a metaphoric of representations so characteristic of the Zero-61 group, on the other hand, the striving for certain analytical processes designed to examine the specificity of photographic language. These trends accumulated over time, setting the subsequent way of explorations. Already in the case of works dating back to the late 60s, there is an attempt to undertake the purely mechanical and formal study of the photographic medium. [P. Lisowski]

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