The exhibition of the archive’s materials will open on the occasion of the Warsaw Foksal Gallery’s 50th anniversary. The archives show the gallery as a model arts space run as a collaboration between artists and critics. The exhibition in New York will include early exhibition catalogues, invitations, posters, and flyers, often designed by the artists themselves. Maquettes and designs for exhibitions are also featured, as well as a large amount of photographic documentation of performances, installations, and social gatherings at the gallery. In addition, sound and video recordings of early happenings and events will be presented. Its organisers write that:
The theoretical writings of the core critics who formed Foksal’s philosophical agenda, such as Wiesław Borowski, Hanna Ptaszkowska, Mariusz Tchorek, and Andrzej Turowski, were provocations towards rethinking how art could be presented. This exhibition pays homage to their work and theoretical rigor, which emphasized new artistic concepts that changed how art could be created and disseminated. These key texts form the enduring legacy of the Foksal Gallery.
Thoughts Isolated, the exhibition’s title, is an excerpt from a text entitled The Living Archives by Wiesław Borowski and Andrzej Turowski (1971), in which the artists-critics stated: ‘WE DO NOT PRESENT HISTORY BUT WE KEEP THOUGHTS ISOLATED.’ This notion captures Foksal's continued exploration of the role of the archive in the gallery’s programme. The archive as a recurring conceptual figure is also to be found in Tadeusz Kantor’s Panoramic Sea Happening (1967), during which a set of archival documents was submerged at sea; in Borowski and Turowski’s The Living Archives exhibition (1971), where the entire gallery was transformed into an information exchange for international conceptual art documents.
The Foksal Gallery Archive is presently housed in the same small gallery space in Warsaw in wooden boxes designed by the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko in the 1970s. Works presented in the gallery in the past by Zbigniew Gostomski, Maria Stangret, Tadeusz Kantor, Edward Krasiński, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Jarosław Kozłowski, and Stanisław Dróżdż are to be found there. Its organisers also write that:
It constitutes a singular collection of records which are of immense value in both artistic and historical terms and document fifty years of work within various political realities and in collaboration with a diversity of artists, from Henryk Stażewski, pioneer of Polish avant-garde, to an international roster of conceptual artists like Lawrence Weiner, Daniel Buren, Christian Boltanski, and Ben Vautier.
The exhibition will be accompanied by presentations and panel discussions about strategies and critical practice, the meaning of curatorial work, the art gallery as a model for a space for artistic experimentation (compared with New York galleries from the late 60s and early 70s), and the role of Tadeusz Kantor’s output.
Thoughts Isolated: The Foksal Gallery Archives, 1966-2016
Exhibition open: 19th November - 17th December 2016
The James Gallery
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue between 34th & 35th Streets
New York, NY 10016
Curators: Katherine Carl, Katarzyna Krysiak, David Senior
Sources: The Foksal Gallery, Culture.pl; written by AS, 14 Nov 2016; translated by BR, 16 Nov 2016.