Poland's Global Art Invasion 2014
Polish culture goes on tour in Turkey, takes on the Sao Paulo and Sydney Biennials, plus Szapocznikow's fleshy sculptures come alive in Tel Aviv - Culture.pl reviews the biggest art events to come in 2014
By 2014, the Biennial format has made its home across most of the world's continents. The 31st edition of the São Paulo Biennial is one of the most prestigious and most historic art events in South America - and the oldest, second only to the Venice Biennial. This year in Brazil, works by the neo-avant-garde artist Edward Krasiński are among the highlights of the event (2.09-7.12). The artist's creative attitude towards reality, expressed through "life in art" and an individual approach to surrealism, worked to undermine and challenge the traditional forms of art and its meanings.
The Manifesta travelling show takes place in Saint Petersburg this year, its tenth edition hosted by the Hermitage Museum. Among the artists on show are Paweł Althamer and Cezary Bodzianowski - both artists who use the scope of visual arts to convey messages about social behaviour and the uncanny in the everyday. Bodzianowski is also a guest of the 10th edition of the Gwangju Biennial in Korea (5.09-9.11).The biggest art event in the Asia-Pacific region is the Sydney Biennial (21.03-9.06). The theme of the 19th edition is "You Imagine What You Desire", spotlighting works by innovative artists who challenge the status quo of accepted reality, such as Hubert Czerepok, Agnieszka Kalinowska and Norman Leto. Czerepok presents his performance piece Let's Change it All, with kids protesting their right to longer holidays and free ice cream. Polska is showing her video How the Work is Done, a re-enactment of a strike led by students of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków as they locked themselves in the ceramics workshop for ten days and transformed the everyday activities of artists into an act of protest. Agnieszka Polska was meant to participate in the Sydney Biennial, but has withdrawn in protest of the event 's sponsoring by Transfield, an Australian company which manages mandatory detention centres .
Year of Polish Culture in Turkey
In 2014, Polish artists are taking over Turkey, with numerous exhibitions and events celebrating 600 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations. The showcase is being put together by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, incidentally named for the famous Polish poet who died in Istanbul in 1855.
The enigmatic international art collective (founded in part by a Pole) Slavs and Tatars are among the artists featured at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art as part of the Neighbours – Contemporary Narratives from Turkey and Beyond exhibition, with their latest installation Nose Twister. Following in the vein of their previous works, they take a hybrid approach to the intersection between traditional and popular culture, east and west. Other exhibitions will be held at the Sabanci Museum and Pera Museum in Istanbul, as well as Ankar, Ismir and Bursa.
Read more about the exhibition at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: Slavs and Tatars at Istanbul Modern
New in New York
Following their success at last year's Performa, Polish artists are back in New York with several fresh new exhibitions. The New Museum is hosting a retrospective of works by Paweł Althamer, put together by Massimiliano Gioni – curator of the Venice Biennial in 2013. The Neighbors presents the past two decades of the artist's creative life, along with new live performances in which the artist invites locals to participate in his Draughtsman's Congress (previously held at the Berlin Biennial), which encourages traditional illustration techniques as a means to convey contemporary thoughts and opinions (12.02-20.04). The New Museum is also hosting a collective show titled Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, featuring the works of Poland's legendary performance artists KwieKulik, Paweł Freisler and Krzysztof Zarębski (22.01-13.04).
In March, The Jewish Museum hosts a show of works by Edward Krasiński as part of the exhibition Other Primary Structures (14.03-3.08). It goes back in time to 1966, when the very same museum hosted a show that later became known as the first official exhibition of Minimal Art. Private galleries are also taking note of today's generation of Polish artists, with Honza Zamojski's Fishing with John project featured at the Andrew Kreps gallery (17.01-15.02). Monika Sosnowska, whose latest work is currently on show at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, will have a private show in the autumn at Hauser&Wirth.
Jumping in Paris
The Palais de Tokyo's "L'État du Ciel" series puts Angelika Markul in the spotlight with her Bambi in Chernobyl video-art as part of the Terre de départ group show (14.02-07.09). A work-in-progress, it is set in the so-called Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a closed area around the disabled nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine where animal and plant life has proliferated since the nuclear catastrophe there in 1986. Nature has regenerated and sprung back to life, free of human intervention.
The venue also hosts a new edition of the installation presented by Agnieszka Kurant and Aleksandra Wasilkowska at the Venice Biennial in 2010 this spring. With Emergency Exit, the artists create a new type of urban activity, a fictional sport which uses using architecture as a launch pad for daring jumps among the clouds.
The Progress Gallery hosts Kama Sokolnicka's Troubles du sommeil (23.01-15.03), a selection of recent works which refer to the disturbances and dissonances that interfere with a good night's sleep, simultaneously the fruit of the artist's creative tendencies - which tend to come alive after dark. The gallery is also showing a selection of video works by Agnieszka Brzeżańska and Agnieszka Kalinowska (16.01), both of whom use widely accessible "democratic" media to record enigmatic, timely snapshots of contemporary life.
Just outside Paris, in the Maison de la Photographie in Lille (6.02-1.03), visitors can survey Nicolas Grospierre's Oval Offices, among the most intriguing projects of the past year. The Polish-French photographer set out across the U.S. to capture Oval Offices around the country, creating a series that subtly underscores the performative aspects of power in architecture and design - and the process of replicating such structures of presidential authority.
