Today we confront the thought that the climate crisis may relatively soon make human presence on Earth a thing of the past. As discussed by posthumanist theory, the vision of a “world without us” ceases to be an abstraction. It is in this context that we can view a work which was presented in the same space over a decade earlier and is now featured in the Zielona Góra main exhibition: a sculpture object by Basia Bańda, inspired by her European travels. It Was So Wonderful, the show’s title proclaimed then. Showing a human body in an animal disguise, the piece was part of a series, characteristic for that period of Bańda’s work, of spatial objects that represented animals or resembled larger-than-life mascots or erotic toys. In her paintings, Bańda furnishes the images of the persons portrayed – usually men – with fantastic and animal features. Representations of animals with human physiognomies appeared in her illustrative works, replete with personal references, which the artist produced in the previous years, frequently examining issues of sexuality and fetish.
The sculpture emphasizes the conventionality of depiction. The faux fur-wrapped figure seems intimately familiar, even if at the same time it brings to mind a mythological creature. We wonder about the identity of this animal, or perhaps a figure in its guise, while the missing eyes suggest that this is an uncompleted work, one that resembles both an exhibition prop and a dreamlike vision, an “identikit” image of the future, its necessarily imperfect and insightful reflection. The artist shortens things up here like in a funny meme, but, in the context of the climate and social crises at hand, she also refers us to sad visions of an Earth without humans.
– Basia Bańda, Creature from the North, 2009
BWA Zielona Góra
Basia Bańda (b. 1980) studied Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań in 2001–2006. She earned her PhD from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice in 2018. Working since 2008 in the Visual Arts Institute of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zielona Góra, she works closely with the Zielona Góra-based Salony Foundation. Her works are held in the collections of institutions such as the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the National Museum in Gdańsk, the ING Polish Art Foundation, the Lower Silesian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, or the Lubusz Land Museum in Zielona Góra, among numerous others. She lives and works in Zielona Góra. She is preparing a retrospective to celebrate a round anniversary of her artistic career, planning to spend more time travelling in search of inspiration, and looking around for a home to have a bigger studio with a garden.