A grater, a funnel, a pot, a corkscrew… What we know is not what we remember. What we remember may have never happened. The latest project by Weronika Gęsicka is a case study dealing with memories and their manipulations as elements that constitute our identity. The title of the exhibition refers to the common belief that it is possible to recall our moment of birth. However, it is completely impossible from a scientific point of view. The experience we remember is only a trace of a strong emotion recorded in our amygdala, which we try to make more concrete with images. This quality of our brain raises a question about how real our memories are, and it is responsible for the distortions and inaccuracies in our memory. In our memory, which is unstable and susceptible to suggestions and distortions, memories and past snapshots overlap like impulses on an old VHS tape. In the process of recalling, most of us use images, which can nowadays be easily manipulated. In addition, we rely on imagination to fill the holes in the events that we poorly remember. In this way a specific memory glitch is created, either by ourselves or someone else. The exhibition mainly consists of ordinary and domestic objects – mostly kitchen tools, which are actually only reminiscences; through modification and enlargement they become the mockups of our deformed memory. Deformed by memory, they can be read in a completely different way. The affiliation of these objects with the kitchen also evokes stereotypical social roles. ’This is my kingdom‘ our mothers used to say about the kitchen. Surrounded by objects, utensils and tools whose purpose only they knew, women seemed confined to the world imposed on them. In a sense, objects make us real; they allow us to be what we are through the power of habit. This image of women, established in American advertising photography of the 1950s, is something Gęsicka drew from in her previous project, Traces. For a memory to be available for a long time, it must be associated with emotions. In this way, emotion fixes what we remember, but at the same time its intensity deforms the remembered image. A specific property of our mind is the tendency to add symbolism or personal mythology to most of the things we remember. We all know what a table is in the theoretical sense, but for each of us it is something different from the point of view of emotions and events that the object evokes. It can be a memory of warmth, or coercion and control. Such an emotionally deformed object determines the ways in which we function in the world. Due to the specific arrangement of space at the exhibition, reminiscent of ethnographic expositions, the subjective and emotional sense of an object is converted into empirical factuality. Therefore we perceive the objects as artifacts of past events, as if they were traces of a true story. Their unbearable materiality hurts. Their purpose remains unclear. However, it is hard to resist the impression that the objects we are watching and whose source we perfectly recognize become tools of oppression, and the Polish term used to describe them (literally: ’items of everyday use‘) somewhat increases discomfort. The question of who they are intended for remains open, although I feel intuitively that it affects both women and men. In I remember my birth Gęsicka uses psychoanalysis, scientific theories and personal mythology, balancing between truth and falseness, seriousness and grotesque and irony, to reveal the moment of realizing the sources of our personality. The main character of the exhibition, a little girl, decreases and increases in size just like Alice in Wonderland to change her view of the world and her place in it.

Przemek Sowiński