„(...) Sometimes we get an impression that we can hear a clear sound of a tight string. Thin as a spidery thread, too transitory in its flickering to be seen, it is set into resonance by the will of self-preservation. This gentle resonance attracts our attention. Blurred at the beginning, almost indistinguishable from noises, it slowly acquire acuteness as new concretions, approximations and variants appear. They are bearing an image of identity, a knot joining different perspectives and time courses.

This process can be observed in the work of Joanna Hoffmann. Here everything has its reason..

Causa materialis are ash, wax, sand, paving stone, brick...in natural colours of grey, ochre, sepia - casts, imprints, traces, destructs - elements and remnants of something that once had a form. Now - crippled - became a container, a casket with a double bottom, protection, veil. They conceal objects:  a watch, compass, magnifying glass, book, record, scale...This is the way the first tension arises - between the matter in the state of disintegration, decay, distraction and objects of  a highly complicated and organised body. They designate some points, centres - to notice them one has to stop, concentrate, read their function and behaviour within the whole structure.

The effective cause could be expressed in the question: Is a „stable behaviour” of a subject possible? Can a subject be still a unity despite the fact that everything which he/she considers as his/her own can be exposed to distraction, abstraction, joined into another - biological or ideological - narrative.  Is it possible to objectifies the subject,  reduce  to singular behaviours, functions, relations?

Whatever the Self (here - Joanna Hoffmann) generates seems to have a narrative character. But it is not any particular story. The aura of used materials and objects does not suggests any strictly defined theme of narration - it becomes its symbol.

WE are unable to possess symbols, but we can combine them. What’s more - we do it constantly.  Some people claim that they represent  something we should integrate with. This integration implies the merger into some great age-long history, into a stream of the ”universal”, where our home is meant to be. Thus we are „at home” each time when we allow ourselves to join something more general, something that overpasses us, something we are all immersed in.

Joanna Hoffmann’s treatment of space results in compositions which are equally delicate and vulnerable as our Self endangered by the heavy machine of destruction. Threads of different stories, narratives and symbols seem to meet each other at points where some distinguished  elements evoke a concentrated and  active look. These threads transform the point of  their intersection into a centre of subjectivity.

Space and time are essential here. Since we have no access to other dimensions which could join  all these „lines” existing in the space of intuition rather than in the physical world , we assume the presence of the centre rather than we see it.

The time of existence of substances varies despite the fact that one conceals the other.

Elements arranged within the ”closed by walls” space require a panoramic look., a sweeping glance along its own „horizon”, but then  they provoke to come closer , change the accommodation of the pupil to another distance and scale.

Touch of the matter. The aesthetics of a trace, allusion, suggestion.

These constitute only a part of the structure of Joanna Hoffman’s installations,

This structure eludes descriptions. Otherwise what would be the sense in realising it?

Even if such an analytical description appears - it can not introduce the unity. However, being truly equivalent it could  evoke such intuition. But then we would be dealing only with its aesthetic and not with subtle orchestration of space made by Joanna Hoffmann.


Lech Karwowski, an excerpt from the catalogue of Joanna Hoffmann,

“Episode. A guide for”, Lublin BWA,1999.