Jan Cylwik

Lost Futures 2019

The project is a two-year reflection on my journey through nationalism. Despite being born in the UK my first language and culture was Polish. My initial striving to belong in the UK, conform and do my duty abated when I began valuing myself and others as individuals. The work is about nations and their promised futures, allegiance, and turning the clock back to glory days. It spotlights national figures on antique coins to expose their journeys to the present day.

Each image was created by layering photographs of three identically minted coins through red, blue and green filters. Unchanged areas of the figures rebuild red, blue and green back to white, while coloured areas reveal how individual coins changed in the flux of time. Still recognisable the figures may evoke nostalgia for glory days but tinged with an equal measure of foreboding about the dissipation of the nation states.

The abstract Emanation Paris 1970 image has an almost cosmological appearance. Here I magnified a 3x2mm area of the coins and saw through the nations’ sleight of hand. Hiding inside the figure, the material surface revealed the coins were nothing more than individual discs of metal each with their own histories and futures. They had lost their overbearing symbolism.

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