Poland's Pavilion at Performa 2013
#photography & visual arts
no-image, Poland's Pavilion at Performa 2013
New York City’s distinct cultural pockets were activated during the 2013 Performa Festival that included Poland’s Pavilion Without Walls, taking art out of the traditional museum setting, and using the city as inspiration and performance platform: Ela Bittencourt reviews .
Widok z baru Biba, fot. Paweł Althamer, dzięki uprzejmości Fundacji Galerii Foksal
New York City’s distinct cultural pockets were activated during the 2013 Performa Festival that included Poland’s Pavilion Without Walls, taking art out of the traditional museum setting, and using the city as inspiration and performance platform: Ela Bittencourt reviews.
New York City’s distinct cultural pockets were activated during the 2013 Performa Festival that included Poland’s Pavilion Without Walls, taking art out of the traditional museum setting, and using the city as inspiration and performance platform. Polish artist Pawel Althamer, known for community-based art in Poland, chose Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, intrigued by the area’s deep Polish and Jewish roots. Althamer’s project, however, did much more than speak to the past in a rapidly changing area, where traditional immigrant families have given way to artists and then to real-estate developers. Through communal art, Althamer and collaborators, including Althamer’s family and American artist Noah Fischer, invited local residents to drawing, performances, and meals at Biba Bar, culminating in a completion of a 50-foot long, steel and mixed media statue, “The Queen Mother of Reality,” erected on the waterfront. The eponymous Queen Mother, Dr. Louis Blakely, known for her work against evictions, commemorated the statue of a reposing female, in a ritual that spoke to the city’s jarring contrasts, between the powerless and the powerful, the disenfranchised and the wealthy elites.
Instalacja Katarzyny Krakowiak "Making the walls quake as if they were dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers" w Pawilonie Polskim na 13. Międzynarodowym Biennale Architektury w Wenecji, 2012
A different kind of re-claiming of public space was done by Katarzyna Krakowiak, who staged an audio installation in the back hallways of the Central Post Office on 34th Street, scheduled to become a train station. Krakowiak had researched the history of the building, whose vast space is now largely unused, but still contains functioning machinery. Krakowiak saw the building’s imposing façade as a metaphor for the Untied State’s insistence on the status quo, while its economy crumbled. The installation, with speakers hanging along the hallway, replaying the sounds of automated mail machines—an intricate system that serves no purpose—resulted in a haunted, contemplative walk. Meanwhile, in the main room, where mail is still being handled, customers drifted in and out, largely unaware of the hollowed echoes and mechanical murmurs that reverberated throughout the space.
Akademia Ruchu "Chińska lekcja", fot. materiały prasowe
Among the festival’s highlights, the renowned performance group, Academy of Movement (Akademia Ruchu), staged a series of performances and talks. First of these was a presentation at The Graduate Center, CUNY, of “Chinese Lesson,” a performance composed of five to ten minute movement pieces that drew on the group’s forty-year practice. The Academy’s five members engage in a critical examination of language, and stage performances on the borderline of political action and routine daily gestures. At a lecture at Performa’s Hub, the group’s founding member, Wojciech Krukowski, presented archival slides contextualizing the group’s current work against its initial efforts to circumvent the censorship in communist Poland in 1973, by taking the work into the public space, where it could not be easily controlled. The Academy staged its final act in Times Square, known for its visual glut of billboards, with thousands of tourists and shoppers strolling under gigantic neon lights. In one action, the group members, wearing yellow jackets with “The Observer” written on their backs, stood motionless as the crowds rippled through: a gesture of catching life in its senseless swing, inserting a visual marker that questioned both the intentions of the passersby, turning them into an attraction, and the act of observation itself, in a place that’s a symbol of not only commercialized art, but of looking as a thoughtless instant, or a camera flash.
Ela Bittencourt, November 2013