Tao Te Ching

Mateusz Sadowski &

In Mateusz Sadowski's video performance we see a man dressed in plain, dark clothing and in a simple kitchen. As if involved in a strange sort of ritual, he is using a ketchup bottle to write in Chinese on the white enamel surfaces. The camera does not show his face but only his hands, working quietly and with concentration.

The title of the work as well as the subtitles running across the image refer the viewer to a level of interpretation that goes beyond the purely aesthetic effect of the elegant script and the intense contrast of red and white. In this form, the red of the ketchup on the white enamel can be associated with blood, violence, and lost innocence. As quoted here, the eighteenth chapter of the Tao Te Ching – a text that actually cannot be clearly interpreted – suddenly seems like an accusation directed toward human hubris and moral decay.

In its almost complete silence, the mute protest is all the more forceful. It is only when all of the work surfaces are covered and the artist has to write the Tao on the white wall that a certain lack of self-control seems to break through the cool deliberateness. Through the use of everyday materials from consumer culture [with their multiple layers of symbolic meaning], the choice of the location, and the careful gestures, Sadowski aims for an effect that will last beyond the moment of protest. Form and content remain in a continual balance, without wearing each other out. (Sayaka Honsho)

About the video

Title Tao Te Ching
Year 2007
Videonale VIDEONALE.12
Length 00:05:17
Format 16:9
Country Poland,
Language No dialog
Courtesy the artist
Specifications color, sound, single-channel video

About the artist

Mateusz Sadowski
  • 1984, POL.
    Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, POL

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