Logo The Directory of Artists Banner
Partner1
Partner2
Partner4
Partner5
Partner7
Partner2
Partner6
Partner5






Follow LivingGallery on Twitter

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Art in diversity

Agnieszka Szablikowska, 2015-03-13

The Month of Performance Art was an experiment which, for the first time in Kalisz art history, confronted the local community with ephemeral art. This challenge was undertaken by the curator of the event - Małgorzata Kaźmierczak - the director of the City Art Gallery of Kalisz. The four performers invited drew their audience into different artistic worlds, yet sharing certain common elements.

The first event was a performance by a Warsaw artist Paweł Kwaśniewski. The artist, who is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his artistic creativity, opened his action with a story of his connection with Kalisz.

“It was a cold August not too long ago,” said the artist rubbing more and more ice into his hands as the sense of anxiety was compounded by the cracking of the falling ice. Then suddenly came a storm - rustling foil became a boundary between the present and the past. As the action was developing, the words were becoming louder and louder, echoing themselves and intertwining in mantric reiterations. The dripping of spilt milk enhanced the oppressive aura of fog and frost.

Once we become aware that “it was August and it was cold,” we are also informed that there was a ball. The simultaneously overlapping images of play were interlaced with those of war, famine, soldiers, and people marching with all their belongings in one bag, and they all seemed as authentic as a factual film. The projected scenes were real, and the story was interweaving with memories. This multidimensional performance worked through its universal message, independent of the spectators’ familiarity with the history of the city destroyed and almost completely depopulated just a hundred years before. The narration used by the artist made the story seem like it could be part of our experience, part of the spectators’ everyday life. We could feel that it was like to dance innocently at the ball, denying the consciousness of war taking place and bombs falling not too far away.

In spite of all its visual attractiveness, Kwaśniewski’s performance leaves the spectator with some disturbing sense of uneasiness, as the artist eventually engages in an act of self-injury by banging his head against the wall. He is the one experiencing the pain while the spectators can only be passive observers of his struggle. Once the action is finished, all that is left is the spilt milk and a small ceramic angel, almost lost in the crowd of spectators slowly coming back to their lives.

The next Wednesday performance, authored by Omar Ghayatt - a Swiss artist of Egyptian origin, was completely different.

In his actions Ghayatt draws from his artistic education in Egypt along with his Zurich experience of scenography studies. In the Tarasin gallery he portrayed a theatre director holding an audition both as the director and the actor of the performance. By referring to a simple universal story of marriage, love, and infidelity, Ghayatt created a situation in which some of the spectators became performers taking up the roles imposed on them by the artist. The spectators found themselves in different situations - starting from that of a jury at the audition, a jaded wife and a lover, to that of a betrayed husband. Ghayatt was trying to control the events throughout the action, especially while engaging the participants into the scenes of love and violence. The situation thus referred to the social experiments testing the extent to which we tend to identify with the roles imposed on us, what we can do within a given convention, and how deeply rooted our stereotypes are. At the end each of the participants received payment from the artist who thus fulfilled his chosen convention while leaving the audience with questions about the boundary between creation and reality.

This edition of the Month of Performance Art also included a film show. The evening was taken over by three women: a Finnish performer Irma Optimisti with her poetic and aesthetic performance entitled “Singular System” and the protagonists and authors of the film Breaking the Frame: Carolee Schneemann and Mariella Nitosławska

Despite the Scandinavian dimness and melancholy, Irma “the Optiminist” used energetic red roses in her action, juxtaposing them with achromatic whiteness and black props. The artist, who works as a mathematics lecturer, uses performance as a medium for re-interpreting mathematical theories by translating them into the symbolic language of art.

The action was based on alternating theses and antitheses. Black was turning into white, and white into nothingness. The artist’s bare feet were sliding over paper creating abstract images, while the blood-red roses, like aspergillums, were used as brushes splashing water. Paper was turned into a three-dimensional wreath bearing marks of all previous gestures. What seemed like heavy stone objects turned out to be light pieces of paper pegged out by the artist on a washing line. The following fragments of the action were complementing each other by creating both abstract visual situations and playing on the stereotypes of femininity.

The problem of stereotypes, especially those concerning the female body, is also one of the dominant subjects of Carolee Scheneeman’s work. Breaking the Frame, shot for a few years by Mariella Nitosławska who was exploring the artist’s life, draws the spectator into an incredible realm of the artist’s memories and correspondences. This New York-based artist was one of the first performers in the world to create some sort of living images using her own body. What was important in her artistic work was the role of nude as an act of protest against the conventionalised approach to the so called “female art.” It was as early as in the sixties and seventies that she created some of the most important works for both modern art and the artistic emancipation of women, such as Meat Joy and Interior Scroll - an intimate performance arguing with the masculinist perception of female art. This oneiric film portrait gave us an insight into the context of the creation of those works and many others, as well as the blurry boundaries between art and life through the artist’s relations with her family and men.

The final strong note of the performance month was Jeffery Byrd’s Bleeding Heart in which the artist was building symbolic relations between space, sound, and movement in an action that also had its aesthetic and symbolic dimension. This American artist opened his action standing in a corner of the room with his back to the audience, his body becoming a reference to the architecture of the gallery. Although the performer avoided eye contact with the spectators throughout most of his action, his presence seemed to fill the space with sound and movement. He started with a sort of a concert playing on a vibrating instrument and singing lamentingly. Later, using such props as a long red ribbon that he wrapped around his head and a metal curtain rod he was creating abstract figures, sometimes looking like a dancing puppet rather than a human being. The performance thus acquired certain ritualistic or sacramental characteristics, but at the same time was not deprived of a certain dose of humour. At the end Byrds painted a red mark on his heart and played his strange musical instrument, thus rounding off his performance and leaving the audience with reflections about struggling with imposed norms and shaking off one’s shackles.

Confronting new spectators with ephemeral art is never easy. The Month of Performance Art in Kalisz let the spectators experience diverse forms of art coming from different cultural and artistic backgrounds. Such diversity of actions did not, however, exclude some points in common, while arranging them into series. Paweł Kwaśniewski’s performance was poetically connected with Irma Optimisti’s action whose elaborated aesthetics of forms and colours was, in turn, linked to Jeffery Byrd’s work. What one could find in Byrd’s action, on the other hand, was the pinch of self-mockery and positive emotions which domineered Omar Ghayatt’s work.

Yet it was mostly the elaborated choice of renowned artists which connected all the actions, and the physical presence of the artists, so essential for performance art, which found its completion in the presence of Kalisz spectators who turned out to be exceptionally open to those ephemeral artistic situations.

<<< back

Print

Partner1
Partner4
Partner4
Partner4