Robert Kuśmirowski
Träumgutstrasse, 2014
Installation, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist
In his works Robert Kuśmirowski creates a world of cues and invented reality where the artist's fantasies blend with forgotten history, and where objects carrying memories of the past are set side by side with artificially aged remakes.

The very title of the work is a mystification whereby different meanings and realities are intertwined. Träumgutstrasse is the name of a non-existent street and it is also a play of words based on a phonetic combination of consonant words: Traugutt (Romuald Traugutt was a Polish general who led the uprising against the Russian empire in 1863), Trauma (as damage), Träum gut (sweet dreams) and Strasse (street). In this way the street name creates a poetic association with both illusory dreams and frightening memories.

Kuśmirowski often works with local history to create installations for a concrete location. Träumgutstrasse originated as a dedication to the Czapski Palace in Warsaw (located in the street named after General Traugutt) destroyed during a bombing in 1939. Part of the palace was occupied by the Krasinsky Library which was the center of the cultural and political life of Warsaw in 1862-1913. After the reconstruction the building houses the Academy of Fine Arts where the installation was displayed for the first time. In Wien the same work was shown in Hochhaus Herrengasse, the city's first high-rise building which remained intact miraculously during the Second World War while almost all its residents had to free from Wien. It is note- worthy that Kuśmirowski makes an attempt to adapt his work to the building in Moscow – the tenement house in Kuznetsky Most Street where the exhibition House with Spirits is taking place. This house was built in 1905-07 by the First Insurance Company (originally called Russian Fire-Insurance Company) and from 1918 through 1952 it belonged to the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, later renamed Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

In Kuśmirowski's work burning symbolizes the killing recollections and wiping off memory altogether. Kuśmirowski's burnt room exists as it were in a different stretch of being which has been frozen for- ever. The artist captures the moment of loss and preserves a memory of what remained intact, defying oblivion. The skeletons of the half- burnt furniture suggest that borderline beyond which memory, to quote Paul Ricœur, makes a deal with oblivion in order "to establish gropingly the precise measure of their mutual balance."
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