Piotr Chizinski is the epitome of C.P. Snow’s “Third Culture.” Posited as the empirical intellect bridging the humanities and sciences, the “Third Culture” resists academic specificity to more fully navigate cultural inquiry within a real world context.
Engaged in social interaction through art, Chizinski draws from several fields of study to continually explore the ineffable socio-economic worth of individuals. Utilizing the cumbersome methodology of academia against itself, the work logically disrupts current assumptions by accentuating the disparity between past and present “truths.” Chizinski, comfortably employing symbolic low-class motifs, issues a reflexive warning against marginalization while cleverly dispelling trust in academic fortitude.
Chizinski’s most recent work is based on troubling “scientific” texts justifying the sterilization of over 60,000 Americans in the early 1900’s Eugenics movement. His pieceCentre for Calculation distills Eugenics into an interactive, sickening experience. Within the piece, one may choose to take a complicated “Breeding Exam” developed from the original 1914 exam, which determines one’s aptitude as breeding stock. The result often delivered is the dry determination: “you are unfit for breeding.”
Subversive irony abounds as the test, technically adept, is projected from inside a cast, white trashcan (i.e.: white trash). Utilizing high art’s propensities, Chizinski compounds the distinction between rhetoric, object and content, insinuating art’s inbred vernacular by allowing the pedestal–as debris collector–to issue forth scathing historical and personal allegations. Like many of Chizinski’s works, Centre for Calculation poses as unpretentious low-culture, casually providing access irrelevant of cultural pedigree. However, the content engenders a blatant challenge against class prejudice and intelligence, provoking frustrated empathy as the verdict issued, from the trash, renders one’s genetic legacy obsolete.
Chizinski’s work, similar to Anslem Keifer’s national mythology fueled paintings that forced contemplation and apology for past atrocities, demands acknowledgment and reconsideration of America’s continued pathology: science as salvation with the resulting reduction of humanity.
[ written by Ryder Richards for publication in Cornell Graduate exhibition catalog at DUMBO Art Center, May 2011. ]