Video and installation artist whose works combine photography, film, installation and performance to make a ironic and paradoxical statement on the world around us. Born 1971 in Warsaw.
A video and installation artist whose works combine photography, film, installation and performance to make a ironic and paradoxical statement on the world around us.
Kuba Bąkowski, Installation With Red Compressor And Latex Gloves, 2007, Courtesy of the artist
In Bąkowski's works relics of contemporary culture are transposed to the status of myth, drawing from the realm of sports, religion, nature, communications and outer space. A graduate of the Department of Multimedia Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, his focus is in great measure based on the nature of mass media and broadcasting. For example, in 2004 he broadcast his TV Zero Zones video project live on air on the Polish TVP2 public television station. He used the typical test card the station had been using for 40 years and added video animations of a man moving around the coloured block, bringing some action to the static image. It took a well-known characteristic of public television and interfered in its structure to provide viewers with an entirely new experience if they found themselves watching the test-card late at night.
Other projects focused on outer space and the stars, such as the 2011 Zeran Star project. It involved the artist connecting two abandoned towers of the bank of the Zerański Canal (a tributary of the Vistula River in Warsaw) with 250 meters of steel cable and climbing 25 meters over the river to shine a point of light in the night sky. An astronomer from Warsaw University was consulted to calculate the coordinates of the artificial star. The action was documented by the Two Towers Team.
In 2008 he did a study for a film inspired by the legendary LC Bates Museum of Natural History in Maine, USA, where stuffed animals are juxtaposed with the busts of prominent intellectuals throughout history. The effect is the collection of a madman-traveler. Bąkowski's Studies in Natural History compares the idea of a museum as a collection of discoveries to that of a accumulation of strange and unrelated relics. He enters into a game with the exhibition, carrying on an unexpected dialogue about the nature of museums, collecting and souvenirs of the world beyond civilisation.
In the summer of 2009 the artist joined the scientific expedition to the polar station Hornsund in Spitsbergen and organised by the Geophysical Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). There he got to work on his Polaris project, the effect of which was a performance and photo session of the artist in a polar bear costume, done in tribute to the bear's natural habitat and his vanishing presence in the region.
In 2011 he set modified 3 Piko HO model trains on tracks set between the pipes and cables throughout the Arsenał Municipal Gallery in Poznań and the following year presented a similar project at the Bill Scott Sculpture centre in Edinburgh. Live wireless video feed of the train's journey is streamed to monitors within the visitor space on the centre, along with a wider picture of the scene from stationary monitors. The project is based on finding the interaction between scale and the synthesis between architecture, movement, sculpture, installation and multimedia.
One of Bąkowski's most recognisable works, by virtue at least of the impossibility of ignoring its blatant sound and visuals, is 2008's Well Where Are We? An installation with 2 channel sound, the artist has created sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and The Incredible Hulk out of basic industrial materials, providing them with a soundtrack that gives the impression that the two are in conversation with each other, Lincoln asking "Well, where are we ???" To which the Hulk answers " The question is not so much where we are as when we are...".
Materials are a big part of Bąkowski's artistic practice, the artist experimenting with all sorts of tools, from amplifiers and speakers to styrofoam, epoxy resins and rubber. His 2006 sculpture A Boy and his Dog is eerily realistic, depicting a boy that appears both human and yet not at all human, is part of the artist's fascination with alienation that nonetheless always bears a personal element. A common aim for the artist is the exploration of one of the main elements of human's spirituality and global culture: the need to cross mental, space and time restrictions, determining the extend and possibilities of perception and experience. This process appears through the constant challenging of the status quo in anticipating reality and its never-ending re-definition.
He is the first artist to be selected for the Royal Scottish Academy International Residency programme. The project is funded by the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in collaboration with the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. He has shown his works in both solo and group exhibitions at the Zachęta National Gallery and Zamek Ujazdowski Centre of Contemporary Art in Warsaw. He has also taken part in group exhibitions at Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna, Museé d’Art Moderne in Saint-Etienne, Artspace Sydney, National Centre of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, and Chelsea Art Museum in New York. Today he lives and works in Warsaw. He is represented by the Scaramouche Gallery in New York.
Author: Agnieszka Le Nart
Selected solo exhibitions:
There and Back Again, Bill Scott Sculpture Centre, Edinburgh
Magnetic, Municipal Gallery Arsenal, Poznań
Polaris, Bec Zmiana Fundation, Warsaw
Studies in Natural History, Scaramouche co Fruit & Flower Deli Gallery, New York City
Study for the Movie in Museum of Natural History, Entropia Gallery, Wroclaw
Powerful, Zacheta National Gallery of Art / Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw
Nothing More Happens Than Has To Happen, Center of Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw
Nothing More Happens Than Has To Happen, Location One, New York City
Air Sculptures And Other Flying Objects, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok
Currently In The Sky, Mole Vanvitelliana, Ancona, Italy
Tu bylem, Bakowski... Street Stickers in the Wuyishan Mountains, project in the Wuyishan Mountains, China
Light One In Ether, Daniele Ugolini Contemporary, Florence, Italy
Air Sculptures And Other Flying Objects, Center of Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw,
Museum of Earth on 433 Eros, 22th edition of 3500 cm2 - poster project for Rialto Santambrogio, Roma
TV Zero Zones, television video project broadcasted on the air of Polish Public Television TVP 2
A Pole And What's More Heavier Than Air, Galleria PL/Istituto Polacco, Rome
Light in Ether, Potocka Gallery, Kraków, 2002
Selected group exhibitions
No, No, I Hardly Ever Miss a Show, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, 2011
Nothing is Eternally Important, CoCA Centre of Contemporary Art, Torun
Camera Vivant - Central Utah Art Center, Ephraim, Utah
A Part of No-Part: Parallelisms Between Then and Now - CAM - Chelsea Art Museum, New York City,
All Creatures Great and Small, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
My Space. What Public Does Mean, PAN - Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, Naples
The Influence of Fish Tales on the Breaking Waves, Point B, Brooklyn, New York City
3500cm2 - Art Poster Project, Uqbar, Berlin
Beyond Future, Mejan Labs, Stockholm
The Red Eye Effect. Polish Photography in the 21-st Century, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
Concrete Legacy. From Le Corbusier to The Homeboys, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw
Polish Painting of the 21st Century, Zacheta - National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland
Lessico Europeo, Festival Fabbrica Europa 2007, Stazione Leopolda Florence, Italy
3500cm2 - Art Poster Project, Assab One, Milan,
At the Very Centre of Attention. Part 3, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland
Egoistic, Immoral, Outmoded, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland
Under the white-and-red flag. New Art from Poland, Contemporary Art Center Vilnius (CAC), Vilnius;National Centre for Comtemporary Art, Moscow, Russa,
Passage d'Europe, Musee d'Art Moderne Saint-Etienne, Saint-Etienne, France
Public Rituals - Art / Videos from Poland, Museum Moderner Kunst Wien, Vienna, Austria
For more information on the artist, see: www.kubabakowski.net