Ewa Trafna

Intersecting Worlds

Berlin, Detroit, Warszawa

Zwischenwelten / Międzyswiaty

Uta Schorlemmer (Hrsg.) 

In the last three decades a “new physiognomy of the continent” arose (Schlögel 2005). The breakdown of structures caused by political and, more importantly, economic developments gave Ewa Trafna during a visit to Detroit the impulse to artistically engage with her experiences of abandoned property, industrial wastelands, and the standstill of urban communication in previously thriving cityscapes. Overseas, the artist experienced something that was familiar to her both biographically and from the fate of Polish and German cities like Warszawa, Łódź, Bytom, Wałbrzych as well as Oberhausen, Bitterfeld, Eisenhüttenstadt and Berlin (Oberschöneweide). Trafna’s series, originating from the memory of Detroit– although it is by all means also currently a geopolitical burning issue–expresses in a universal way how architecture bears witness to an era, both its successful times and its setbacks. But with further change they are whitewashed, built upon, repurposed. New cityscapes are created, whose transformations are barely noticeable on site, but which are not only documented by artists like Trafna, but also granted an artistic visage. Art is an actor that engages in the process of urban forgetting and remembering. Trafna’s work provides now an opportunity to pause for a moment and a space to re-think this intermediate state between past and future, both in its melancholy but also its potential.

In Ewa Trafna’s paintings I discover the space of a world that has disappeared.  They convey vanishing landscapes of earlier civilizations. Their strength derives from the process of decay. Saturated with a vision of an end and the extreme, the paintings stimulate thought and discussion about the meaning of life and ask the question: Where do we come from? Where are we heading towards? Ewa Trafna’s efficacious and intuitive style of painting captures the cataclysmic emotional state of humanity today—full of unrest and doubt. It allows its depth as well as its ordinariness to be discovered. It awakens a pervasive understanding of a sense of loneliness. It reveals the chaos and tension in the reality around us. - Jerzy Brukwicki

With gratitude to the Polish Institute Berlin for its contribution.