A cup adorned with used Q-tips. A chalice spotted with pink and fleshy human orifices-pimpled and pocked. Referencing the body, these seemingly metallic ceramic vessels are not entirely of this time. Insistent on a dense materiality, they feel simultaneously refined and heavy, delicate and ancient.

A trophy is draped in spaghetti. Another vessel, a handled cup decorated with bulging dots and small tufts of hair. You can feel the sunburn. The exposed skin. The rawness of things we usually prefer to leave hidden. The aspects of bodies that, when exposed, feel bare and revealed. The fleshy and concealed processes happening in our bodies. Our stomachs are growling, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly, sometimes at inopportune moments, but all the same- the daily, private, and uncelebrated bodily things.

In he wants to be the worst, cause he can’t be the best, Dominika Bednarsky offers reminders of the triumph of failures. In her exhibition of awards, Bednarsky calls attention to the object of the trophy. In ancient times Greek and Roman trophies were made on battlefields and sites of military victories. Often made to resemble a warrior, trophies or tortropaeum were often figures formed from the branches of trees and the refuse of war— objects, amour from the defeated, lances, banners, and stakes fixed crosswise. To chronologically follow would be formalized and substantiated commemorative objects taking the form of pillars and monuments, becoming part of the architecture— civilizations formed around sites, greatness, and victory.

Goblets, chalices, even the Holy Grail— vessels of precious metals and sanctity, evolved into plastic figurines in athletic poses. Mass-produced and embellished with detritus of sporting events, paired with urn-like shapes, contemporary trophies still reference the ceremonial form of a cup—Bednarsky’s trophies pair seemingly timeless forms with a kind of humor and irony distinctly of our time.

A trophy for the most pimples, the most ear wax, the most beautiful butt hole, the best bald head, in these vessels, Bednarsky gives us permission to relish with both repulsion and wonder. Subverting the power of trophies, Bednarsky undermines something central to ideas of value, worth, and beauty. With playfulness and humility, pieces like Muttermalpokal, offers an award to the longest hair growing out of moles. Zwiebelpokal, Onion Cup, a prize for the best onion smell, or maybe proposes we all be awarded onions for our successes or all the things we embody to extremes, our marvels. What happens when the stakes are different? When the award isn’t recognition for being the most victorious, the first to conquer, but something more absurd, human, banal.

Expanding the perimeters of what is deemed, decent, admirable, and award-worthy, Bednarsky’s chalices offer consolation and an off-kilter celebration of the messy, visceral, and ordinarily un-award-worthy things that make our bodies ours.

Text: Alexandra Hecker