Growing
Agata Wieczorek (PL)
Growing
Film -
  1. Synopsis: The main character, Ewa, is a young woman at early-stage career of a medical professional. She is taking up training in a futuristic looking Simulation Center, where she practices her skills by participating in life-like simulations, impersonating medical mannequins and role-playing. At some point, she starts losing recognition between experience and simulation. Suffering from insomnia and paranoia, she faces situation where she has to find her way to differentiate reality from fiction.

  2. Concept: Necro-politics (A. Mbembe) and bio-politics (M. Foucault, P. Preciado) describe systems of power where society is restrained by controlling biological aspects of individual lives. When the body becomes a political, it no longer stands for intimacy and autonomy but becomes exposed space of oppression. To reduce one to a body deprived of intimacy and ability, is an act of particular violence. Stress and paranoia the living in such realm provoke become the space for „Growing” that unfolds between the reality and its deep, subjective reception of the protagonist. Film’s action takes place in a Medical Simulation Center – one of actually existing healthcare practical education units. SIM Centres do not differ from any real hospital - the only artificial element is human body. Future caregivers train on automatized mannequins and props that replace human patients, repeatedly performing same actions: breathing, bleeding – and giving birth. In horror films, such as “Alien” (1979) and “Prometheus” (2012), both directed by Ridley Scott, pregnancy bears same traces: it is unexpected, incomprehensible and impossible to remove. As it grows inside human body, the sense of horror increases. It is disturbing how close individual's reality to the fiction can arrive taking as an example the recently forced anti-abortion law in Poland that force pregnant women deliver at any cost, regardless one’s will and abilities. Growing employs the motif of pregnancy and the film genre of body-horror. Alike Polanski’s “Repulsion”, character’s experience becomes psycho-somatic and suspended between fear, madness and the real as she loses recognition between simulation and real experience: Ewa's fear and paranoia are growing - literally - inside herself. Yet, Ewa differs to Polanski’s female protagonists. On contrary to “Rosemary's Baby” (1968), she refuses what comes out from the inseminating fear, oppressive reality – like Medea, she kills it instead. Her act does not necessarily signify positive ending. As violence is the only response film’s reality allows, imagined or real, even though seemingly freeing, Ewa's act still belongs to the violent reality that provoked it.

  3. Additional text : CHAMBRE FROIDE, par : Estelle Benazet, to be published in: artist book, by The Eyes (Paris), end of 2021.

In 2020 the Polish artist Agata Wieczorek began work on a series of photographs & videos titled Growing. Currently in residence at Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains, she is making the film part there. The producer of the project, Estelle Benazet Heugenhauser, also an artist, tells us about the film and its subject: “In a surgical space, carers are busy around a mannequin, its legs spread, resting in stirrups. The hands work together, remove the belly like the lid of a chest, and in the middle of the plastic and metal structure, a little humanoid appears, ready to be born. Other hands, down by the silicon vulva, work to extract the little body; a piston gets working and brings it into the world. [...] With hi-tech mannequins we learn by simulating care acts. Our diagnoses are becoming automated. We are becoming cyborgs, and with this cutting-edge method used by the applied sciences, the creation of knowledge occurs like any other machine operation. After the delivery of the humanoids, Ewa, the protagonist, a medical student, deals with the little one: the infant mouth moves to express something, but it is simply a pneumatic reaction from the silicon creature. [...] Ewa now gets pregnant but refuses childbearing. The doctor congratulates her and abstains from mentioning the possibility of abortion. Ewa goes home. Later, in her apartment, blood runs down her legs. Ewa gives birth alone. On the floor, where clots of flesh are spread, Ewa discovers the abject, glistening creature that she has brought into the world. She picks up a knife and hacks it up. A former student of the National Film School in Lodz, whose alumni include Polanski, (Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby), Wieczorek is heir to a cinematic heritage of horror. [...] The brutality of the images is the only possible response to the violence suffered by all women, on whom the social and cultural mechanism imposes the destiny of motherhood. It is also a way of alerting us to the current political situation in Poland, where the right to abortion was repealed last October. We should remember that 42% of women in the world still do not have access to this human right.

Agata Wieczorek
Agata Wieczorek Pologne
Promotion Marie Curie

Agata Wieczorek was born in 1992 in Lodz, Poland. Wieczorek’s practice combines film and photography while moving between constructed documentary and documented fiction. She graduated from The National Film School in Lodz, Poland (Direction of Photography), and from the Strzeminski Art Academy in Lodz, where she studied painting and intaglio techniques. Her works have been exhibited and awarded internationally, including the Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki; Robert Capa Center of Contemporary Photography, Budapest; Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts (works in collection), Japan; Ettore Molinario Collezione, Milan (works in collection), among others. She is the Parallel European Photo-Based Platform laureate in New Artist category and HELLERAU Photography 2020 - Center for Contemporary Arts Residency Award winner. She currently studies at Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains.

