Reflecting on strategies of how to process the inundation of information and images circulating today, which are often fragmented and out of context, Małgorzata Stankiewicz raises questions about the impact of these images in mass media through her work. Lassen (2019) is a meditation on the photographic depiction of landscape in the Anthropocene—an era of accelerated environmental change. Translated from the German, lassen means to let or to allow, and here the Polish-born artist, who is currently based in Zurich allows process and experimentation to guide her practice, creating work that is both intuitive and enlightening.
Stankiewicz’s disorienting landscapes are based on images of mountainsides, rock crevices, trees, and soil-eroded river beds. Using new and old film and photographic paper, often expired, she works in a colour darkroom to create large-scale chromogenic prints by assembling small sheets to form grid patterns. From this myriad selection of film and paper, varied and unexpected prints emerge, which are abstract and often fragmented. Sublime environments are created with flares of hot red, hues of otherworldly pinks and pale yellows, or deep midnight blue. The images appear to be burning or melting, unstable and continuously transforming, not unlike the landscapes they depict.
Strategically grounding the images, Stankiewicz has mined countless news articles globally to select alarming headlines that function as titles of the works. For this iteration of Lassen, presented on billboards in Toronto and eight major cities across Canada, Stankiewicz changed the titles of her images and overlaid text on a selection of them, drawing from current news stories in Canada to establish site-specific connections. For instance, Untitled (Indigenous Canadians Face a Crisis as Climate Change Eats Away Island Home), 2018; and Untitled (All New Projects That Enable Fossil Fuel Growth Are an Affront to Our State of Climate Emergency), 2019 call to mind the Wet’suwet’en and their fight against the natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia.
Individually, the images are abstract. However, presented in its entirety, the series of 27 large-scale images on billboards across a vast geographic area creates a shift in meaning and impact. Lassen is a timely depiction about looking and thinking through humanity’s role in the present state of the planet. Replacing traditional advertising, Stankiewicz’s project maps its way from coast to coast, reframing the medium’s usual messaging. However varying the perspectives and opinions may be, globally and within Canada, Lassen touches on a collective discontent and unease about the future. Eco-anxiety, a recently developed term, refers to a chronic fear of environmental doom; many people feel overwhelming pressure and urgency to make sense of the global ecological crisis. Stankiewicz’s images are hauntingly beautiful in their abstract forms, as they convey a poetic yet urgent call to action.
Curated by Tara Smith
Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising and Nikon Canada
Billboard locations outside Toronto
9 Ave at 9 St SE
9 Ave at 11 St SE
9 Ave at 12 St SE
Jasper Ave at 117 St
North St at Alderney Dr
Van Horne Ave at St Laurent Blvd & St Urbain
Van Horne Ave at Jeanne Mance
Cumberland St at Besserer St
20th St W and Ave H
Ave J and Idylwyld Dr
Clark Dr at East 4 Ave
Clark Dr at East 2 Ave
McDermot Ave at Hargrave St
Bannatyne Ave at Hargrave St
East White Hills Rd and Robin Hood Bay Rd