In her new work exhibited in the Amsterdam-based PS Project Space, Polish artist Ola Korbańska puts emphasis on the double-edged nature of things in our current realities. By contrasting and interlacing meanings at the same time, Korbańska seeks to reveal that there is always a second side to the story, and that digging deeper beyond surface layers is a necessity.

Ola Korbańska’s solo show, ALL WILL END WELL, exhibited in PS Project Space in Amsterdam, presents a pair of large-scale, two-sided textiles produced by the artist in 10 days inside the space of the gallery. Both pieces have a positive and a negative side, interlacing with one another, with the stitches and seams visible.

While the work can be read as a response to the current events taking place in Europe, it can also be understood more broadly, as an expression of the zeitgeist: a bitter and ironic Internet meme. Things, indeed, will end well, but it takes a long way for them to end. And what will the grand finale be, anyway?

on two-sidedness

I enter one room in Kröller-Müller Museum, there is a painted panel standing in the centre of the space. It shows a young lady wearing a veil and holding a carnation flower in each hand. I come closer and read the description: Portrait of Margaretha von Mochau by Barthel Bruyn the Elder, 1524, painted a year after her marriage to celebrate the union of love. The way the panel is exhibited, its position in the space of the room, clearly indicates that there is something important, worth seeing on the other side of it. I assume it is most probably her husband since it is a marriage portrait. With my hands crossed behind my back (a classic museum-style walk), I slowly pass the edge of the painting. The image I see is not the one I expected: there is a skull, a still smouldering candle blown a moment ago, and a vanitas note, (saying—as I only learned later—Everything ends with death, death is the end of things). I walk around the panel and make a short video of it.

After I come back home, I obsessively play it on loop, circling around its beginning and end, life and death, bright side and dark side, the chubby, pink face of a girl, and a skull. Even though the first image disappears to reveal the other one, I played it so many times, so that they become one, inseparable thing. As if one side was visible on the other, somehow see-through.

all will end well

if it’s not well it’s not the end

This is a sentence I’ve heard on the radio, quoted as a saying and repeated by someone’s mother. The usual kind, hopeful, banal, one that everyone has heard hundreds of times, here deepened by the counterpart: if it’s not well, it’s not the end. It implies that the neutral state of things is positive. I start to wonder if the struggle will ever come to a grand finale, if I will ever see the happy end promised by the mother.

well, all will end

lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

Laughter became the coping mechanism of powerlessness, the feeling of lacking agency, turning the most bitter events into a joke. Laughter is the terminus, the limit, the end, the last resort. I start to think that the end of the world will, indeed, be just a laughing out loud, as there will be nothing else left. Just like in the final scene of Gombowicz’s Trans-Atlantyk.

circling once again

The text on the front sides textiles is almost the same—just flipped by 90°. all will end well. well, all will end. The idea came to me while circling around the first piece lying on the floor.

The exhibition is open for visitors till the 30th of April in PS Project Space in Amsterdam – an initiative of Dutch artist Jan van der Ploeg.
Artist: Ola Korbańska
Exhibition title: ALL WILL END WELL
Curator: Jan van der Ploeg
Venue: PS Project Space, Amsterdam
Address: Madurastraat 72, Amsterdam (the exhibition can be visited on Saturdays from 13.00 to 17.00 hrs. and by appointment)
Date: 19.03.2022 – 30.04.2022
Instagram: @olakorbanska, @psprojectspace

Ola Korbańska (b. 1992 in Poznań, PL) is a visual artist and writer based in Berlin, DE. In her artistic practice, Ola investigates the nature of objects in the context of changeability and social perception. Her projects arise from observation and critical reflection with the use of various media such as installation, large-scale textiles or written text. She holds an MA in Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.