Filmoteka Muzeum

Jan Świdziński presents a range of objects, souvenirs of sorts, something we all know from seaside stalls – gadgets that are completely useless in daily life and mainly serve entertainment and practical jokes. The artist does not say much, he merely declares: “Ca marche” and “Ca marche pas”, which translates as “It works” and “It doesn’t work”. One after another, he produces a jumping spider with a pump, a ceramic swan, a wind-up penis on little legs, a matchbox with a kitten from which a white and a black mouse appear, a glass that appears to be full yet whose contents do not spill outside. Finally, he takes out strips that bear reference to the Möbius strip, which is a concept of an unorientable object with an edge, considered as a prototype of the infinity symbol. Having presented all the items, the artist packs them into purpose-prepared boxes wrapped in colour paper. He finishes by stating in French: “the problem in life, and in ... for so many years it works, for so many years it doesn’t”.

Świdziński’s piece offers a commentary on the advent of free market economy and consumer culture in Poland. The artist takes interest in the very early days of the capitalist overproduction of objects and meanings, and the ensuing difficulties in judging what is useful and what is not; what matters and what mainly causes confusion. Świdziński plays with, celebrates, and tests the “attractive” objects that seek to offer joy; objects which quickly lose the interest of their owners and quickly fall into disrepair.


Year: 1990
Duration: 2'49"
Language: Polish
Source: VHS

© Irena Teresa Psarska-Świdzińska, Natalia Świdzińska