Critics’ Picks

Ania Nowak, Can You Die of a Broken Heart, 2018, video, color, sound, 16 minutes 46 seconds.

Ania Nowak, Can You Die of a Broken Heart, 2018, video, color, sound, 16 minutes 46 seconds.

Warsaw

“&I<3U2”

Galeria Studio
plac Defilad 1
February 13–May 5, 2020

There’s a consistent narrative thread running through the exhibition “&I<3U2.” A girl falls in love, which begets desperation, which in turn is thwarted by a letter. Decoded, the exhibition’s title reads “and I love you too,” a statement that serves as a false prophecy. Several other messages appear in canvas or fabric prints—including “You’re Free. Congratulations,” an SMS that is part of artist Allison L. Wade’s collection of repurposed breakup messages (“Break-up Text Painting,” 2014)—and materialize throughout the exhibition space. Behind one such placard, Ania Nowak’s video Can You Die of a Broken Heart, 2018, shows a girl singing about Takotsubo syndrome, a stress cardiomyopathy caused by broken-heartedness, which manifests in the literal weakening of the heart muscle. The song fits oddly with the image of the young girl on-screen, who is protectively clad in armor, sinking under the weight of decayed male chivalry. Likewise, Ewa Surowiec’s ASKhIM, 2014, a merger of the words ask and him_—_a multichannel video installation comprised of close-ups of men reciting monologues derived from dating messages in a ballad of sorts—presents the only speaking male subjects within a feminist exhibition of work solely by female artists. The awkwardness in the actors’ delivery of their lines draws attention to the fact that the words, while expressing desire, are partly used as shields—words to hide behind or antibodies against the pain of falling in love. Works like Indrani Ashe’s Fifty Dates of Grey, 2014/2015, an exhaustive internet-dating and Tinder experiment that takes the form of live dating vlogs, leave us wondering if there are any objects of desire at all in these encounters, or if the artist has simply accepted the conditions of love in the age of simulation.