Cursus

2017 – present (06.2020)
The National Film School in Lodz, PL
Direction of Photography and TV Production Department
Major: Photography
Second cycle program (2 years)

  • (Master degree to defense has been schedued for June 2020)

2011 – 2016 The Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts, Lodz, PL Graphics & Painting Department Major: Multimedia Long cycle Master program (5 years)

  • Master Degree with Distinction

2015 École Nationale Supérieure d’art de Dijon Erasmus+ Scholarship

  • Scénario: Agata Wieczorek
  • Interprétation: Dominika Walo, Viktoria Zmysłowska, Michał Włodarczyk, Agnieszka Korzeniowska
  • Image: Joanna Kakitek
  • Montage image: Magdalena Urbańska
  • Son: Jeremy Liccardo D’Angela
  • Montage son: Jeremy Liccardo D’Angela, Geoffrey Durcak
  • Mixage: Geoffrey Durcak, Benjamin Poilane
  • Accompagnement artistique: Athiná-Rachél Tsangári

Production : Le Fresnoy, Studio national des arts contemporains

Thématique : L'insaisissable peau Thematic: Elusive skin

Our lives place us opposite the other, face and body. This experience produces a social space to which we both belong. That of the cosmos, of the energy we exchange. This energy is pure expenditure, a “joining” with the world.
It enables us to penetrate a universe which can-not be reduced to what we see, to what we touch. We know it by the effects of its substance and through the hypotheses that it allows.
Matter is there, inhabited by the virtual which determines it, sometimes to the point of occupying the whole place, giving us over to the ver-tigo of play and metamorphoses. Is it purely elusive, disembodied, a concept worked through in bunches of ideas and systemic structures? No, for in taking over these hypotheses, dream sets us straight. It is a support, for a “suspended” exploration, from one space to another. The use of words can distance em-bodiment but let us not forget Icarus and his double nature, between ascent and gravity. This ambiguity leads us deep into the territories of art. They are the equivalent of the painting by Brueghel the Elder,9 of the one by Daniel Pommereulle, interpreting it, or of poesis, as recalled by Yves Bonnefoy.
in his Entretiens,10 from which I take the quotations for an article, in their regard.11 For Yves Bonnefoy poetry makes “a place and a moment appear and live.” This appearing is not easy; “however much we may hope to free words of their conceptual content, which reduces the world to in-complete, abstract figures, we will always remain outside what Rimbaud called true life.”
That is the issue for artists, for nowadays the real is manifested in the form of image banks, ar-chives and data, of processes of decrypting and encoding. The real is elaborated in series of sup-positions and compositions. The problematics of a programme, a drawing or a set of symbols struggle with the self-generation of a form “in itself.” The fig-ures of this contradiction can be read in installations, scenarios, performances and films: the figures of an impalpable presence. Those of the “will-o’-the-wisp” evoked by Vladimir Jankélévitch: “We should therefore not be criticised for the ungraspable na-ture of this will-o’-the-wisp, as we have made it our profession of faith! We profess that bareness. Our stripped science deprives us of any fixed point, of any system of reference, of contents that are easy to decipher or delegate that would enable us to epilogue, to feed discourse and open up a long future of reflection Our nescient science is more an aim, a horizon, it has kissed goodbye to substantial consistency in general.”
The use of an aim, the search for a horizon —that is what we are seeing in Panorama 23. At its heart, a twostep between “place and moment” and a principle of displacement, generated by a movement that has kissed goodbye to a substantial consistency. This productive twostep denotes this elusiveness through the scrolls of the “skin.”
What is this “skin” made of? I could say, of that “fabric” which is not the result of a weaving of ideas. Is it a flying carpet?
It is made of assembled spaces, of maps that are so many screens which, for a moment, I retain.
There we follow craft akin to Herman Melville’s Pequod, to machines in the air, vehicles of thought or passing clouds.
What do they offer us? Frontiers transcended, blind spots and reversals—in a word, the mental di-mensions of the universe. The future infiltrates the past, it breaks in. Our environment is a planetarium and our words and images multiply in astonishing kaleidoscopes.
The works at Le Fresnoy are tremendous accel-erators of our circumnavigations within the nature of the world. They call for the freedom to feel and think.
These words used by Emanuele Coccia about his film offer a kind of ideal entry into the works: “To orient ourselves in the sky hidden in each object, we must build astral maps, like the ancients. Learn to read in matter as we read in the sky.” And, “It [the sky] is the flesh of all that exists.”
Thus, using artificial intelligence, a work ex-plores the intensity and violence attaching to the word god in holy scripture.
Others point the finger at the “little reality” of our lexicons and syntaxes, at their interrelations without an object, like contemporary, mechanical prolongations of the mechanics in Kafka’s The Trial.
Yet another leads us to the North, where day and night are endlessly one, based on a cartography, a reconstituted territory that cannot be approached but is re-established by the archives. A pure mental construction, it gives us the magic of ruins, that of military buildings imagined for strategies of coun-ter-espionage, of defence of the “free world.” Sic transit gloria mundi. They are no more than dreams of a forgotten omnipotence, displaced into other theatres of operation.
In the sequence, a minimal “cube” allows us to play with the life of bacteria in a closed milieu, sublimated by a projected surface. An invisible and fascinating ecosystem inside bodies.
On another stage, thanks to post-digital tech-nology, objects evaporate and change substance. Using all the contemporary resources of image and sound, our words crystallised, language becomes transparent to itself. We pass through it and in the space sustained by lines of choirs, it is a volatile rhythm, fluidifying the linguistic matrix.
The real here is this “fabric” which is sometimes diaphanous, sometimes phantomatic, the promise of a sky turned back, buried, a treasure within a field where our five senses can disappear, as in that film where spaceships vanish in ultra-abyssal, inacces-sible ocean depths.
The maker of this film12 offers these words, which describe the poetics of the works present at Panorama 23: “It is about observing the world as it does not appear to us and inventing the possibility of rediscovering it.” Or discovering it again.
By the grace of art, more alive than nature itself, this “elusive skin,” this veil provoke dream, a dream that wrenches and surpasses them. It is not a matter of passing through mirrors but of going towards “the other”—an other who, this time, has no face and is constantly appearing, an “other,” between the darkness of the cave and the light of the sky. The other truth, is that not the name of art? Art does not say what is going to happen, it is a space, without beginning or end, without top or bottom, but this time, for an Orpheus who has the right to look back.
Olivier Kaeppelin