Visual artist with a background in sculpting. Creator of conceptual sculptures and installations. Author of architectural projects designed as instruments of critique of architecture and city planning. He realized works drawing upon environmental art. In search of his own language, he moves between fields of art, primarily architecture and sculpture, demonstrating the fluidity of borders.
Born in Białystok. Graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where he studied from 1981 to 1985 and defended his thesis in 1989. In the years 1985-1988, he attended The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. He lives and works in Warsaw. Professor at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, where he runs the Interdisciplinary Design Workshop at the Faculty of Design.
Laureate of many competitions in Poland and abroad. In 2003, he received the first prize in a competition to develop the post-industrial areas in Boxberg in the Lusatia lake region (Project Mars).
In 2005, he won the international competition for the design of the Park of Reconciliation between Nations in the vicinity of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In 2006, the artist represented Poland at the 10th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, with his Transfer project. In 2007, he received the Audience Award at the 10th Triennale Kleinplastick in Fellbach and was also granted the honorary award in a competition for the design of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In 2015, he received the silver ‘Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis’ (awarded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland).
Geometry of the Inside Concept (ideological declaration)
The revaluation of the Vitruvian figure is perhaps Kozakiewicz’s most seminal contribution to the theory and practice of architecture. The architect moved away from architecture when he created the Geometry of the Inside Concept based on the canon of the human body proportions.
At the basis of the Geometry of the Inside Concept paradigm lies the belief that man is integrated with the space in which he lives. The artist builds his architectonic structures from chunks created as a result of connecting points that correspond to natural orifices responsible for human vital functions: seeing, hearing, breathing, consuming, reproduction and excretion. The Geometry of the Inside Concept is, in other words, a geometry derived from the body’s interior- an open entity integrated with the external world.
Enneagram (2001) was a prelude to the Geometry of the Inside Concept. The work was a spatial body model based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, shifting from the formalist paradigm (canon of proportions) to one which was dynamic and participatory (the human-world union). Enneagram and Absentia (2002) – a graphical representation of the Geometry of the Inside Concept demonstrating a method of deriving geometrical chunks from the human body – formed Kozakiewicz’s manifesto.The artist’s vision fits into the history of the analogy between body and architectural structures, also serving as a critique of anthropocentric thinking in architecture. Kozakiewicz wants to free architecture from external structures and rules, and instead instil interpersonal and ecosystemic principles in the design process.
Spatial equivalents of structures pictured in the Absentia diagram became either architectonic modules or sculptural forms. The Tower of Love (2004) was the first architectural project to realize the Geometry of the Inside Concept. The point of departure for this architectural arrangement, which is an attempt to find a spatial form for the idea of community, was the topography of orifices. The building consisted of a pair of dodecahedrons based on the models of bodies connected by a kiss. Another interpretation of the Geometry of the Inside Concept is the installation The End and the Beginning (2011), placed on a beach in Øystese and facing towards the sea. Human existence in the world depicted a dialectical combination of the orderly world of geometrical figures and man-made abstracts with the universe’s vastness: both finite and infinite.
The Anatomy of Space Concept
Kozakiewicz’s spatial objects are also formed from 3D components, based on the arrangement of points connected by lines which correspond to the orifices of the human head: earholes, eye sockets, nostrils and the mouth. Various architectonic plans and visualizations emerged from this concept: The House of Constant Projection (2007), Winter Pavilion (2008) and the archi-sculptures (a term coined by Marta Leśniakowska), comprising the project Anatomy of Space inaugurated in 2012. They embodied the Geometry of the Inside Concept . Kozakiewicz is interested in the bodily dimension of the space – human as an existence which is astir, relational and social. Archi-sculptures express the conviction that humans being ‘in movement and ‘co-existence with others’ brings out the ‘spatiality’ in space.
The spatial objects translate the phases of human head movements and spaces of encounters into the language of geometry. Archi-sculptures (part of proto-architectonic forms) can be transformed into objects of utility: some of them were conceived as functional spaces as early as in the designing phase (Observation Tower on the Warta River, 2009-2011). At the same time, however, they are all anarchitectonic structures. Their sense of existence does not lie in the conventionally understood public utility – they are more about creating a ‘space of experience’. Kozakiewicz explicitly invoked his connection with anarchitecture by creating Anarchitekton (29,7 floor square meters) – an Homage to Gordon Matta-Clark (2013). Archi-sculptures are tools of architecture’s psycho-analysis. They serve to draw out that are suppressed or ignored by the architectonic discourse, particularly the instability and impermanence of architectonic structures and the reality of homelessness (Habitat, 2017; Dwelling, 2012-2017).
