From Zofia Kulik's Self-Magnifence V to Zhang Huna's Shanghai Family Tree, the Identity exhibition explores the impact of the social, political and historical environment on the creation and interpretation of self through the art of both Polish and international artists.
The winter exhibition at Poznań's Art Stations Foundations presents works by both Polish artists - Zofia Kulik, Maciej Osika, Konrad Kuzyszyn, Jerzy Lewczyński and Katarzyna Górna - and international artists - Zhang Huan (China), Loretta Lux (Germany), Michael Najjar (Germany), and Thomas Hirschhorn (Switzerland) - all of whom use photography as their primary medium of expression.
The show offers an intriguing generational and thematic cross-section of works, taking the complex issue of identity at the turn of the 21st century as a common reference point. The time and place these works came into being are equally significant, yet all of them succeed in illustrating aspects of identity at the personal, social and cultural level. They also serve to unveil an iconographic richness and iconological depth that reflect the impact of social, political and historical phenomena on identity formation.
Equally crucial here is a more and more identifiable new perspective in the post-western world, where the voice and experience of artists from China and the Middle East who enter the international stage supplement significantly the vantage point of European artists. One of the characteristic features of the show is, therefore, the multiculturalism of the present.
Despite this thick network of intertwined aspects of identity and their conditions, the exhibition is quite transparent, both in terms of the works on display and the content conveyed, demonstrating the network of new relations and co-dependencies that arise between the works to furnish a vast array of different significations.
Two floors of the show are dedicated to a series of works by Zhang Huan (b. 1965), a major representative of contemporary Chinese art. Zhang Huan is the youngest exponent of a new wave of artists that emerged from China in the early 1990s. In his art, Zhang Huan makes use of a whole gamut of media, ranging from performance through photography to installation, sculpture and painting with ash. The show in Art Stations will present two suites of photographs, Shanghai Family Tree, 2001 and Foam, 1998. As to their underlying message, both series attempt to take a middle position between the impact of society and family ties and the role of fate in identity formation and the development of a particular place for the artist as an autonomous being in family and social life. Thus, identity and a widely-construed spirituality is the principal motif of both series.
Iconographic evocativeness and multiple meanings can be also found in the works of Zofia Kulik. The show presents Self-Magnificence V (Mother, Daughter, Partner), 2007. In the context of thinking about identity, the tripartite subtitle is an important introduction into the inner realm of the work. Extensive archives of gathered, defined and arranged objects and gestures are the initial form of the work. Both the air of the works and their choice are characteristic of Zofia Kulik. Through a very precise self-definition, the artist strives to partake in existence as much as possible, to be a fragment of "the portrayed wholeness of existence", of which she herself feels part and parcel.
It is the dormant force discovered in the ability of self-determination, a medium also found in portraits by Maciej Osika or a work in the Madonnas series by Katarzyna Górna that points to a parallel dimension of identity contained within the sexual. In Osika, this is a record of the artist's extraordinary ability to become a woman and the mastery of showing himself as an "androgynous being", balancing off the related female and male elements within his own psychosomatic self. Another equally bold revaluation is attempted by Katarzyna Górna, who struggling with women's gender roles, also fights for the renewal of the visual tradition, assigning a new dimension to historical iconography. Here the entire body of a woman is a source of deliverance despite layers of historical connotations that put its freedom into question.
Identity seen through the prism of a pursuit of the human condition is taken up by Konrad Kuzyszyn. The artist focuses on the human body, subject to natural and human experimentation. This is a body subject to an irreversible transgression, shown as symbolic of the limits of being, suspended between truth and fiction in a mute question about one's own identity. Artists Loretta Lux and Thomas Hirschhorn explore the impact of the environment and human psychology as a major component of the representation of identity.
The exhibition opens February 3, 2011, at 19:00 and runs through March 16, 2011.
Art Stations Foundation
ul. Półwiejska 42