Norbert Delman is a sculptor, performer, and exhibition curator who creates videos, installations, and graphics. He was born on 6th June 1989 in Warsaw, where he currently lives and works.
Between 2008 and 2014 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where he defended his diploma in the Studio of Spacial Activities led by Mirosław Bałka. In 2012 he studied at University College Falmouth in United Kingdom. Beside realising projects in the field of art, he also works as curator of experimental exhibitions. In 2016 in Warsaw he co-founded, together with Franciszek Buchner, Agnieszka Delman, and Jan Słoniewski the Stroboskop Art Space exhibition space.
He participated in residential programmes such as InterModem in CCA in Debreczyn, Hungary (2011), RSA/ESW in Edinburgh, Scotland (2014), WRSW|BRLN (2016) and was awarded a scholarship fro the Pofmolish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Initially Delman was also involved in sport in sport. He worked as a pool attendant and acrobat, which is why he frequently refers to sport activities and uses the rules of team sports in his artistic practice. Fighting, games, and competition are recurring topics of his works.
When he was still a student he made the work Clara, which discussed the ambitions of artists. On a gallery wall the artist hung a phone through which a woman’s voice said what each artist wishes to hear – she reviewed a piece of art, getting more and more ecstatic about it.
In his diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw he tackled problems of competition and tense relations between artists. He organised an original battleship game in which the ships were replaced with the actual people. In two rooms, Delman put groups of anonymous and masked people, who took turns shooting at each other, exclaiming the coordinates of the adversary. A person that was shot had to take off their balaclava and the artist announced his or her name out loud. ‘You would be able to discover who is your friend and who is your enemy only when you are eliminated’, the artist continued.
The juxtaposition of similar mechanism functioning in the field of art and that of sport can be also seen in the work S/S/S – Sweat / Suffer / Success realised during Delman’s residence at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Scotland in 2014. There, the artist organised a three-month long happening – a bodybuilder’s workout. In order to shape his body, Delman went on a strict diet, following an intense training schedule at the same time. By this work, the artist seemed to ask: what is more motivating – the desire to succeed or the fear of failure?
In a conversation with Alek Hudzik the artist admitted:
When I noticed the first results of my diet, I didn’t feel better at all – quite the opposite. I realised that there was no room for a feeling of success, as the results were always below the expectation. You lose 10 kilograms, even if you aimed to lose 5 kilos initially, but in the meantime you’ve started thinking that what you originally wanted was to lose 15 kilos. If you stop, there is a regression, every moment you don’t follow the rules, you feel guilty. I had to do it 100 per cent and still, I had the impression that I was not going to succeed. The absence of success is the project’s punchline – you can only fail.
In 2015 during the exhibition in BWA in Zielona Góra artist put on the performance Sparring, during which he punched a bag with the inscription 'you are always the second'. The work makes reference to a well-known tennis saying that ‘you can never win against a wall’, which reminds of unavoidable failure. The artist suggested that the thing that motivates people the most is not the will to succeed, but the fear of failure. The moment when obsession meets ambition and rivalry meets fear is the key area of Delman’s investigations.
Delman also works as a curator of experimental projects. In 2014 in Nowy Teatr in Warsaw, together with Marta Królak, Tymon Nogalski and Agnieszka Warakomska, he organised an exhibition, Nie Ma Ziewania [editor’s transition: No Yawning]. The project was a reaction to a common saying, ‘I could do it better’. The works presented at the exhibition could be freely changed by other young artists participating in the project – as a result the exhibition evolved, and each day the opening of a new exhibition took place.
In 2015 the artist organised a mobile exhibition, WY 3208G, together with Klara Czerniewska. The show was arranged in his car and moved around the streets of Warsaw, and ultimately stopped under Trasa Łazienkowska, one of the main streets in the centre of Warsaw. WY 3208G included works of artists such as Agata Endo Nowicka, Witek Orski, Cezary Poniatowski and Radek Szlaga.
In 2016 together with Franciszk Buchner, Agnieszka Delmand and Jan Słoniewski, Delman co-founded the exhibition space Stroboskop Art Space, located at 6 Siewierska Street in Warsaw. The initiative aims to cooperate with young artists, but they don’t exclude the possibility to work with artists who are has been already recognised on the national and international art scene.
We are an OFFspace that is not afraid of radical experiments and aims at bridging the gap visible at our art scene which is dominated by the policies of galleries and institutions.
Delman’s works have been presented in CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art in Debreczyn, Edinbourgh Sculpture Workshop in Edinburgh, MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, BWA in Zielona Góra, Labirynt Gallery in Lublin, Arsenał Gallery in Białymstok, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Sculpture Park in Bródno and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, among others.
Artist’s website: www.norbertdelman.com
Sources: beczmiana.pl, nowyteatr.org, stroboskop-space.pl.
Compiled by Agnieszka Sural, 31 March 2017. Translated by NC, July 2017.
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