artluk nr 2/2018

Hanna Kostołowska

At the exhibition in Zachęta National Gallery of Art Koji Kamoji enriched a series of his abstractions with captivating “Reflections on the Meaning of Art”, where he accurately juxtaposed two columns of keywords comparing by opposition Middle Ages to Contemporaneity. These solutions relate to this issue of Artluk, in which tendencies well-entrenched in tradition are confronted with contemporary trends carefully following technological development. Japanese art is exactly that, a clash of these two influences. On the one hand we have a strongly mystical, rooted in culture works of above-mentioned Koji Kamoji. On the other we have manga – inseparable from pop culture.
Besides considerations on our remarkable sculptress – Katarzyna Kobro – this issue also contains texts about art that draws from the achievements of the old art, references to which are especially prominent in artworks of Aleksandra Simińska and Beata Ewa Białecka, who both tend to create figurative paintings reminiscent of surrealism and mysticism. We will also deal with subjects related to the 1980s in Poland, notably to the Dziekanka Atelier and other independent initiatives organised in opposition to censorship then imposed by regime.
You can also expect a presentation of various takes on photography through the lens of such artists as: Luigi Ghirri and ephemerality of his Italian landscape; Jacqueline Livingston meticulously documenting her definitely feminising privacy; and participants of the “Shape of Light. 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art” exhibition in London that showcased a variety of artistic explorations that stray away from a standard notion of reproducing a visible world. Meanwhile, Jerzy Olek in his deliberations and interview with photographer Joan Fontcuberta discourses elusive reality in a process of being recorded by a lens, and never-ending magnification in a pursuit of truth (which paradoxically becomes even more blurred).
What is the value of ephemeral, impermanent or disappearing art? Seeking an answer to that question we publish articles about performance and a distinct role it played both in the 1980s and nowadays. A different expression of that kind of “elusiveness” of art is Milan exhibition of Rita Ackermann, whose huge canvases focus on a process of simultaneous creation and destruction.
We pay special attention to the 6th Mediations Biennale that will be inaugurated officially in October under the “Virtual Garden” slogan. The idea of the whole event is in a nutshell focused on aforementioned progress, namely digital and interactive art, which is explained in great detail in an interview with Tomasz Wendland – curator of the Biennale. Technological achievements and constantly developed video art are being utilised also by subjects of other articles: Ed Atkins, who creates animations starring an uncanny avatar; Wojciech Bąkowski, who immerses audience in his film-and-sound activities; and artists whose works were displayed at “Battlefields” exhibition in BWA Katowice. This year’s Artluk also includes reports from lAbiRynT new art festival or Perfidia Perfearance VII performative meeting.
Therefore, we kindly invite you to dive into newest, multifaceted issue of our magazine. It will be an experience that certainly will encourage to reflect on the condition and boundaries of modern art, which draws from both “unfashionable” solutions of the past, as well as contemporary reality and future in its futuristic, often not yet comprehensible shape.
Zhang Jian Hua, “Immigrant”, sculpture, plastic, chalkboard with 1+1=2 written on it, 2007. Asia Europe Mediations 2007

Risa Takita

Butō was started by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno somewhere between 1950 and 1960. It was a time of change, both social and political.
During this period USA forced a US–Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security which wasn’t very favourable for Japan. It caused a series of the biggest protests in Japanese history. The Japanese have faced a need to bring back and keep the value of existence as Japanese. It was then that Butō was born as a Japanese identity in opposition to US, new modern force that tried to break and rebuild Japanese culture, identity, history (almost erased due to new economic power from the West). It was a rebellion against the great power. Tatsumi Hijikata (March 9, 1928 – January 21, 1986) and Kazuo Ohno (October 27, 1906 – June 1, 2010) studied Neue Tanz, modern dance. In 1959 Tatsumi Hjikata, in collaboration with Kazuo Ohno, made a performance “Kinjiki – Forbidden Colours” based on a novel by Yukio Mishima. In 1977 Kazuo Ohno performed his solo “La Argentina Sho” directed by Hijikata. They both made so many legendary butō pieces. New butoh generations have trained butoh in Hijikata’s studio opened in 1974, and Ohno’s studio opened in 1949. However, dancers from all over the world tended to visit the latter and study there. These are the beginnings of butō.
Risa Takita, butō. Fot. R. Takity’s archive

