The artist and her film crew traveled to Jerusalem during the Easter holiday, hot on the heels of "neo-messiahs" of all different backgrounds striving to prove their own holiness...
Katarzyna Kozyra, "Looking for Jesus", 2013, courtesy of the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation, CCA Warsaw
The artist's latest project was launched more than a year ago - and it is still underway. The process of conceptualising and carrying out her various projects are time consuming as Kozyra takes on the role of a researcher as she builds her idea, while also examining reactions to this idea from her immediate public. She is as much invested in the process of creating a work of art as she is in bringing an idea to fruition. She spent two years between 2010-2011 on her Casting project, traveling around the world calling upon members of the public to "try out" for a part in a fictional film production based on her life. The idea at the heart of this experiment is that very often reality proves much more interesting than fiction - the real-life personalities of those individuals cast in the role of Kozyra at various points in her life intermingle with Kozyra's own "character". A hybrid creature results, more complex than the artist or the actor alone.
Her latest project takes its cue from a phenomenon called the "Jerusalem syndrome", which was coined in the mid-20th century as an acute delusional disorder whereupon subjects visiting religious sites in the Holy Land start to identify themselves with biblical figures, in particular the figure of Jesus Christ. Kozyra and her film crew traveled to Jerusalem during the Easter holiday, hot on the heels of those investing themselves very closely in the sacred celebrations. The resulting 50 hours of film features "neo-messiahs" of all different backgrounds striving to prove their own holiness, set against the background of the local colour and action of Jerusalem's Easter festivities. The artist's role is to record the performance taking place before her eyes as an observer.
The resulting video work premiered in Poland at the Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle. It explores the social and individual processes of "pretending", "performing", "being" and “believing", putting forward the no-nonsense question-assertion paradigm of "Are you Jesus? Then we will follow you".
As Hanna Wróblewska, director of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, writes about the project,
The editing process, the constantly repeated review of the material and its lengthened viewing is the next stage of the contemplation of this "presentation". At the same time, being the attempt to verify certain facts derived from the participants’ statements and to listen to their stories “anew”, which builds its own history, an alternative scenario from the beginning. It is also a moment in which the artist asks herself as well as us, the next questions: What are the mechanisms that shape our beliefs and our faith? How do we perceive reality and how do we build its view? Isn’t a critical approach and a constant verification of facts, just another kind of the intuitive desire to believe in the power of reason?
Katarzyna Kozyra (born 1963) rose to prominence in the 1990s as a leading figure of the "critical art" movement in Poland, creating works that confront social taboos (such as death, disease and nakedness), usually related to issues of the sick, old or marginalised. She uses a range of media - sculpture, installation, video and performance - to make striking statements on current issues related to the body, incarnation, reincarnation and role-playing beyond a literal or theatrical level.
Katarzyna Kozyra - Looking for Jesus opens at the Żak-Branicka Gallery on the 8th of March 2013 (6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p. m.) and runs until the 20th of April. For more information, see: www.zak-branicka.com
See more on the project at: csw.art.pl
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart
Source: Żak-Branicka Gallery, CCA Warsaw