Black Mirror
Black Mirror

Alek Janicki
performance, installation, 2023

The opening of the installation is accompanied by a performance by Alek Janicki, armed with cameras, night vision goggles, and microphones, roaming the space of the abandoned Svirz castle in Ukraine

An installation within the framework of the hybrid exhibition TRANS/IT/US, running simultaneously in 3 locations: the Svirz Castle near Lviv in Ukraine, the WRO Art Center in Wrocław, and the APTEKA Janicki Gallery in Krakow.

Black Mirror is an audio-visual site-specific multisensory installation presented in the desolate spaces of Svirz Castle in war-torn Ukraine. The historic castle barn creates a context and at the same time becomes part of the installation. Its essential element is a steel mirror. The surface of the mirror, suspended in a representative but decaying chamber, is covered with a graphic depicting clouds of black smoke – the effect of an explosion; the faces of the viewers and surrounding objects are also reflected in its glossy black depths. From the loudspeaker come the statements of refugees recorded at the railway station in Krakow, during the first days of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, by Ukrainian volunteer, artist, and musician Andrey Sachev. The positioning of the directional speaker above the surface of the mirror forces the viewer to move closer to the black image and leads them to see their reflection.

The audience is also surrounded by ‘peripheral’ sound, emanating from a number of loudspeakers located in other areas of the castle, the halls, and corridors leading to the main chamber. The simultaneous emission of sounds creates a palimpsest, completing the entire work: excerpts of statements of people who found safe refuge in Poland are heard as near and far echoes, combining with elements of concrete music, footsteps, creaks of doors, stairs, and noises, creating together with them an audio-sphere generated by the historic spaces and spreading throughout the castle. The collage of recorded statements, reports, and conversations conducted among victims of Russian aggression living in Poland for a year is the result of the work of the artist’s collaborators from the AYA Found Foundation.

Black Mirror is part of an exhibition by Alek Janicki and friends from Ukraine entitled TRANS/IT/US created in collaboration with the National Union of Architects of Ukraine, which hosts the historic building. The association aims to revitalize the building, which is being assisted by the Polish foundation AYA Found under an international cooperation agreement. Participants in the exhibition are the Malopolska Chamber of Architects of the Republic of Poland, the SARP, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, as well as the In Corpore Foundation.

interviews: Vira Prypasnyk, Nastya Karachun, Evgenia Sadykova and Dania, Svetlana Pastukh, Andrii Sacheva
musical arrangement: Maria Janicka-Kordasz
sound: Jacek Krok, Jacek Pilch

Aleksander Janicki – a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, creator of media installations, paratheatrical actions, and performer. He uses interactive and generative systems, VR and AR, video, and communication media. His work has been presented, among others, in Münster, Kassel, Venice, Berlin, and Frankfurt am. Main, Krakow, Nuremberg, Warsaw and Wrocław. He has realized and exhibited many of his works in Japan. He collaborates with composers of contemporary music: Krzysztof Knittel, Tadeusz Wielecki, Shioi Yabuta, and others. He performs with the formations HiQ and Big Data Generation, which he has established. He is also a creator of theatre set designs and a director of performances based on mapping, large-format projections, and social interaction. He has created innovative architectural projects awarded with prestigious prizes, including the interactive building of the KTO Theatre, the Dojo Centre in Stara Wieś, the Nicolaus Copernicus Museum in Toruń, and the Museum in Wieliczka. His most recent initiatives include the establishment of the Culture Futura Biennale in Krakow (2023), support for Ukrainian artists, and the organization of the TRANS/IT/US hybrid exhibition.