Why do I feel like an intruder when looking at Johannes Vermeer’s paintings? Why do I feel a kind of shame when observing a woman reading a letter or an artist in his studio? Why do they, as the characters on the canvas, proudly unfold themselves there, as if living for themselves and not for my eyes?

Because I am peeping. Vermeer transformed the two-dimensional medium of the canvas into a keyhole.

Looking into the depths of the Incubator: nova.MA1310 immerses me in an entirely different dimension. It doesn’t matter that I stand physically on the outside. I become a witness to something that is visually and symbolically foreign to my reason and habits. Peering into the aperture, like a periscope lens, once again, for some reason, I become the Stranger…

nova.MA1310 is a subtle light performance played out on a microscale. Light, once again in Paweł Dudko’s artistic practice, gains a tangible, physical character. The Incubator conceals a self-sustaining reality – a quiet, isolated world as if it generates its own (micro)cosmos, an independent system of life. However, this life is invariably based on the polar principles of the process – beginning and end, birth and disappearance. Explosions of phosphorescent light droplets slowly submerging in liquid create countless particles, somehow “reproducing” their existence. This process evokes the phenomenon of the formation of stellar mass in the cosmos, the so-called supernova, a momentary burst when life emerges from death on an unimaginable scale.

However, it seems to exist solely for fleeting demonstration – a glow in that galaxy, primarily to leave behind a memory contained in its afterglow. The paradoxical presence of the Incubator lies in the desperation to protect and sustain that life. Deceptively, though. Incubo in Latin means “apparition” or “nightmare.” So, does the Incubator merely divert attention from what is predetermined and inevitable? Does it become a catalyst for the universal hope of transcending the unavoidable?

Perhaps that’s why, looking through the lens of the Incubator, I feel like a Stranger, a witness to Vermeer’s paintings. Peering inside, I become a viewer of metaphorical, abstract scenes of birth and death – intimate situations not meant for applause, untamed. I become their voyeur. Just as foreign as the suppressed “predetermined and inevitable” is. Observing each supernova in the ambivalent context of Paweł Dudko’s Incubator suggests, however, that the affirmation of this “life” may take a completely different direction. It is not about permanence or immortality becoming the overriding attribute, but rather the dialectical clash of those values whose relationship lasts as long as a flash.

Dorota Perszko

Inkubator: nova.MA1310

The artwork presented during the 7th Multi Art Festival – Festival of Young Art in Kalisz, 2013.

See also the video documentationInkubator: nova.PK1305

nova.PK1305 from Paweł Dudko on Vimeo.