Face Lifting

Opening: 9 April 2008

On view: 30 April 2008

Performance: Fiume TV (cz)

Exhibitioning artists: Wojtek Doroszik, Artur Garabowski, Ikoon Collective, Tomasz Kozak, Artur Malewski, Tomas Mróz, Marta Pszonak, Twozywo, Grupa Sedzia Glówny
Curated by: “4 young curators”group (Agata Chinowska, Anna Ciabach, Monika Weychert-Waluszko)

The Face Lifting exhibition attempts to bring us closer to a deeper understanding of how young Poles’ identity has formed over last few years. The  invited artists belong to the generation, whose formative years coincided with the time our country was undergoing a political transformation and who now enter this stage in life when they are mature enough to actively shape the social, economic and political reality they were born into. Therefore, questions of this generation’s self-awareness and of the context this awareness is shaped seem to be well-worth asking. In the contemporary world it is difficult to clearly define a person’s cultural affiliation. More and more often a sense of identity arises from auto-creation and individual choices of lifestyles and systems of values. According to Robert Jay Lifton: “We become fluid and multi-directional. Quite unaware of what we are doing, we create a sense of adjustment to the anxiety and the fluidity of time. This way of being radically different from what we were born to be enables us to be openly involved, explore new options and gather new personal experience.”

As children of the third culture, we belong to the global village, whose such virtual agorae as the Internet and television become the source of our knowledge and a major factor contributing to the growing sense of our identity. Among the most desirable features we seek for ourselves now are mobility, dynamism and flexibility. It is much easier for us than it was for our parents to make a decision to go abroad in search of new experiences, a new job and/or a better and more interesting life. It is mostly up to us now how we shape our sense of cultural or national identity. In order to survive in the contemporary world we have no other choice but to unceasingly reconcile what we inherit with what we face, what is in our blood with what we need to learn.
What we renounce returns most persistently, disturbing the desired image of ourselves. As far us we are concerned, what mostly thwarts our efforts to fulfil the common wish to belong to Western culture is our Slavic ‘ghosts’ of the past we have never really managed to exorcise. We are embarrassed by our adherence to our archaic values while admiring the pragmatism of the ‘modern’ part of Europe. The formation of our sense of identity is therefore largely an attempt to adjust to the model as we conceive it, to assimilate those elements we deem valuable and to dismiss those we consider expendable.
The idea of the Face Lifting exhibition sprung up from research on those phenomena. Face lifting is an operation involving stretching, pulling over and pulling up of the skin in order to remove wrinkles caused by ageing or facial movements. Wrinkles reflect the story of the face, the story of its tragedies, joys, sorrows, the story we erase in order to better fit into the environment, to successfully function in it and, finally, to win acceptance. As a country – a ‘parrot of other nations’ – we desire this acceptance more than anything in the world. Face lifting is like putting on a mask, a mask of freshness, which quite often becomes a caricature of youth. Does it really help us survive then? Is renouncing your historical heritage, cutting yourself off your roots a road to success or a fatal move? Will mental face lifting bring permanent and satisfying effects? Those dilemmas concern whole post-communist Europe; they are not Poland specific. Yet, we associate contacts with Slovaks, Bulgarians and Hungarians with the political situation of the past; acquaintances from Brussels or London are much more welcome. Stereotypically, post-communist countries used to be matched in friendship: Czechs-Slovaks, Bulgarians-Romanians, and Poles-Hungarians. The cliché saying: “A Pole and a Hungarian – two brothers’ sons” is now perceived as an old-fashioned fossilized language structure that has nothing to do with the present. What does a common Pole know about a common Hungarian? Not much. Nevertheless, this old stereotypical adage is quite often quoted and repeated. The Face Lifting exhibition might provoke us to start searching for similarities in attitudes in contemporary Poles and Hungarians within the context of the processes and social phenomena we are presently been subjected to.

