Joanna Rajkowska, Illness as a Source of Art, National Museum Poznań, Poland, 28 June – 11 August 2019


All-Seeing Eye, 2019, 3-channel video projection, 7min 39sec (7’39”) each, as part of the group show Illness as a Source of Art, National Museum Poznań, Poland, 28 June – 11 August 2019. 


All-Seeing Eye by Joanna Rajkowska was initially conceived in 2013 as a public project for the National Museum in Brasilia designed by Oscar Neimeyer.  The hemisphere of the museum acted as a screen for the video projection which was shown during two evenings, the 6th and 7th December 2013.


The multi-layered project stems from the personal experience of the artist as a mother whose daughter was born with eye cancer. The sequence of images used in the video shows the breakdown of the tumour inside the eyeball.


All-Seeing Eye is a reflection on the idea of failure. Rajkowska relates the ‘failure’ of her young daughter’s body to that of the city Brasilia in which the project was shown. Brasilia was planned in the 1950s from scratch as an ideal city on an empty plateau. It was to be a city of clean lines and rational planning without the colonial legacy and without slums. The National Museum was designed as part of this plan. In reality, the utopian ideal of Brasilia did not work out: the city became a sort of ‘office campus for the government’, lacking the hustle and bustle characteristic of a city developed organically, and actually shunting the poor out to satellite cities.


The project’s title draws attention not only to the vital importance of sight in our life but also to the political function of ‘seeing’ in terms of observation and control mechanisms. The work presents a gigantic image of an eye displayed on the dome of the Museum, overseeing an ‘ideal’ city of with a transparent urban layout which was built for the needs of the state apparatus.


Six years later, Rajkowska decided to extend her inquiry into the phenomenon of failure by editing the footage from 2013 into a three-channel video in which she juxtaposes the concepts of an ideal city and a living organism.