Grzegorz Borkowski

One day long exhibition-seminar-performance-like event animated by Przemysław Kwiek for the seventh time had come into existence thanks to the artists’ self-organisation (fourth time in XX1 gallery). Perfearance – a combination of performance and appearence (a term coined by Kwiek) – is a synonym of being open to every formula of artistic communication (including hybrid ones), and the Perfidy (added to the name by Jan Piekarczyk) puts an emphasis on anti-establishment energy, acting at your own expense and risk. First edition of the event (11 February 2011) already proved how needed it is. Most of all to the artists, who require a formula of experience exchange that is not limited by a programme of any institution, but also to the audience seeking artistic situations not defined by curatorial strategies. The PP editions do not have any pre-imposed themes, and the order of appearances is decided democratically by participants.
Ewa Świdzińska, performance, 2018. Photo: J. Rylke

Marek S. Bochniarz

The opening of Wojciech Bąkowski’s exhibition “Awakening from Abstraction” had taken place a few months before Łukasz Ronduda’s film “Serce miłości” was released in Polish cinemas. In said film a story of a relationship of two artists (Bąkowski’s and Zuzanna Bartoszek) had been ostentatiously modified, interpreted and filtered through sensitivity of two actors. Scenario itself decided what is worth showing and what can be shown in cinema. Ronduda attempted a certain generalisation, tried to take a look at the nature of toxic relationships in microcosms of artists, who strive to reconcile creativeness and life, or rather: to overcome personal pettiness as well as limitations of a public figure, thus achieving something almost impossible.
The vernissage in Stereo gallery attracted quite a crowd of people, among whom many had to “discover” Bąkowski through above-mentioned film and for whom arrived an opportunity to verify how that fictional story compares to the “facts”. I believe there wasn’t a slightest chance for any discrepancy because the artist puts an emphasis on creating works that at a basic level of interpretation do not require having any knowledge of history of art and culture, and instead rely on being sensitive to associations and emotions. The latter are always unexpectedly strong. Bąkowski’s ability to evoke emotions surprises because mundane dailiness, boring and stupid reality are a matter he methodically works with, adding importance to completely trivial things, or concentrating on general and common problems. That mechanism works so well because the artist knows perfectly well how to focus our attention and how to move us – to a certain degree even against our will.
Wojciech Bąkowski, “Trouble With Recapitulating Events”, cardboard, acrylic, 2018. Photo: Stereo Gallery’s press release

Krzysztof Jurecki

A question about painted picture and its ideological representation is one of the basic, but at the same time most difficult, issues of critique and theory of art. What modern painting is? What comprises its territory and what are its boundaries? Is it currently in crisis? There are no definite answers to these questions, but there are at least three solutions on the horizon: a) being a part of a certain artistic tradition, based on undeniable mystical-religious-existential rules, assuming they exist; b) transgressing media and ideological borders that stemmed from avant-garde and neo-avant-garde, including feminism, and presently part of postmodern praxis and post-feminism; c) synthesis, or rather processing to the limits of parasitism (as Stefan Morawski puts it), of traditional art in accordance with postmodern ideas, without set rules or lawmakers, where the goal is fortuitousness of existence.

