Agata Madejska: Grand Habitat Horror Vacui

12 Jan-18 Feb 2024

Flat Time House
London SE15 4BW


Agata Madejska’s artwork explores the power structures inherent in language and speech. These explorations are often expressed as sound, sculpture and installation, alongside post-photographic processes. Informed by her personal history, of growing up in and migrating from post-communist Poland, Madejska has responded to the space at Flat Time House by expanding and overlaying these narratives with an exploration of the power dynamics of the domestic and intimate. The exhibition includes a series of site-specific interventions for the successive rooms of FTHo such as a padded leatherette floor, a smoke sculpture, spoken word sound piece and a large organza structure, each a specially commissioned artwork or environment. Grand Habitat Horror Vacui is the artist’s first UK institutional solo show.

With a background in photography, Madejska has increasingly pushed beyond the surface of the flat image, expanding into embedded and durational forms. This new body of work examines the parameters of value and revenue by looking at various ideologies of ownership, such as assets; natural and public resources; housing and infrastructure; the woman’s body as commodity; and the body politic at large. Through oblique critique of recent political debates, in Poland and internationally, Madejska scrutinises the structures of persuasion, be they myth or fable, propaganda or spam, gossip or speculation. For Grand Habitat Horror Vacui Madejska questions the articulation of power and how modes of address are used to assemble or disintegrate the public mood. 

Grand Habitat Horror Vacui coincides with the launch of a new publication by Agata Madejska. Mistakes Were Made (Edition Taube, 2024) develops Agata Madejska’s ongoing interest into the fissures of institutional power by looking closer at the linguistic structures of contemporary politics. The collection of poems at the core of Mistakes Were Made are deconstructed speeches made by Western leaders between 2016 and 2022 — pronouncements which mark the beginning or the end of a political reign. Transformed into jittering, self-­affirming monologues, here, the political content of these public announcements has been removed. Debased of rhetorical action, Madejska’s editing exposes the patterns of persuasion that colour the play of contemporary political practice.

This publication not only brings together transcriptions of these ominous proclamations but positions them next to a range of abstract light-sensitive drawings. Operating in a manner similar to courtroom sketches, these drawings are instinctive gestures made by the artist as she pays witness to the narrative flows of political rhetoric. Loose and ephemeral, they record how the lulling voice of politics infiltrates the body, directing one’s movements through as well as one’s adaptations to life.

In an age of ever-increasing radicalisation and shifting narratives within mainstream discourse, Mistakes Were Made asks us to look beyond the facade of our political architecture and to become more cognisant of the grains that dictate our social being.