While visiting Bratislava, Christian Jankowski happened upon a folk art shop and became intrigued with hand-carved walking sticks. These objects have been used as a support, a weapon, and symbol for the wanderer for thousands of years. They are also among the first tools fashioned and decorated by men, anchoring them within the early history of art. Jankowski was particularly interested in these walking sticks because they had faces carved into their handles—representations of animals, ghosts of the forest, and other mythical characters.
In order to better understand the craft and history behind this form of folk art, Jankowski met with the 77-year-old woodcarver, Oldrich Richter, who made these traditional walking sticks. In a filmed interview, the two discuss Richter’s profession and his creative processes. The artist commissioned Mr. Richter to produce a new series of walking sticks, exhibited as part of the installation History of Man and Stick. Jankowski leans these walking sticks against the gallery walls and uses them to hold in place images illustrating the use of such sticks through the ages: from ancient Egyptian wooden figures to Pope John Paul II to Leonardo DiCaprio. A surprising dialogue arises from the juxtaposition of the carved wooden faces and the illustrated faces.