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21 Sep 2008

Pawel Wojtasik at Martos Gallery

Pawel Wojtasik, Autopsy, September 25th, Still from HD video, 2008

Like A Shipwreck We Die Going Into Ourselves


September 18 - November 1st, 2008

Gallery hours : Tuesday through Saturday 10 am - 6 pm


540 West 29th Street
New York, NY, 10001

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The body-interior speaks to our own mortality. Hence, the sight of these inner contours has traditionally been denied us since they are usually encountered only at the risk of enduring great pain and quite possibly death. The surgeon (even within the harshly empirical structures of western medicine) therefore enjoys a rare cultural status as mediator between the exterior and the interior worlds. The surgeon seems to share the iconic status of the artist (or the visionary) within our culture, since both are held to be in possession of a privileged gaze which is able to pass beyond common experience, through surface structures, to encounter a reserved core of reality. – Jonathan Sawday, The Body Emblazoned

Martos Gallery is pleased to present Like a Shipwreck We Die Going Into Ourselves, an exhibition of new work by Pawel Wojtasik. This will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery. For the exhibition, which takes its title from the poem Nothing but Death by Pablo Neruda, Wojtasik will address the subject matter of autopsies. The word autopsy comes from the Greek autopsia, meaning 'an eye-witnessing.' Wojtasik takes this idea of witnessing and uses it to transform our thoughts and visions of the body while it undergoes dissection.

The show consists of a video, along with still images on digital displays that slowly change over time, creating meditative moments as the viewer moves through the gallery space. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Autopsy, September 25th - a video of footage from an actual autopsy. The work transcends the usual assumptions that surround autopsies by revealing an uncommon beauty in visceral imagery. The components of the exhibition come together to open up an investigation into the complex process of which life, death and the nature of human identity are a part. The works reference the tradition, beginning in the Renaissance, of the investigation into the body's interior, most notably in the works of Vesalius, DaVinci and Rembrandt, and later in contemporary works of Stan Brakhage, Francis Bacon and Andres Serrano.

For Wojtasik, this exhibition is not merely about the body in death. Rather it is a probing into the larger process of life and death and what may lie beyond, as we go into ourselves.

Pawel Wojtasik is a video artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His works have been shown at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; and others. In the spring of 2009 Wojtasik will present a panoramic video shot in New Orleans as part of the exhibition These Days: Elegies for Modern Times at MASS MoCA, in North Adams, MA. In the fall of 2009 Wojtasik will have a solo exhibition at Galerie Maisonneuve in Paris.