The artist incessantly faces the problem of the borders of architecture. In archi-sculptures, one can observe references to the ideas of the Italian Futurists. For them, like for Kozakiewicz, every move is a step towards the future. Drawing from this, the Anatomy of Space project leads to the question of architecture’s future. Brug illustrates this well- an ephemeral site-specific construction sitting between the worlds of architecture and installation art, designed for the city of Bruges (5-9.2018). He wanted to create an environment which would allow to deepen the experience of space and time. Territorial and temporal paradoxes of proximity and remoteness, as well as the mutual permeation of historically and culturally different realities, became the artist’s focus. A bridge overlooking a canal was created – a symbolic bridge connecting the architecture of the past (the medieval buildings in Bruges) and the architecture of the future.
Macrocosm and Microcosm. Architecture of the Future
Futurist characteristics were noticeable in Kozakiewicz’s art as early as in the 1990s, referencing his interest in astronomy and new technologies. By dwelling on the connection between the macrocosm and microcosm, the artist focused the viewer’s attention on orifices and the ongoing flux between man and reality. In works such as On the Boundaries of the Bodies 1997), HMUS. Humanistic Model of the Solar System (1998), Landscapes. The Concept of a Humanistic Theory of the Solar System (1998-1999) he assigned parts of the human body to planets, creating a peculiar interpretation of the theory of the universe as a living organism.
The presupposition that man is a microcosm gradually led Kozakiewicz to muse the essence of human habitation and the role of technology in these spaces. In Landscapes, the map of the planets of the Solar System (HMUS) was projected onto the map of Europe. Lead casts representing human organs formed the project On the Boundaries of the Bodies, modeling monumental earthbound structures. This led to the idea to transform certain places on the earth as fragments of the human body and to embed anthropomorphic, modern dome-buildings into these landscapes. On one hand, this utopian vision corresponded with brave ideas of ‘revolutionary architects’ – the projects of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux and Etienne-Louis Boullèe. On the other hand, Buckminster Fuller’s futuristic constructions served as its reference point. This work revealed characteristics and elements which foreshadowed Kozakiewicz’s later projects: inspirations drawn from science fiction, playing with scale, dialogue with the site’s context, blurring the lines between sculpture and architecture, viewing and treating architecture as a medium for ideas and symbols, and emphasizing the multifunctionality of design.
The ‘Form Follows Nature’ Idea
Many of the artist’s projects reflected man’s place among nature. The earth’s matter became the material from which art is created. By drawing on the experience of land and environmental art, Kozakiewicz transformed the landscape – like in Boxberg, where a big earthen sculpture in the shape of an ear was created on account of the reclamation of former mining terrains (Project Mars, 2003-2007).
The artist often calls to the problem of the degradation of the natural environment. He illustrates the disruption of natural balance of the ecosystem areas inhabited by humans. At the essence of his activity lies that humans are an integral part of the ecosystem – thus, when building both human and the environment must be taken into account. Enhancing the quality of the city inhabitants’ lives in mind, Kozakiewicz designed two ‘impossible’ skyscraper parks: The Tower of Love (2009) and The Oxygen Towers (2005). He also proposed to reclaim a garbage dump in Tumanek near Wyszków, in its place opening a tropical park – Tardigrada Botanica (2009). These projects embodied the idea that ‘form follows nature.‘ The arrangement of green terraces in the interior of The Tower of Love represented the structure of the DNA model. The Oxygen Towers resembled human lungs. Tardigrada Botanica’s dome – the body of a small invertebrate, tardigrade.
Kozakiewicz’s architecture is often inspired by the structure and functioning of living organisms and by the shapes and activity of individual body organs. Architectural forms also mirror the artist’s interest in the phenomena occurring in the micro-world. The architecture of the recreational complex designed as part of the plan to revitalize the Lusatia lake region (Hexagonal Park, 2002; Green Cloud, 2003, Pontoon Bridge, 2004) drew upon the structure of a carbon particle. The Aquaporin fountain (designed in 2010, realized in 2015), in the vicinity of the Copernicus Science Center, mirrored the appearance and activity of an aquaporin protein which forms channels to transport water particles.
Conceptual architecture / Critical architecture
Kozakiewicz work intersect art and architecture. Alongside terrains which are degraded and in need of revitalization, he is also interested in urban spaces – neglected and forgotten, and places which went down in history.
The artist’s designs are examples of conceptual and/or critical architecture – not always meant for realisation. Usually, Kozakiewicz uses models, mock-ups and visualizations. They allow to formulate or solve specific problems and are a platform for testing the boundaries of architecture and verifying its paradigms. They are meant to break the mould of design. The models Kozakiewicz uses contribute to unusual visual solutions. At the same time, they serve as diagnostic instruments evaluating the functioning of man’s environment. They display the results of bad spatial policy. They point out the omissions and abandonments in the field of urban-planning and construction nature, creating dialogue about various aspects of public space: physical, social, political and historical.
