Oxo Tower Gallery
Oskar OK Krajewski, a Polish artist living in London, works across multiple media, often combining traditional sculpture techniques and materials with the latest technology, sensor lights, movement, and sound. The title of his exhibition, “Recycled Future,” refers to a project of the same name—a “NeoSculpture” made of over 25,000 recycled and up-cycled pieces, which has taken approximately three years to finish.
Recycled Future offers an overwhelming experience. One can’t just look at it because it addresses all of the senses. Composed of leftover bits of everyday life, this complicated miniature urban environment pulsates with light and sound, its intricately crafted structures evoking a utopian (or dystopian) vision of a recycled future not far removed from Blade Runner. What appears to be a collection of unused, unwanted junk aesthetically repurposed into eye-pleasing constructions, on closer inspection turns into a rather demoralizing vision of a future almost devoid of life. Though the choice of parts may seem coincidental, there is an embodied history at the heart of OK’s intuitive architecture. Found objects from the 1980s, ’90s, and early 21st century—computer guts, old watches, light bulbs, toys, and tangles of wires and cables—coalesce into a cacophonous and seductive conglomeration of abject matter on the brink of collapse. OK says that his work “brings awareness of what can be done with rubbish,” turning “non-biodegradable waste” into usable and thought-provoking creations, but he goes further than that.
His visionary environments, inspired by mythological and biblical themes such as the Tower of Babel, present a vision of the future that remains open to interpretation. Whether we like it or not, this is a space governed by technology. The junk becomes symbolic, transmogrified into a sublime and fetishized reification of Vance Packard’s The Waste Makers. In the Recycled Future, garbage becomes a postmodern metaphor associated with transgression, dissent, kitsch, marginality, and appropriation.
Junk is now a 21st-century trope for what Nicolas Bourriaud identified as “the flea market,” “the omnipresent referent,” a visual model that draws on the richness of a bazaar or nomadic gathering. It is a powerful mode of artistic practice reminiscent of, among others, Tom Sachs and his “make-do ethics of bricolage.” OK similarly re-contextualizes rubbish and mundane materials to mix idioms of contemporary life and re-engage with conversations from the 1960s concerning the reemployment of trash and found materials in assemblages. OK is a culturalist bricoleur, a collector of objects and their stories, an alchemist who transforms matter.