In Beata Ewa Białecka’s rich oeuvre one can find paintings that are more modernised, exhibiting dependence on geometrical abstraction, and synthesised in a specific way (“A Portrait of a Venetian”). In a manner that, similarly to Andrzej Wróblewski’s works, adopts simplification and hieratic composition expressed in a very specific style that draws from photography. When asked about Wróblewski, Andrzej Wajda said: “I knew that all those deceased come to him. He could not get rid of them because death was his constant companion”. What matters to me is the comparison to Wróblewski’s oeuvre – dramatic but secretive in its ideas, for years unappreciated by Polish art history. Modernising in both form and idea assumes in Białecka’s works also relations with the rules of feminism. Wróblewski’s paintings sit at an intersection of modernism (abstraction, surrealism), realism and socialist realism, with more emphasis put on the tradition of abstraction and metaphor.
What’s common for paintings by Wróblewski and Białecka is the hidden pain and a certain heritage of painting that is of course ought to be modernised because, according to the advocates of modernity, there is no other way left in the modern world. Modernisation, as depicted by Jürgen Habermas, was supposed to develop the tradition of the Enlightenment and eradicate magicality (religiousness) from the world.
We live at an interlude of epochs, between linearity of modernism and its faith in rationality of the world, and chaos and a priori assumed pluralism, as well as unremitting replacement of meanings, that strive to create new “postmodern modernism” (Wolfgang Welsch) or to annihilate the symbolic code (Jean Baudrillard). In my opinion, when it comes to these two opposing options, the art world prefers the concept of the French theoretician of art, who saw in simulation and hyperreality a fundamental threat to a tradition of modernity. He wrote: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it”.
1. Beata Ewa Białecka, “Beauty & Hope”, oil on canvas, 150 × 180 cm, 2012. Photo: the author’s archive
2. Beata Ewa Białecka, “Narcissus”, oil on canvas, embroidered with a silver thread, 120 × 150 cm, 2015. Photo: the author’s archive

Hanna Kostołowska interviews Tomasz Wendland

Hanna Kostołowska: What will be the catchphrase of the upcoming Biennale?
Tomasz Wendland: “Virtual Garden” is the title of this year’s edition. It has already been used when we collaboration with PGA in 2017.
Hanna Kostołowska: What kind of media will dominate at this Biennale?
Tomasz Wendland: Digital of course: games, kinetic, sound, and interactive installations. We want to use that perspective to find a fresh look at classic media as still relevant tools for researching reality. Simultaneously we organise educational activities, workshops and comeptitions. For example, in March we’ve chosen the winners of Powidoki (After-images), a competition for teenagers that posed a question about how young people perceive a video game protagonist in contrast to their own reality. In the same month we also launched street art graphics project Znaki Miasta (Signs of a City) inspired by the one hundredth anniversary of Poland regaining its independence. Ten artworks created on walls of the city and a guide will make up an urban garden or a labyrinth for visitors to explore. We also want to show games that won the awards at Game Jams in Szczecin, Warsaw, Kraków and Poznań. Everything will become a sort of labyrinth of the city and PGA. This year’s edition biggest attraction will probably be the Flow – a digital, interactive image projection by a Canadian group Maotik. Image and sound will depend completely on a visitor, whose movements will result in new shapes and unusual sounds.
Hanna Kostołowska: Digital art is not tangible. Meanwhile, in the eyes of a society a work of art is an object you can collect and keep in your house.
Tomasz Wendland: Let’s look at it another way. Everything that surrounds us is made of a matrix and information. The matrix itself, however, is information too. A tree is a growing matrix whose structure is influenced by a plethora of factors such as: soil, water, sun, moon, temperature, wind, bacteria, and vicinity of other objects. Is it possible to own a tree? A tree is also an idea. How to reconcile the existence of both an object and an idea? Both a tree and a pen drive, despite significant differences between them, are carriers of idea and information. Are we able to perceive a tree and a pen drive with our senses? Cartesian dualism involved two opposites: res cogitans – the thinking thing, a soul, cognition – and res extensa – the thing that exists, a body, matter. Art as an expression of human freedom, reflection on reality whose part it is, have been using imitation, fakes, illusion for a long time. A picture of a tree made of lines is not a tree itself. It’s just a representation, albeit an incomplete one, and an artist’s statement that does not necessarily has to have anything to do with a tree. An image is an entity in itself, but also a carrier of an idea. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a tree or a pen drive, the idea is intangible, difficult to collect and own. When once again we’ll realise that at a quantum level the universe is information, a question will spring to mind afresh: what is the carrier of information. Although, I disagree with Paul Virillo’s thesis that “We are entering a world where there won’t be one but two realities (…): the actual, and the virtual”. It’s as if we would say that an oil painting, a photo, a film displayed on a screen, and – first of all – text are another reality. I believe that digital art can be collected, just in a different way.

