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  • WHO WAS 1968?
    28 Sept 2018 − 13 Jan 2019

    LENTOS Kunstmuseum WHO WAS 1968? Art, Architecture, Society Curated by: Hedwig Saxenhuber, Georg Schöllhammer Loans by Kontakt from: Heimrad Bäcker, Stanisław Dróżdż, VALIE EXPORT, Stano Filko, Běla Kolářová, Július Koller, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević and Goran Trbuljak A decade of eruptions, departures and redefinitions in the steel city Linz. The year I968 marks a turning point that ushered in a new era. Across Western Europe and in the United States Student protests and workers’ revolts called into question the post-war power structure itself, while Soviet tanks bulldozed the Prague Spring into the ground and signalled the end of the hope that the Eastern Bloc would open up to the West. This exhibition harks back to the echoes of I968 in Linz and Upper Austria. Embracing the arts, architecture, music, film and literature, it unfolds for the first time a synoptic map on which key figures and moments of local history – some largely unknown to this day – are accorded a place. It enables visitors to embark on exploratory trips and to survey the rich fabric of relationships and linkages that includes points of contact with international scenarios and trends. Experiments in the aesthetic field were begun with a view to escaping from the cultural stuffiness of the first two post-war decades. The participating artists include: Claudia von Alemann, Ant Farm, Heimrad Bäcker, Josef Bauer, Bill Bollinger, Dietmar Brehm, Gerd Conradt, Waltraut Cooper, Stanisław Dróżdż, Erró, VALIE EXPORT, Harun Farocki, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Stano Filko, Helmuth Gsöllpointner, Timo Huber, Johann Jascha, Martha Jungwirth, Gülsün Karamustafa, Gerhard Knogler, Běla Kolářová, Juliús Koller, Peter Kubelka, Zofia Kulik, KwieKulik, Maria Lassnig, Fritz Lichtenauer, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Josef Nöbauer, OHO, Yoko Ono, Gina Pane, Friederike Pezold, Cora Pongracz, Chris Reinecke, Martha Rosler, Dieter Roth, Zorka Sàglovà, Dominik Steiger, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević, Goran Trbuljak, Tucumàn Arde, Jiřì Valoch, Agnés Varda, Peter Weibel, Hannah Wilke, Jana Želibská, Želimir Žilnik, Zünd-Up http://lentos.at/html/en/4747.aspx

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Artur Żmijewski

Artur Żmijewski was always focused on social processes, traumas, the borderlines of taboos, therapeutic situations, and the Other—specifically the one that has been displaced, handicapped, crippled. His art evolved out of the issue of human beings’
subjectivity/objectification and the conceptualization of the body during the 1990s, a development that culminated in his explicit manifesto “Stosowane Sztuki Społeczne” (known in English as “Applied Social Arts”), published in 2007 in the leftist magazine “Krytyka Polityczna”, of which Żmijewski is one of the co-editors; that same year, he also contributed the preface to “The Politics of Aesthetics” by Jacques Rancière in the magazine’s KP book series. At the same time, making reference to Lars von Trier’s “Idiots” during the “Avant-garde in the Bloc” conference in Warsaw (2007), he stated: “By artist, I mean not one who knows, who is a shaman or a demiurge, but one who is an idiot.” Thus, for Żmijewski, the artist’s task is not to create sculptures or paintings, but “to go out to society,” to “enter reality” and “spasticate.” Spasticity is tantamount to breaking the rules. It enters the situation blatantly, disturbing conventional language. As a “cognitive tool,” it unmasks social relations and mechanisms as well as opens up the possibility of liberation from shame and the normative, but also activates unknown conventions and new behaviors. The metaphor of ‘spasticity’ is very much reminiscent of the practices of Grzegorz Kowalski’s studio class “Kowalnia” at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts during the 1990s, where Żmijewski studied between 1990 and 1995 along with Paweł Althamer and Katarzyna Kozyra. Kowalnia’s unconventional didactics might be perceived as a continuation of Oskar Hansen’s utopian theory-practice of the Open Form, which professor Kowalski referenced and interpreted in his teaching. Żmijewski feels himself part of this “Hansenian” tradition and recalls it as a “technique” he learned as a student while striving to develop it creatively (analogous to Paweł Althamer) by working with others and with groups. One of the first Kowalnia group projects on which Żmijewski worked was “Common Space, Private Space” (“Obszar wspólny, Obszar własny”) in 1993, which was based on a dialogue involving no verbal communication. For this exercise, Żmijewski created simple “interactive” assemblages and sculptures entitled “Studies in an Act” (“Studia aktu”, 1993), imitating both physiological processes and decay. In search of solutions for Kowalski’s “exercise” projects, Żmijewski began using performance techniques. In 1994, he arranged a series of performances addressed to chosen individuals entitled “Monologues to People” (“Monologi do ludzi”), and he also began using photography and film. His diploma directly addressed the physicality and phenomenology of the human body, prepared as one object in “40 Drawers” (“40 Szuflad”, 1995), which consisted of drawers with photos of naked bodies (or fragments thereof), powerfully (oppressively) touched by hands as “informe” mass. That same year, he made the analogous “body” film “Temperance and Work” (“Powściągliwość i praca”), in which he “conceptualized” the body in a similar way, acting himself along with Katarzyna Kozyra. This film shows bodies in various deformed states that result from their touching, with each of them effecting the contortion of the other. At that time, Żmijewski—along with other students of Kowalski—was running an art magazine, “Czereja”, and an ephemeral art space bearing same name, which appeared outside the Academy with Kowalnia’s group shows at the Stolica Cinema. The film “Me and Aids” (“Ja i Aids”, 1996) was made for one such exhibition, organized by Żmijewski and Grzegorz Kowalski and with participation by Katarzyna Kozyra and Paweł Althamer, which bore an identical title (“Me and Aids”). It was closed due to a decision by the cinema’s management, and it proceeded to reopen later on at Jacek Markiewicz's a.r.t. gallery in Płock. The film presented collisions of naked bodies (Żmijewski, Twaróg, Maciejewski) bumping into each other, symbolically representing the danger inherent in “meeting and living with the Other.” Analogous “collisions” and games appear in Żmijewski’s later film projects such as “Berek” (1999) and became his main focus in situations featuring “conflict” and group behaviors, evoked and directed by Żmijewski himself, as can be seen in: “Repetition” (“Powtórzenie”, 2005), “Them” (“Oni”, 2006) and in his curation of the 2012 Berlin Biennale.

 

B.P.

1966, Warszawa / PL

Żmijewski studied at the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (Poland), receiving his diploma under the tutelage of Professor Grzegorz Kowalski. In 2006 Żmijewski represented Poland at the 51st Venice Biennial (Italy). He is currently Art Director of “Krytyka Polityczna”, a socio-political magazine held in high regard in Poland. In 2007, Żmijewski published a collection of interviews with various artists entitled “Drżące ciała” (“Shivering Bodies”). Żmijewski is a regular collaborator of the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw.

Please follow this link for a selected bibliography available at the ERSTE Foundation Library
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