In search of the Lost Temple Period (2015)

Marcin Krasny, curator of the show:

Eleven brave protagonists of the potential Robert Mainka’s film are searching for the mythical Underground Temple of Ascension. What is it, where is it and what does it look like? Nobody knows. It might be just a metaphor, or perhaps something more than that. And maybe it is a completely real place, the centre of the universe, the crossing point of all the religions and beliefs, the Holy Grail, the enlightenment, the Amber Room and the heart of darkness - all in one?

In spite of the enormous potential of this topos, it is not the most important element of this story. The adventure film by Mainka defies classical narrative and any kind of clear plot or storyline. Instead of focusing on the main motif, he directs his attention to the peripheries, avoids being explicit and instead, offers us enigmatic suggestions, riddles and questions, giving us only evasive answer. Is there anything in this story that we know for sure? We know the characters who are taking part in this spiritual, intellectual or physical journey. We have some sparse information on each of them; we know more or less what they do in their lives. We don’t know their names. Philosopher, Geologist, Geometrician, Doctor, Bricklayer, Musician, Gardener, Poet, Zoologist and even Jester and Whiner - each of them is presented through an enigmatic text, a set of expressive drawings, mysterious and sometimes fantastic photos, fragmented films and images. Searching for truth about the character hidden behind those fragments is like following in the footsteps of the artist, tracking a ghost or reconstructing a facial composite.

The show reflects the working habits of Mainka, who divides his work into stages. The first one consists in gathering ideas and images, photographing, sketching, drawing and note-taking. During the second stage, he gives a structure to the material, searches for order in the chaos and weaves networks of meanings between individual fragments. Mainka calls it: “the summoning of films”. Later on, an exhibition is organised. After that, only production and screening remain. For his artwork, the Artist has chosen his favourite polycentric composition, where every character is the main one, and there are no supporting roles. “The Artist should use all the eleven energies represented by my characters, together with the twelfth one: the observer. He can become an Artist-Geometrician, for instance, although then he would forget that life has some funny moments too. He can be the Artist-Jester, but then he would not use the energy of the Artist-Bricklayer - in other words: the Revolutionary - and so on” - explains Mainka.

But let’s ask again: what is that Underground Temple of Ascension that all of them are trying to find? Can we guess it by its name? How can an underground structure facilitate a transition to the heavens?

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