In ancient religions, the term fetish meant an object – a talisman or amulet – believed to have magical power. The object was thought to have energy which could be released by means of particular rituals. In sexology, fetishism means attaining sexual gratification thanks to the presence of a stimulating object.
Modern times do not welcome magic or surrendering to instincts. Only a strong sense of reality and full control of every sphere of life guarantee success. Incessant work on the surroundings and your own body offers this sense of control over life as well as boundless opportunities for creating its every aspect. One of its manifestations is the ubiquitous mania for doing sports. The seemingly positive, health-promoting imperative for staying fit turns into addiction making people transform their bodies into living sculptures, but also yield to a whole range of sport-related elements. Fitness has become a way of life, a thief of time and money, a measure of social status and determinant of interpersonal relationships. Material objects are tangible symbols of this phenomenon. They include devices, machines and contraptions which have evolved from objects resembling instruments of torture to small, shapely gadgets that have become desirable fetishes themselves.
Maciej Kasperski’s objects are ceramics symbolically imitating their utilitarian counterparts. The perfectly made dumbbells, weights, bobs, kettlebells and gloves are idealised, proportional, beautiful gadgets. In reality, though, they have no practical application. They are reflections of modern-day fetishes-talismans with power embedded inside them. They are also fetishist objects making the human body perfect and desirable. In the process of creation, the artist went through everything fitness freaks go through before they reach their aim: he kept repeating the process of firing countless times until he got to the ultimate, perfect form.
Kasperski poses questions about the contemporary form of magic, rituals, attempted implantation of magical thinking into reality. In his narration, the modern man is entangled in a paradox: the more he tries to control life in all its aspects, the more he needs objects of cult which guarantee the control. At the same time, objects become symbols of social status resulting in a compulsion to pursue the unremitting, fervent struggle for perfection, a state which is both desired and unattainable.
curator: Alicja Klimczak-Dobrzaniecka
The Fetish of Fitness
Camera / Edit: Alicja Kielan
Sound: Michał Skrzypczyński
Breathing: Maciej Kasperski