ROOM AT THE TOP (2020)
expanded polystyrene (EPS), cement, sand, wooden ladder
85 x 330 x 85 cm
Room at the Top examines the relationship between the column as a cultural-civilizational concept and the stratigraphic column, used to depict the layers of the Earth’s crust. As we know, the pillar-saints – Saint Simeon Stylites and his followers – lived on the top of a column, provided with food via a rope or a ladder, and sometimes preached to those who gathered below. Today, we often hear about a new asceticism, eco-religion, Saint Greta Thunberg. But while pillar-saints were not tormented by doubt as to whether they would get closer to salvation, today no one knows if the sacrifice would be of use.
The work recalls these pillars, but its shape and surface also evokes the cylindrical core samples drawn from the depths of the Earth – revealing millions of years of geological strata – and their formalized counterparts: stratigraphic columns. On these stratigraphic columns, familiar from high school textbooks,
the layers are indicated by standardized geometric patterns. Here, the patterns follow the history of Earth from bottom to top in geochronological order: granite, slate, limestone, and – beneath the capital – loess. What should be at the top though? The concept of the Anthropocene, the human-made era of Earth’s history is based on seemingly irreversible and distinctly human effects (global warming, nuclear pollution, deep-sea crystallization of plastic). But while Anthropocene has become a central term in humanities and arts, geologists are much more wary of accepting such a short time as a new era. Thus, here the top of the pillar is like an archaeological supplement: its plain, neutral surface turns the rest, the past into a fragment, accentuating the human-made nature of “natural” categories. At the same time, it creates room for the new ascetics to fulfil the history of Earth.