In his unique prac­tice as a travel­ler, thin­ker, anar­chist and artist, Janek Simon per­sisten­tly tests the possibilities of artificial intel­ligence. His quest is not aimed at resolving any specific issue, but to the con­trary, often seeks to heigh­ten com­plexity. The main sub­ject of his interest is issues of post-​global and post-​colonial iden­tity inter­woven into everyday economic, political and cul­tural dilem­mas. Wor­king with con­tem­porary algorithms, Simon pur­sues what was already the domain of art in the age of moder­nism: to expand the fields of experimen­tation and freedom.


All of the sculp­tures in the Polyeth­nic series, developed since 2016, are made using a home 3D prin­ter. After individual elements are prin­ted, they are then assem­bled and glued together by the artist, giving the finished product a hand­made charac­ter. Simon’s figures are a fan­tasia on the theme of a new global folk­lore and the poten­tial of con­tem­porary do-it-yourself tech­nologies. They are created by com­bining ethnic motifs from various cul­tures of India, Africa, South America, and Europe.


“The con­cept for the sculp­tures in the Polyeth­nic series arose during one of my travels to West Africa,” Simon recalls. “I realized that the sculp­tures sold at souvenir mar­kets aren’t authen­tic. They are actually hybrids amal­gamating motifs from various cul­tures, sometimes very far apart. … Wor­king with a 3D prin­ter, I nonetheless have the feeling of using a natural material. In some sense it is reminiscent of sculp­ting in clay.”


In the works from the Syn­thetic Folk­lore series, Simon uses an algorithm he developed which draws on hun­dreds of traditional pat­terns of textiles and car­pets to generate entirely new com­positions. The latest works from this cycle offer the paradoxical effect of depth achieved through super­im­posing numerous layers of flat pat­terns. The mul­ticoloured horror vacui of these mosaics cut from acrylic discs simulates the dynamic of ever-​accelerating cul­tural proces­ses, the radical con­gestion and inter­penetration of various codes ultimately generating the illusion of opening up new spaces. This per­spec­tive is ambivalent, offering no stable conc­lusions. It is rather a con­tem­porary, global vortex.


Janek Simon (born 1977) is one of the most original artists of his generation. His works reflect on the chan­ging economy and cul­ture in the era of globalization. The objects and instal­lations he creates often inc­lude an experimen­tal and anar­chist dimen­sion, illustrating the col­lision between scien­tific theories and everyday reality. The retrospec­tive of his works entitled Syn­thetic Folk­lore (curated by Joanna Warsza) was the high­light of the past year at Warsaw’s Ujaz­dow­ski Castle Centre for Con­tem­porary Art. The upcoming exhibition at Raster coin­cides with the release of the first monograph book on the artist (published by Ujaz­dow­ski Castle Centre for Con­tem­porary Art and Stern­berg Press), which we also recommend.

online exhibition

Janek Simon
Synthetic Folklore 2.0



The exhibition is organized as part of Not Cancelled Warsaw and takes place in a virtual space.