Julia Korzycka

An idea to destruct a work of art has been present among artists preceding the Hungarian creator Rita Ackermann. In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg erased a drawing of one of the most prominent abstract expressionists – William de Kooning. What emerged after the original had been erased, became a “non-created” artwork. In Rita Ackermann’s works the most interesting thing is the process of creating paintings. However, she subjects her artworks also to destructive factors. In Chalkboard Paintings, created since 2013, an act of drawing figures is invalidated by an act of removing and erasing them. She paints suggestions of figures on canvas, then removes them and draws them anew, and then erases them again. A deliberate act of iconoclasm makes the artist both a destroyer and a creator. Erasing and destructing become immanent creating. Chalk, as a fleeting artistic medium used by the artist, from the very beginning is bound to disappear and be destroyed. Huge canvases – palimpsests – invite a viewer to dive into the painting and reflect on the dialectics of nothingness and presence, of existence and non-existence.
“Movements as Monuments” exhibition held in La Triennale di Milano Design Museum showcased a series of paintings by Rita Ackermann (born in 1968 in Budapest), who has been creating in New York for many years. It’s her first exhibition in Italy curated by Gianni Jetzer, a New York critic and a curator-at-large at Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.
Rita Ackermann’s works surfaced for the first on the New York’s underground scene in the 1990s. They depict characteristic young, almond-eyed women posing aggressively and frivolously. Painted using various techniques they take up the whole canvas, suspended in its void. Liberated, demonstrating their sexuality and independence, they’ve been depicted in a way bordering abstract and figurative painting. After Ackermann had been noticed by a recognised owner of a gallery in New York, she started in 2012 a collaboration with Hauser & Wirth gallery from Switzerland. She had discovered her own way of artistic expression and changed her painting technique. A result of that was the Chalkboard Paintings series. A chronological order is nowhere to be found here, and a subtle dichotomy between “something that is and something that is not” is present throughout the whole exhibition. That monographic collection of enormous paintings, displayed for the first in such a large scale, shows an effortless combination of abstract and figurative. The artist creates works oscillating between existence and non-existence. The figures only try to emerge from a vague surface of canvas. Existence breaks through from the painted non-existence.
1. Rita Ackermann, “Stupid Devil 1”, acrylic, spray paint, chalk, pigment on canvas, 127 × 167.6 × 4 cm, 2015. Photo: Genevieve Hanson
2. Rita Ackermann, “The Coronation and Massacre of Love II”, acrylic, spray paint, chalk, pigment on canvas, 360.7 × 271.8 cm, 2017.

Harro Schmidt

Presentation of BULLET CHANNEL exhibition by Chinese-German artist Liu Guangyun in the autumn of 2016 was Kunstverein Kunsthalle Hannover association’s contribution to cultural integration and migration in Kunsthalle Faust. At the same time, Liu Guangyun’s exhibition was a return to the origins of our amity. His visit to Kunsthalle Faust in 2000, on the occasion of an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art, marked the beginning of a perennial friendship. Later on he also became friends with Tomasz Wendland, the director of Mediations Biennale in Poznań.
Liu’s ties to China and intercultural exchange between Hannover and Poznań sister cities made it possible to organise the first meeting of Chinese and European artists during Internationales Medienkunst-Projekt in 2002: Die Beherrschung der Natur in Hannover (Kunsthalle Faust), Facing Nature in Poznań (IF Inner Spaces) and Return to Nature in Nanjing (Nanjing Senghua Art Center).
The main goal of the organisers (Gu Zhenqing, Tomasz Wendland, Harro Schmidt) was to artistically process a topic of nature understood as a cultural construct constituting an environment and a background of human imagination. Our notion of nature not only proves the ambivalent relation between nature and culture, but is also a challenge for our senses and intellect.
During the next ten years these first undertakings brought forth a plethora of other projects of European and Chinese artists, which took place both in China – in Shanghai (Doland Museum, Creek Art Centre, Zendai Museum of Modern Art) and Beijing (Li Space, White Box Museum) – and in Poland and Germany. That is how the collaboration between IF Inner Space museum in Poznań and Kunsthalle Faust in Hannover has led to a huge Asia–Europe Mediations event (AEM in short) in 2007.
An extensive project for visual and performative arts, including over one hundred artists from Europe and Asia, has been prepared together with Zendai Museum of Modern Art from Shanghai. After that, Shen Qibin (Zendai Museum’s director), Tomasz Wendland, numerous other curators and I published a 270-page album documenting the event.
Jiang Zhi, “Onward! Onward! Onward!”, video loop, 3 scenes, 2006, Photo. Kunsthalle Faust’s archive

