Imagine a house whose roof has been removed without disturbing either the contents of the rooms or their occupants. Now imagine yourself hovering—birdlike, godlike, utterly invisible—just above those exposed chambers, able to peer in and examine every little domestic detail at your leisure. There’s something at once dreamy and disturbing about this vision: You’re a giant child in The Twilight Zone, playing house with living dolls. You’re Big Brother, testing the ultimate high-tech home invasion. But come back down to earth: You’re in a Chelsea gallery looking at photographs by the Warsaw-based collaborative team of Aneta Grzeszykowska and Jan Smaga, who have gone to great pains to realize a point of view previously available only to helicopter pilots in Tornado Alley.
The nine pieces in Grzeszykowska and Smaga’s American debut show were made over a period of two years. Each multi-part piece represents the floor plan of a single house or apartment that was photographed bit by bit using a camera rigged up to a track system on the ceiling of every room. The information from hundreds of individual photos was fed to a computer and compiled into a seamless patchwork of startlingly specific, freakishly omniscient aerial views. In one configuration, the artists themselves pose provocatively at either end of a broken-L-shaped space. Grzeszykowska sprawls nude across from a TV; Smaga soaks in a bathtub. Between them is a kitchen counter with the preparations for what looks like a vegetable stew—just one of a group of tabletop still lifes so fortuitously composed that they each deserve pictures of their own.
Like an archaeological dig exposing layers of bunched-up duvets, cheap oriental rugs, and Elle magazines, Grzeszykowska and Smaga’s project is a fascinating investigation of the mundane. Besides, its invitation to guilt-free voyeurism and unexpected intimacy, however imaginary and unearned, is irresistible.