What game(s) does Janek play?
The game starts with the information about Simon’s education – Janek did not finish an art school, but departments of sociology and psychology at the university in Krakow (Poland). But we won’t tell you about his career in these fields - we will tell you a little bit about how he uses his knowledge in the artistic field and how he uses the artistic field to play.
Simon’s art may be a story of games in a very literal meaning, but also in the symbolical sense. Computer games, mostly in his early period were the most important and visible inspiration.
The Carpet Invaders (based on a popular game Space Invaders) was in fact a projection of a Caucasian carpet used as a batter field for anyone willing to play. Another work of that time – Take-off – also used an idea of a computer game, however, this time the projection of a carpet was transformed into a panorama of Krakow with its characteristic view of numerous church towers – in Simon’s interpretation rocket that should be launched by the players.
That’s the literal usage of a game, but it’s not difficult to get the idea of a game standing behind these works. First of all, Janek plays with the convention of a viewer – it’s impossible to watch his works without becoming an active participant of them. Simon creates a theatre and puts his audience in a role of actors – spontaneous and real, because unconscious. He wants them to step beyond the borders, beyond what’s officially said to be the right thing to do in a gallery – for Simon art is not something that you contemplate, but something that you have to participate in, create together with an artist.
But on the other hand, it is also a game with time and place. The interpretation of his works changes rapidly depending on where and when they are exhibited. The reception of "Take-off" in Poland was (from obvious reasons) different then in other countries, but, surprisingly, the international audience was able to find in this work meanings that were unavailable for the domestic publicity. It seems that beyond a factographical level, there are also universal senses hidden in Simon’s works – sometimes these senses come as a surprise even for the author himself.
Another game – a game with a convention, imposed structures. Casino was a final project of a residency programme in Luxemburg – all the participating artists were asked to chose one of their works for an exhibition. Simon decided to play with a demand and constructed a mockup of the Casino to place all of his existing works there. The deconstruction theme was also visible in "Take-off".
In 2006 the Polish Year on Madagascar was not based on the idea of a computer game any more, nevertheless, it’s difficult to get rid of a temptation of saying that in this very example, Simon transformed himself into a game-hero. The project seemed simple – Janek S. went to Madagascar with a mission of realising a Polish exhibition there. BUT, Janek S. went to Madagascar having no contacts neither in the cultural, nor in any other field. For the author of this text it’s not even important if he succeeded (though, to your information, yes, he did), it’s important that he started this risky game and did not hesitate to use, not a carpet, snowman, a church tower but his own time to transform it into a piece of art. As a result of this trip an exhibition was organised.
After a series of projects based on the idea of a computer game Simon found a new inspiration – objects, the time that they carry, things and ideas that they relate to.
In one of his last works he used an old battery with fixed diodes. In the comment added to this work he wrote about his fascination of using non-material electricity that is already several tens years old and transferring it into the preset time.
Author: Aleksandra Halicka
Janek Simon was born 1977 in Poland. In 2001 graduated from the Jagiellonian University In Krakow, the departments of psychology and sociology. Since 2001 he’s been active in the visual arts field realising video films, interactive installations, constructing models. In 2006 he organised a project called the Polish Year on Madagascar.
Selected individual exhibitions
Exhibition / Installation,
2003 - Odlot, Galeria Potocka, Krakow
2003 – Games and Plays, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok
2005 – The People of Krakow Like Purity, National Arts Gallery Zacheta, Warsaw
Selected goup exhibitions
Exhibition / Installation,
2002 –Festival of the Young Art novart.pl, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow
2003 – 10th International Biennale of the Media Art., WRO Centre, Wrocław
2003 – The Anatomy of Moments, Marienfred (Sweden)
2004 - Audio Video Commbo – Krakow in the Praga District, Klima Bochenska´s Gallery, Warsaw
2004 - Game Scenes, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco (USA)
2004 - Art Jeune - Concernés, Lille (Francja)
2004 - Re: Location Academy / Shake Society – three months residency programme in Casino Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
2004 – Beauty i.e. painting effects, Bielska Gallery BWA, Bielsko-Biala and Awangarda Gallery, Wrocław
2005 - Beauty i.e. painting effects, BWA Gallery, Zielona Gora
2005 - Boys, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow
2006 – The Fire of the Firemen’ Headquarter (as a part of In the Centre of Attention), Centre of the Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
2006 – Polish-Russians: Common Relations, Baltic Sea Cultural Centre, Gdansk