What is happiness? How can you achieve it? Can you learn to be happy? Does (making) art make one happy? These questions are posed by curators at Viennafair 2013, which will feature an exhibition focusing on young Polish art, as part of the Vienna Duet project.
Launched in 2013, the Vienna Duet project will consist of two exhibitions, focusing on art from Poland and Georgia. The idea for this programme came from Vita Zaman and Christina Steinbrecher, the artistic directors of this year's edition of Viennafair and inventors of its main theme - The School of Happiness. Zaman explains her thoughts about this idea:
Happiness does not come automatically - it is not a gift; it depends on us alone. One does not become happy overnight, but with patient labour, day after day. [...] Happiness seems such a popular topic in everyday life and in lifestyle and everywhere, but such an unpopular theme to work with in the culture... so we’ve chosen it, and addressed different artists, philosophers, writers, and asked them what their idea of happiness is, how is it related to art, and their art production.
The artists in the Polish show are from the young generation, and mostly represented by galleries participating in the main part of the fair: BWA Warsaw, Czułość, Dawid Radziszewski Gallery, Raster Gallery, and the Berlin-based ŻAK | BRANICKA. Klara Czerniewska, the curator of the exhibition, has also invited artists unaffiliated with any venues. The purpose of this element of The School of Happiness is to not only put some of the exhibiting galleries in the limelight, but also to create a more intricate image of the new Polish art scene - it may thus act as a breather in the hustle and bustle of the stalls.
Tymek Borowski, Let the gold shine, banner, 2012/2013
The artworks in the show respond to the theme in a varied, entrancing way. Czerniewska has made sure to give a careful the image of happiness in the given context, but also to approach it with the necessary distance - one that is both analytical and emotional. She interprets the theme posed by Zaman and Steinbrecher:
One of the most important common characteristics of the artists participating in the show is that they are searching: for new ideas, forms, and means of expression, while at the same time they are constantly analyzing the self. Fighting with obstacles like Don Quixote, they get involved whole-heartedly in a first-person narrative. [...] Doing everything on their own, sometimes they ask naive questions or try to reinvent the wheel, but they still come up with something fresh and revealing.
Łukasz Jastrubczak has taken a sculpture of a Sleeping Cowboy on a journey across the world, touching on the subject of migrant seekers for better futures. Przemek Matecki, "the new bad boy of Polish art", as Zaman dubbed him, shows a moodboard of contemporary visual culture. Hubert Czerepok’s piece enchants us with the slogan appropriated from a Batman movie: "Madness is like gravity - all it takes is a little push."
In her video, Dominika Olszowy presents Poland as a cradle of future world civilization - a fate that awaits it after a series of cataclysms erase the current culture, while Maria Ewa Tobola’s Zoo video, made in a single shot, celebrates the uncanny, hedonism and liberation. Tymek Borowski, who may be said to have mastered the art of the already mentioned auto-reflection, engages the audience in a game of questioning one’s vocation, with both a high level of irony and deadly seriousness. His Let the Gold Shine is a graphic guide for evaluating or finding our vocation - by following a series of yes-or-no questions, which take us through the ups and downs of making a decision, one will eventually, regardless of the path, arrive at the conclusion: "You’re a lucky man!"
The Polish edition of Vienna Duets has been created with extensive support of the Polish Institute in Vienna.
Source: thenewcontemporary.com, ed. AM. 10.09.2013