Alicja Rekść

Ed Atkins is one of a kind. His oeuvre is condensed, multilayered, full of contradictions, and at the same time subject to a particular form. Atkins is a young British artist (born in 1982) who dreamed of being a painter. However, accidental experiments with animation and montage had led him somewhere else completely. Since a few years he consistently creates video animations starring an uncanny avatar, often identified by critics as the artist’s alter ego.
The Atkins’s world is a world technically flawlessly rendered, polished in many details, while still retaining artistic conventions. It’s a reality rife with exaggerated emotions, words whose meaning purposefully drifts away from simple messages and meticulously transforms into verses of poetry.
Musée d’Art de la Ville de Paris temporarily included in its’ collection “Happy Birthday!!!” (2014) – Ed Atkins’s permanent installation comprised of a large-scale monochromatic video. The artwork tells in a lyrical manner a story of withering away, or rather constructs it from carefully selected fragments that avoid literality.
Creating a virtual reality and writing are, as the artist admits, processes based on very similar rules. Everything is subject to a particular vision, narration made of specific elements. Thoughts expressed by words are converted to image that undergoes animation. Other media such as sculpture, performance, and especially poetry are reflected in Atkin’s works. It’s a trait characteristic to the artist enamoured of literature and it gives his works a surprisingly moving, sometimes almost tender quality.
Ed Atkins, “Happy Brithday!!!”, video installation, 2014, Musée d’Art de la Ville de Paris. Photo: A. Rekść

5 Between Tradition and Progress
Hanna Kostołowska

6 Last Days of Summer
Julia Korzycka

10 Forms of Light, Forms of Abstraction
Joanna Sitkowska-Bayle

14 Intimate Melancholy
Alicja Rekść

18 Where Paintings Shimmeringly Slapdash.
Rita Ackermann. Movements as Monuments
Julia Korzycka

22 Who Will Buy a Performance?
Selling Interactive Art
Alexandra Hołownia

24 A Profound Insight
Jerzy Olek

30 Manga
and Contemporary Japanese Artefact
Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska

34 “1984”
Piotr Wełmiński

40 Instead of Giving It a Break,
He Makes New Worlds Again
Marek S. Bochniarz

44 Spatial Games
in Aleksandra Simińska’s Paintings
Magdalena Durda-Dmitruk

46 Butō Dance
Masamichi Shibasaki

50 A Question About Picture
in Beata Białecka’s Oeuvre
Krzysztof Jurecki

56 Butō Dance.
History and Founders
Risa Takita

60 Hubris Hidden in a Shadow
Agnieszka Domańska

62 Fibonacci’s Meditations + Corduroy Rabbit | on Katarzyna Kobro (1898-1951)
Dorota Grubba-Thiede

68 Let the Matter Speak.
A Piece on Koji Kamoji’s
Retrospective Exhibition
Hanna Kostołowska

72 Battlefields.
Violence and Discipline
Daria Skok

76 Notes from Kyushu
Magdalena Durda-Dmitruk

78 Perfidy at Your Own Risk
Grzegorz Borkowski

81 Until Now
Harro Shmidt

84 Error404

86 Excess Syndrome
Jerzy Olek

92 About Different Art
and Different Biennale
Hanna Kostołowska
interviews Tomasz Wendland

104 The Dziekanka Atelier
– A Road to Freedom
Alexandra Hołownia

112 End of Boycott. 1980s.
Undescribed Decade – “War State”
Jacek Kasprzycki

120 “New Art Autonomies Forum”
Małgorzata Stępnik