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Dream – Spon­taneous Com­bus­­tion

Dream – Spon­taneous Com­bus­­tion


Soot, ash, polyurethane resin, 180 × 150 × 95 cm

A cloud of soot, resembling a mushroom cloud hovers over the remains of a burnt body. The enigmatic phenomenon of self-ignition has been firing the imagination of the investigators of the paranormal since the 19th century, giving rise to myriad conjectures, speculations, hypotheses and folk superstitions. The divine hand of punishment, spherical lightning, magnetic discharge, suicidal thoughts, life fatigue – each of these reasons can be used in various ways to explain the phenomenon of spontaneous combustion. According to legends self-ignition occurs spontaneously, unexpectedly, the resulting fire violent and local, its source remaining inside the body which gets largely incinerated.

In Olaf Brzeski’s piece self-immolation affects an anonymous hero deep asleep, and is caused by a violent activity of the subconscious having powerful, destructive power. This act takes place inside the exhibition space, which gets charred and symbolically scorched (as in the piece Breath, 2008, see p. 36–39). The smoke billowing from the debris burnt to ashes turns into a black cloud captured in the form of a sculpture and made from an extremely light soot – lively, volatile, easily dispersed – here, against its natural characteristics, put together with a resinous binder into a concrete shape. The piece shown in the context of various exhibition spaces illustrates the hidden power of mental forces, liberated by dreams, and their dangerous potential materialised in a work of art, a symbolic threat also to art institutions.

Text: Patrycja Sikora / Translation: T.J.