‘Because the soul, if you please, is lighter than vodka; so when you get drunk, this soul goes up and up, until it pours out in the end.’
‘And only then you can see it in a man?’
‘And if you drink too much, your soul may completely pour out and it never comes back?’
‘That’s right, and the man dies.’
Janusz Korczak , an extract from a documentary
The cycle of ‘Final Fantasy‘ by Magdalena Peszkowska is a series of elaborate, figurative compositions set in desolate scenery, devoid of hubbub, hushed, frozen, sort of numb . Covered by unsettled greenery, it becomes a magical realm. It is no longer a yard, it is
a refuge for the main characters. As if the author had singled out a safe place for them, isolating, in order to create the appropriate conditions for their intimate meetings.
The characters frozen on the spot, staring into emptiness are ‘drunkards‘. Holding bottles of alcohol, standing in a group, they make up arrays, constellations like stars. They mingle, spurn, merge with each other. It is neither one character nor a group. Consolidated, fused with one another and animals, they constitute shapeless forms. We see them in a distance, in a small format, very clearly. Watched a little from the upper perspective, placed lower than the spectator, factually they become the opposite-
The precision of workmanship, the meticulous and intricate work with a hair-thick brush, patience and the author’s attention to detail, makes them saintly as it were.
Moreover, the reference of the painting language to the Early Renaissance sacred representations is not insignificant. Though at Peszkowska‘s the sacred and profane mix on grey cardboard covered with matt-varnished paint. The con men smoke cigarettes with wise men. They wolf down sausage, show mutual affection, do business, stroke dogs and...‘ hit the booze‘. In public, as it takes place outdoors not at their homes, collectively, as it is in the company - they are relieved, they wind down. Shielded by bushes, wrapped in grass and darkness, they give themselves over in their ‘final fantasy‘.
Peszkowska is building up a mystery play. A bottle of vodka is only a pretext, a tool,
the easiest way to soothe the pain of the soul (is there anybody who has never tried to soothe it?), with its help, the underlying meaning of the issue is revealed.
Final fantasy- the last fantasy, a dream- this is the title of the series. Something awaited, liberating. A relief in the final. The end-stage. Swaying over the edge of an abyss.
A moment wherein we give up, perhaps give away, stop to control ourselves.
One of the most intimate human experiences becomes the leitmotif.
The final fantasy is also an non-accidental coincidence with the title of a famous series of Japanese computer games. Although we do not have any direct references in the formal domain, yet the mechanical quality of characters is very much significant by itself. They are sort of programmed, determined by their nature, simplified, tangled up in the relationships within the group. Carved, extracted and pasted into symbolic realm. Their own enemies, strongly unified with each other, facing up the powers of the outside world.
Gloomy, mostly dark colour schemes, contrasting minimalistic planes, detailed sets with dynamic elements, strenghten the feeling of the inner tension. As if somewhere under the surface things were throbbing, bubbling. What will be the final of the fantasy? Will the characters frozen in thought find their long-awaited peace? What do we release the tension with? Peszkowska along with her ‘drunkards-creatures‘ wakes us up from a dream full of routine and makes think whether our ‘upper perspective‘ is relevant. Aren‘t just the props and costumes the only things that differ us from ‘the boozed‘?
What habits do we give ourselves in? Who do we exclude and what entitles us to do so?