THE COSMIC WALL
28 & 29 JANUARY 2021
Anne Nowak investigates the transition of life through a practice devoted to creating images and objects derived from personal memory of and from cosmos, nature, the sea, spiritual mythology and inner meditative realms. Recurrent themes are impermanence and eternity, life and death, dark and light, the sun and the moon. The inherent polarities of our existence that form the endless cycle of all beings.
Nowak is drawn to the existential inquiry of humanity and translates this search into artworks adopting a visual language from planetary compositions, nebulas, floating plants and seaweeds to colorful transitory streaks that become almost portal-like formations. Alternative universes are formed and they invite the viewer to gaze and ponder if this mirroring could reflect the infinite nature of our own being.
First performed during The Armory Show New York in 2018, Anne Nowak’s work “The Cosmic Wall” consists of a gradual and simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction of a brick façade. 250 brightly pigmented lapis lazuli bricks stand in a tall stack atop one another as Nowak (dressed as a black & white clown with carnivalesque face-paint) begins to take bricks from the tallest point of this structure and construct a new secondary wall directly in front of the first.
Speaking to the compulsive and repetitive habits we find ourselves gravitating towards in times of restriction and solitude, the garish and somewhat sinister appearance of Nowak’s performative persona resembles both an impotent puppet-master and a puppet without a guiding influence. Nowak’s work reminds us not only of a Sisyphean punishment but also of Penelope's shroud-weaving in its repetitive rhythm and the meditative, self-absorbed nature of its gestures. At the same time, the performance's placement in the hyper-visible space of the gallery’s first-floor windows raises important questions about internal and external division and the inter-relation between estrangement, well-being, exclusion and assimilation.