Heavy in London
Following his highly successful show at the Tate Modern in 2012, Mirosław Bałka returns to London with two exhibitions - at the White Cube Mason's Yard (beginning 20.03) and Freud Museum (beginning 18.03). The works of Edward Krasiński continue their world tour at the group show Play What's Not There at Raven Row znajdą się prace. Paweł Althamer joins an international group of artists at the Hayward Gallery's show titled The Human Factor. Uses of the Figure in Contemporary Sculpture (10.06-31.08).
Wilhelm Sasnal heads futher west to Ireland for a solo show at the Lismore Castle Arts (18.04-21.09). Take Me to the Other Side recoups the artist's knack for twisting traditional modes of art to address contemporary issues in a timeless way. His latest works take the fairy tales of Andersen to create new paintings, illustrations and video art.
Along the rivers of the world
Polish art heads eastwards, with a solo exhibition of works by one of Poland's most talented contemporary sculptors (incidentally, one of Israeli heritage) - Alina Szapocznikow at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (7.02-31.05) . Body Traces presents a selection of works that relate to the artist's personal battle with a deadly disease and the way the battleground of the body is projected in her art. The show follows on a broad revival of interest in Szapocznikow over the past few years, with exhibitions at major institutions across the world.
Controversial artist Zbigniew Libera joins forces with Israel's Roee Rosen, the fruits of which will be presented at the Labirynt Gallery in Lublin. This year the artist also presents his much-anticipated feature film debut, titled Walser. The science fiction flick takes place in the future, in a world where bearing children is no longer a possibility. An ageing society is faced with the reality of only having resources to help those individuals who have reached a maximum of biological and intellectual development.
In New Delhi, daring performance artist Katarzyna Kozyra joins a group show of artists as part of the Insert project put together by the Raqs Media Collective and focusing on politics and social issues in India against a global backdrop. In Dubai, Slavs & Tatars present the show Language Arts at The Third Line (17.03-17.04). Aside from presenting their whimsical tongue twisters, the international collective will also be headlining as curators at this year's Art Dubai: Marker 2014 art fair. In cooperation with the Museum of Art in Łódź , the National Museum of China in Beijing presents a show of works by Maurycy Gottlieb as part of the State of Life exhibition.
Last year Konrad Smoleński invaded the 55th Venice Biennale with his raucous sound art. This year he is showing his sonic stuff at the Kunsthalle Winterthur (15.06-27.07), while his Venice installation lives on as it travels to Switzerland's Centre PasquArt along the Lake Bienne (beginning 06.07). He's also joining a fine roster of artists including Massimo Bartolini, Lothar Baumgarten, Benjamin Binder, Katie Callan, Tamara Grcic, Mark Leckey, Nomadic Sound System / Ben Newland, Nik Nowak, Tintin Patrone, Aura Satz and Wolfgang Tillmans for an exhibition dedicated to the worldwide phenomenon of mobile sound systems. Booster Art Sound Machine takes place at the Marta Herford Museum in Germany (15.02-01.06).
Trauma and memory
The subject of the Holocaust is still one that's very much alive in the works of many Polish and international artists, and institutions. This year the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Denmark is presenting Black Milk – Holocaust in Contemporary Art (18.01-27.04) . Among the artists on show are Zbigniew Libera, Mirosław Bałka, Piotr Uklański and Artur Żmijewski, with very poignant works of art that carry forward the harsh legacy of this great tragedy of the 20th century.
Żmijewski is also a guest at World in Collision at the Adalaide Festival in Australia (27.02-6.04), Lulea Konsthalle in Sweden (8.03-13.04) and at 1814 Revisted – The Past is still Present at the Akershus Kunstsenter in Norway's Lillestron (10.05-14.09).
On the up and up
America Is Not Ready For This is a video piece by Karol Radziszewski that traces the steps of pioneering contemporary artist Natalia LL during her stint in New York in the 1970s. It will be shown at the FUTURA contemporary art museum in Prague (beginning 21.01). Radziszewski is also taking part in the group show The Emperor's New Apparel at Karlin Studios in Prague, presenting Fag Fighters - a fantasy of a violent gang of young gay men - recognisable by their pink balaclavas knitted by their grannies (15.01-09.02).
Among the latest discoveries on the art scene is Mateusz Szczypiński, a young painter whose style combines painting and collage art. The Parrotta Contemporary Art Gallery in Stuttgart presents a show of his works as part of Somewhere Between (24.01-8.03).
The Book Lovers is a research project that has been travelling the world in recent months. This year it will visit Amsterdam and Barcelona, with its broad message of how literature can serve as a tool for creating expanded narratives in the visual arts. Holland's De Appel Arts Centre invites Cricoteka's curator Joanna Zielińska and Spanish artist David Maroto to launch the first bookshop of works written by artists - full-length novels that follow the conventions of literary writing, but interpreted through the mind of a visual artist. (28.01-2.02).
The glory days of revolution in the 1960s and '70s are revived in Stockholm with the Decade of Revolt exhibition at the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern(8.03-18.05). It presents works by artists who were an integral part of the revolutionary spirit of the times, such as Marina Abramovic, Valie Export, Joseph Beuys, Zofia Kulik, Bruce Nauman and Ryszard Waśko.
Author: Agnieszka Sural, 14.01.2014. Translated (with edits) by Agnes Monod-Gayraud