Janek Simon’s many exotic trips over the past dozen years have served to develop his para-​artistic endeavors, vested on the frin­ges of economics, art and post-​colonial thought. As goods sub­ject to his tur­nover and re-​export he inc­luded even the products of national cul­ture (“Year of Polish Cul­ture in Madagascar”, 2006; “Nol­lywood Ashes and Diamonds”, star­ted in 2014). The exhibition “People with the Heads of Dogs” is an offshoot of these ear­lier experien­ces, as it also inverts the per­spec­tive of the artist as observer. Simon’s main topic of interest shifts from inter­cul­tural exchange towards the sub­jec­tive observations of a researcher-​traveler: exploration, and con­fabulation, too, of which the experien­ces of recognized travelers, repor­ters and artists are full of.


The exhibition features two main protagonists. The first is a man who goes by the pseudonym Seven, a Hindu man encoun­tered by Simon in India during a work­shop in Auroville. The fruit of this acquain­tance is a video recor­ding of Seven’s as he animatedly recounts the impos­sible twists and turns of his unusual life story: intimate relations with the English Queen, mur­dering Olof Palme, co-​directing Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, along with other infamous stories from the previous cen­tury, which he whole-​heartedly claims to have had a part in. Seven became a source of inspiration for the artist as he began to incor­porate autobiographical themes in his work, together with analyses of how much fan­tasy can be inscribed into the process of relaying and absor­bing infor­mation, in creating one’s iden­tity and self-​creation.


The exhibition’s second main protagonist is the artist him­self, Janek Simon. The props and artifacts he col­lec­ted are a mean­dering, sen­timen­tal col­lec­tion. They inc­lude objects that hold significance for the artist and his history, both in per­sonal and profes­sional terms. This col­lec­tion is shown along with the dog-​headed people of the title – 3D-printed sculp­tures inspired by the medieval illustration accom­panying the writings of Marco Polo, who described the coun­try, which he claimed existed in Andaman Islands, of mythical creatures known as Cynocephali – beasts that had also been described in ear­lier cen­turies by the likes of Pliny the Elder.

The same tech­nique and material was used to stitch together a per­sonal nar­rative of Simon’s emotional and artistic life, made in the form of a relief based on the ornamen­tal tapestries of Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Poland’s Pod­lasie region and of West Africa. The artist, with his charac­teristic fascination with inter­lin­ked, anec­dotal stories, relays his own story using a par­ticular visual code. At the same time, he creates one more autobiographical loop in refer­ring to his very well-​known first work, titled “Carpet Invaders”.


The exhibition has its lyrical finish in the form of poems coded within Simon’s abs­tract artistic com­positions, writ­ten in response to emotions spur­red by the col­lapse of sub­sequent intimate relation­ships. For the first time, his interest in economic, statistical and tech­nological sys­tems has been decidedly turned inwards, toward the artist him­self. It turns out to be a charac­teristic, critical gaze on the role of the artist as author who, in relaying his own observations, essen­tially creates a fan­ciful space for shel­tering his own “self”.

<p>Sculptures Man with the Head of Dog (1-­5), 2015, 3D print of polylactide (PLA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), ca. 45 x 15 x 10 cm each</p>

2015 exhibitions

Janek Simon