Artists invited:
Grupa Sędzia Główny/ Main Judge Group

Performance art duo: Karolina Wiktor (b. 1979) and Aleksandra Kubiak (b. 1978). Both artists studied at the Arts Department of the University of Zielona Góra (Kubiak – Art Education; Wiktor – Painting), earning their diplomas in 2004. They have been working together since 2001. Activities of the Mainf Referee Group are mainly based on the formula of living sculpture or tableau vivant. Among other issues, their performances touch upon political problems, the patriarchal nature of culture, the question of gender roles and of woman as an object. Since 2004 the artists have been performing actions whose course is decided upon by the audience. In 2005 they appeared on a live TV Kultura Channel programme: Artists’ Night. In 2006 the duo performed an action called Virus, which ‘infected’ a performance of Maiden’s Vows at the Rozmaitości (Variety) Theatre in Warsaw. The artists also use multimedia as an integral part of their performances (Łódź Biennale 2006). In 2007 the Main Referee Group was nominated for a Deutsche Bank award.
Wojtek Doroszuk
Born in 1980, Doroszuk studied at the ASP Painting Department in Krakow. In 2005 he received a scholarship to work as a trainee at Sabanci University in Istanbul. In September 2006 he earned his diploma from the Interdisciplinary Studio run by Zbigniew Sałaja and Grzegorz Sztwiertnia. At present he works as a junior lecturer in the Studio. In the years of 2005-2006 he was a Polish Minister of Culture scholarship holder. So far he has had one individual exhibition: Subtitles at the F.A.I.T. Gallery in Krakow (2006). His works have been part of many collective exhibitions, including: Art in the Service of the Leftists (Kronika Gallery, Bytom); Die Vergänglichkeit des Schönen (Park of the Bridges, Town Hall, Goerlitz, Germany) Don’t Be Afraid! Religiousness and Sanctimoniousness (private flats, Warsaw), Foreign Languages, (BWA, Wrocław, 2006); The Very Centre of Attention [2] (CSW Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, 2005). In his works Doroszuk tackles the following issues: estrangement, barriers to human relations and linguistic limitations.
Artur Grabowski
Born in 1977, graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Krakow. He received his diploma with honours from the Media Activities Studio run by Professor Antoni Porczak and later from Universidad Castilla la Mancha w Cuenca (Spain). At present he works as a junior lecturer at the ASP Interdepartmental InterMedia Studio run by Professor Artur Tajber. He belongs among most highly regarded performance artists of the young generation. During the last eight years he has launched over a hundred actions, which were highly suggestive while revealing the artist’s good sense of humour and a flair for critical thinking. He has appeared at most important performance art festivals, theatre festivals and reviews of video art held in Poland and abroad, including those in Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico, Germany, France, Finland, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, the USA, Canada, China and Hungary. Garabowski and Anna Syczewska are working together as a duo of artists and curators called “Toothsystem” (www.toothsystem.asp.krakow.pl).
Ikoon Art
Ikoon (Bownik, Tomasz Cichowski, Łukasz Gronowski, Maja Kaszkur, Jacek Kołodziejski, Ania Łoskiewicz) is a collective of young artists, curators and critics mainly interested in new media art. They organise all kinds of cultural activities, exhibitions and cultural events. Ikoon’s various activities are targeted at finding a sense of identity that would secure its members their own place in the world of art. Ikoon is continuous workshop. The members experiment at various planes, collaborate with artist, curators, galleries, institutions and foundations. An update on their activities may be found at www.ikoon.art.pl.
Tomasz Kozak
Born in 1971, graduate of Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts Department of Painting and Cartoons. He received his diploma in 1997. Kozak engages in painting, makes cartoons, video art, collages and sculptures. He lives and works in Lublin. The most characteristic technique he uses while creating his video art pieces is ‘found footage’, which uses film sequences made by other film directors to create a story. According to the artist, this technique enables him to deconstruct and revise contemporary myths. One of the most important features of his works of art is a certain inter/text quality. In principle the artist ‘copies’ literature in his projects simultaneously incorporating it in the structure of his works. He perversely interprets works of such a variety of writers as Sienkiewicz, de Sade, Jünger, Borowski, Benjamin and Miciński. Text appears not only in his paintings (as slogans that find their way into the pictures or essay-like commentaries accompanying the paintings) but in his films as well.
Artur Malewski
Born in 1975, graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Łódź. His main artistic interests include performance art, film-making and sculpture. He draws his inspiration from pop culture, evoking emotions through art and the hybrid-like quality of form. He uses horror and New Age themes and, following the spirit of cultural anthropology, he takes interest in ancient beliefs and traditions,. His works are tinged with black humour.
Tomasz Mróz
Born in 1979, graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) Department of Graphic Arts. Creator of silicon sculptures and video installations. His works bring back to life caricature and the grotesque, genres forgotten by young Polish artists. Against the backdrop of contemporary trends in art, works by Mróz amaze at how he manages to create a “different” space, which is a different world; unlike transparent and cool works of ‘realists’, his are deformed and wild. For the unfettered imagination of the artist the reality of the daily routine is just a starting point.
Marta Pszonak
Marta Pszonak (b. 1978) studied Visual Arts Education at Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź in the years 1998-2003. Her artistic interests include sculpting and intermedia arts. At the 19th Władysław Strzemiński Competition held in 2002 she received an award founded by the Municipal Art Gallery in Łódź.
Twożywo
The Twożywo Group was set up in 1995 by three artists then: Krzysztof Sidorek, Mariusz Libel and Robert Czajka, the two former still being part of the group. Since its foundation the group have been interested in public space as a plane for potential social interaction. The techniques and the media they use are targeted at passers-by, Internet surfers, generally, at random persons moving physically or virtually through transport and information networks. The several dozen stickers that they have made so far, each in a circulation of several thousand, are issued in many Polish cities and towns. Similarly, they display posters, templates and murals outdoors around towns. At present they are using and searching for new media techniques. Their NetArt works as well as their pro-system activities done within the framework of the Kapitan Europa Project (www.kapitan.pl) may serve as good examples illustrating their search for new ways of artistic expression. Twożywo complete file and their Internet projects can be accessed at www. twozywo.art.pl. Additionally, they engage in curator activities, including An Alternative for Drugs (a NetArt project 2002 – www.twozywo.art.pl/A DN); Evil is for the Masses (a NetArt project 2003 – www.twozywo.art.pl/Z LO/); and selection and coordination of the European Billboard Festival BillboartR; in Poland, 2003.
Grupa Sędzia Główny/ Main Judge Group
Performance art duo: Karolina Wiktor (b. 1979) and Aleksandra Kubiak (b. 1978). Both artists studied at the Arts Department of the University of Zielona Góra (Kubiak – Art Education; Wiktor – Painting), earning their diplomas in 2004. They have been working together since 2001. Activities of the Mainf Referee Group are mainly based on the formula of living sculpture or tableau vivant. Among other issues, their performances touch upon political problems, the patriarchal nature of culture, the question of gender roles and of woman as an object. Since 2004 the artists have been performing actions whose course is decided upon by the audience. In 2005 they appeared on a live TV Kultura Channel programme: Artists’ Night. In 2006 the duo performed an action called Virus, which ‘infected’ a performance of Maiden’s Vows at the Rozmaitości (Variety) Theatre in Warsaw. The artists also use multimedia as an integral part of their performances (Łódź Biennale 2006). In 2007 the Main Referee Group was nominated for a Deutsche Bank award.