The Tower of Love and The Oxygen Towers were created in response to overcrowding and pollution in urban environments. The city’s ecological balance was also a theme of Transfer (2006)– devised as a network of overpasses for pedestrians and cyclists, allowing a safer and healthier (‘transfer’ of fresh air) movement around the city. It also created a ‘memory path running through Warsaw’s historical locations’ (as Gabriela Świtek put it). Many other of the artist’s projects were also realised with a specific location in mind – Kozakiewicz’s art is often site-specific. The artist acts wherever – as he says – ‘an artistic intervention can create new contexts or draw out invisible layers of meaning’. He believes it is about exposing the specific elements of given locations. In Brussels, a cylinder-shaped well was designed in which the artist enclosed the sky (The Sky over Schuman, 2011), reminding the harried city dwellers that sometimes it is better to look up to the sky than look down at the pavement. Kozakiewicz’s architectonic visions are also a form of dialogue with a given location’s past. The artist takes history as his starting point, studying memories of places, viewing it at different angles of spatial associations and visualizing emotions which the location stirs in us. In Cloud Maker (1999) the dispute of the architectural heritage of social realism was exhibited, Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science being its symbol.
Interior Geometry (2005) reflected on the place of ‘national dreaming’ – Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. Punctum (2007) was meant to trigger a discussion about the rationale behind building a pseudo-historical mock-up of King Przemysł II’s castle in Poznań – the self-aggrandizement of the authorities’ architecture was harshly criticized. Józef Rotblat Institute of Disarmament of Culture and Abolition of War Project (2016) created with Krzysztof Wodiczko called to revise the traditions related to the glorification of war; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw was chosen as its location.
Cinematic Stories About the Future
We can also find science fiction projects in Kozakiewicz’s oeuvre – short mockumentary films, mini spoofs of pop-science TV shows. The artist manipulates scientific information to fictionalize and exalt perceived reality. His futuristic film stories transport the audience into the future, while portraying the effects of man’s destructive activities in the world today. In Satopticon (2005), the artist portrayed a futuristic prison placed on the Earth’s orbit – the project criticizes the abuse of the technological revolution and technocracy and points out the problem of injustice masked behind laudable ideas and man’s tendency to do evil.
The narratives focus on the use of new technologies and the accomplishments of biological sciences, but at the same time undertake the concepts of new humanistic ideas, such as ecocriticism, trans-humanism and post-humanism. Kozakiewicz is interested in man’s responsibility for nature, the happiness of other humans and animals and the problem of transformation and hybridization of the human body. The keystone of his film pseudo-documentaries is that man, as the world’s builder, has to try to experience the relations between himself and other organisms as well as between such organisms and their own environment.
In The Nature of/for Living (2007), Kozakiewicz focuses on the issue of global warming and, at the same time, diagnoses the problems that inhabitants of post-communist block of flats have. This leads to a reflection on the possibility of revitalising such settlements. R/Evolution (2011) is a story about the dawn of anthropocene. Its protagonists, Asian giant hornets, use solar energy to enforce biological processes. The way these insects live becomes a starting point for contemplating the human body and the ways they could be changed with the achievements of biotechnology. The film explores, on the one hand, about the danger of war which would be triggered by climate change and access to natural resources, and on the other – about animality inscribed in human nature. The artist depicts evolutional continuity between humans and non-humans and ponders on the possiblities of building a non-hierarchical community of beings which would operate accordingly with the rules of eco-development.
Works in Public Space (permanent objects)
In 2005, the project by Kozakiewicz and his team (Ewa Kosiacka, Karolina Tunajek, Piotr Twardo) won the international competition to develop the area opposite of the museum in Auschwitz-Birkenau on the right side of the Soła River. A ‘ghost bridge’ concept (currently in realisation) arose to connect the concentration camp with the park. The overpass designed by Kozakiewicz resembled a ribbon twisted around its own axis, symbolising the passage from death to life, from war to peace.
In 2008, the Door to Museum installation was placed at the main, northern entrance to MS2 in Manufaktura, Łódź. The idea was to make it stand out from the shopping mall. The monumental object was made from corten steel which changes colour in contact with air and rain (a layer of rust appears on it). The door leant on the museum’s façade and resembled the shape of blind arcades found on the building.
For the Copernicus Science Center, Kozakiewicz designed the Aquaporin fountain. It was installed in at the building’s entrance in 2015. The fountain was composed of several helixes – rescaled aquaporins (channels transporting water particles in the cells of living organisms).
In the same year, Kozakiewicz created Transition, placed in the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko on the Rolina pond, which belongs to the museum. A catwalk was installed over the reservoir, used to teach how to walk on water. The installation encouraged people to reflect on experiencing the impossible through art.
Jarosław Kozakiewicz’s works are also in the collections of:
Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń, Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdańsk, Arsenał Gallery in Białystok, MS2 Museum of Art in Łódź, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, CAP Collection.
Written in Polish by Patrycja Cembrzyńska, Mar 2018, translated by Patryk Grabowski, Apr 2018