Good God
Wood, cement, ash, electric cushion, keys and pine needles
Dimensions: 164 x 64 x 94 cm 253 x 60 x 28 cm 60 x 15 x 8 cm
Reference: ACF0689
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This installation, which belongs to the series "Good God", which Balka made from an earlier work -When I Wet the Bed, 1987-, was presented in the open section of the Venice Biennale in 1990 and impressed the international public -who were scarcely acquainted with his work, since he had had few exhibitions outside Poland- with the spiritual wealth of a scene composed of simple, austere objects: at the entrance to the space, a small piece of wood (an old shelf) on the floor, which seems to allude to a prie-dieu; in the middle ground, a wooden bed with a white cement mattress and an electric pillow; and in the background, a vertical panel with an L shape at the top, which suggests a crucifix, though it could also be a gallows. In Balka's work we often find allusions to religion and the Church, such as the prayer, the crucifixion and the tomb of this work. The tradition of the Catholic Church and its influence on Polish customs has had a decisive impact on his life. "In my works the spiritual nuance is related to memories of my childhood, in which the church plays a significant part. As a child my experience was very negative; the church was an instrument of punishment." And so it is not surprising to find a title as disturbing as Good God in his work; he chose it after thinking about the orthographic and conceptual similarity between the words God and Good and how that relationship could be disquieting. In spite of that bad experience, he has never ceased to use religious symbolism in his work. Other barely visible details of the installation, such as the tiny pieces of red plastic encrusted in the wood of the bed, as if they were drops of blood; the ash swept and hidden under the shelf or prie-dieu at the entrance to the work, a symbol of loss; and the pine needles on the wood at the back, a sign of loneliness, poverty and destruction, are references to the transitory nature of life which he projects in this work from a more mundane perspective, that of his own private world, in which the sickness and death of the human body are real, that body that feels the cold of the cement even though the electric pillow helps to maintain body temperature.

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