At Postmasters, Ada Karczmarczyk Goes Radically Churchy

THE DAILY PIC: A Polish artist finds God in slacker videos.


THE DAILY PIC (#1341): One day last week, I went to see the Tom of Finland show at Artists Space in New York, full of 14-inch erections misbehaving en masse. No problem for this veteran art critic.

Later, at Postmasters gallery, I came across something really challenging: A suite of videos that seemed, just possibly, to be buying into Catholic beliefs. I squirmed as I watched and still can’t quite believe what I saw.

The videos were by the young Polish artist Ada Karczmarczyk, and they had the stylings and affect of the slacker works of Ryan Trecartin, crossed with the sounds and pacing of 1980s MTV.

The first few videos, showing Karczmarczyk bopping her way through life, also seemed to have the art world’s standard dose of irony and anomie. It was the more recent ones that followed, with titles like “High Mass”, “Get Hyped on Mary” and “Sacred Heart”, that threw me for a loop. Without changing her bratty, juvenile style, the artist seemed to be injecting her videos with a genuine dose of Catholicism. Despite the club-land look and feel of her videos, she seemed to really be suggesting that we entrust our lives to Mary, that we embrace the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even that we keep thoughts of saved fetuses in our hearts as we gyrate to electropop. (Click on my image for a clip.)

There’s no way to know if Karczmarczyk’s “Holy Awakening”, as she calls it, is honest or a clever artistic device. As an evangelical atheist, I truly hope it’s the latter, since I believe the world is best off with as little religion as possible. As an art critic, however, I am deeply intrigued – even impressed – by this young artist’s unlikely, maybe impossible attempt to cross heartfelt belief with properly messed-up contemporary art.

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