November 8, 2009

Report, day 3

Jaku Falkowski – The Mirror

The performance took place in the city space, in Lublin’s pedestrian zone. For an hour Falkowski was kneeling motionless on a pavement, staring at the ground. Although he resembled somebody asking for charity, a few details set him apart from a beggar. He covered a paper cup with his right hand, and on his lap he was holding a mirror. Passersby looking at the crouched artist could only see their own reflection.

Reportedly several begging strategies can be distinguished such as a “nobody” figure, a cripple, a scrounger, a bum, an occasional beggar, a figure with a “prop” (usually a child), a figure in front of a church, a busker, etc. Falkowski challenged that set of “self-presentation techniques”. He chose one of them and processed it. In a meaningful gesture, he refused to accept charity. The mirror in his hands unexpectedly confronted passerby with the way they look at beggars: a contemptuous or mocking look, a fleeting glance or a sympathetic look. Falkowski forced them to identify themselves with the beggar in the street, an extreme manifestation of rejection, and their own attitude towards him.
While during his basement action the other day he projected his digital image on himself, in the street he reflected the image of someone else. Falkowski raised the issue of isolation and social exclusion where a McDonalds cup in the streets seemed to be the last link in the chain of interrelationships, a degraded symbol of consumerism. Charity is offered to appease one’s conscience and get the satisfaction of having contributed to the cause of justice and fairness in the world. Falkowski’s rejection of charity deprived passerby of that satisfaction. With the mirror and covered cup he teased them and disturbed their complacency.

Zygmunt Piotrowski – Noah Warsaw

A bucket of water splashed on the floor of the workshop room. Piotrowski was moving slowly and carefully, wading in the water. His understated gestures were initially centred around his face. He cut off his senses, covering his ears and eyes with his hands. Water has appeared in Piotrowski’s performances several times and in various forms. In the struggle for the boundaries of hidden worlds STALKER vs WIEDZMIN, he was wading in the water as well. Many a time water has manifested itself through tears. The primordial substance, the shapeless matter in which everything takes shape, the mirror of desires and doubts.

In a poem inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Jacek Kaczmarski wrote:

This road runs along valleys flooded long ago;
Under the shallow water, the illegible writing of time:
Trail of icons, manuscripts, rifles
Over which the oar creates a splash of the Apocalypse

The sound of water reverberated in the spacious room. The post-industrial space of the Workshops evoked the scenery of the Zone, the maze of concrete corridors along which Stalker walked with his companions, wading in ankle-high water. Entering the spiritual space was only possible through the intensive, direct physical contact with the damp weight of the earth. Piotrowski made a connection between images from the past and the experience of space here and now.

The strong light coming from the floor illuminated his figure, enhancing his features and gestures. The artist immersed his hands in the shallow water and shook off the drops in front of him. He retreated and a shadow formed on the wall behind him. As he moved away, the shadow became smaller. At the end he waved towards the audience as if he were a priest blessing the congregation or a monarch greeting his subjects.
It was a kind of play with the convention, there was something metaphysical, a kind of ritual and performance show. Tongue in cheek, Piotrowski distanced himself from the artist-spectator situation. He left the room with a mysterious smile.

Marta Bosowska – Those Who Remained

The workshop room was steeped in darkness but for the light shining from the outside through the open door. In the doorway stood a barefooted girl in a white dress. She was holding a basket. She walked slowly and, like bridesmaids throwing petals, gracefully sprinkled ashes from the basket at the feet of the spectators. The striking contrast between her innocent angelic appearance and the ashes stirred up very strong emotions. She looked like an angel of death heralding somebody’s departure. A strong spotlight highlighted her silhouette and the falling ashes.

The artist closed the door. The light was shining only through the crack between the door and its frame. Then the darkness was pierced by a monotonous sound of an electrocardiograph signifying death. The sound was immobilising, it sent shivers down the spine. Bosowska took something out of her mouth and put it on the tiny heap of ashes in front of her. Later it turned out that those were pieces of a mirror.

In her performance art, Bosowska skilfully uses dramatic effect that forms a link between individual actions. The artist painstakingly repeats a certain activity; simple gestures take on the traits of a ritual. Then a sudden sharp twist or climax occurs. This way the artist closes the situations created, but she leaves behind a meaningful element, a physical trace. Frequently these are objects or traces of a human being (hair, ashes) distilled from everyday life. The artist wants to highlight and elevate them. What links the individual performances is memory thanks to which they can be viewed as micro-histories of man. Bosowska is their author, but the moment they appear, they cease to belong to her, they seek their reflection and clash with the histories of spectators or, rather, participants of performances.

Nigel Rolfe – I will follow

A chair was where the performance began and where it ended. The artist was sitting on the chair for a while, gazing at the people (or perhaps at the space) in front of him. He rang a tiny bell, its delicate tinkle reverberated throughout the room. Then he switched on a tape with a looped recording of a bell. A moment later he switched on another tape with a steady ticking of a metronome. The sound space was created by the echo and synthesis of sounds. Rolfe fetched a heavy sack filled with something. Then he lay down, lifted the sack onto his lap and tied it to himself with a rope. Thus his body acquired additional weight. He crawled or dragged his body across the bare floor of the workshop. Then he ripped the sack open with a knife. Flour was spilling from the slits in the sack. The artist continued his winding crawl, leaving a white trace behind. The flour formed a kind of a white river in which the man was immersed. His skin, face and clothes were soon covered with the white dust. The sack, closely attached to Rolfe’s body, appeared to be its integral part, whereas the flour evoked associations of something corporal, connected with pain. He quietly uttered a few words (….the heart is a very complex and fragile organ; when it fails, it reminds me of Him). For a moment, the artist’s personal story was revealed in the situation created for that performance action. The artist walked slowly around the room and switched off all the lights. A muffled, distant singing of a choir could be heard. The white river was a witness of the feverish movement, the struggle against the weight, the suffering. Along with the tranquil, solemn music, it lent the performance an almost mystical air. Finally the artist sat down on the chair and remained there, lost in admiration (can you hear how beautiful it is?). Gradually everything fell silent, everything grew dark and still.

Natalia Kida, Anna Hołoń, Łukasz Matuszewski, Paweł Mioduchowski, Joanna Niemejska, Radosław Pawlik, Waldemar Tatarczuk – Where is trace

The final performance was a symbolic culmination of the three-day festival. Seven people equipped with brooms were sweeping up the floor of the workshop. A grey cloud of dust was floating in the air. The “sweepers” shaped the dust into letters that formed three words: WHERE IS TRACE. This peculiar jigsaw puzzle was completed not by the artist himself, but by a team of people he appointed. Why? Perhaps, thanks to such an arrangement, the weight of the rhetorical question was distributed to more than one human being. Thus it became part of the shared experience. The question about the trace that remains, about where it actually is, refers to what is left after every event. It also refers to memory (which consists of traces) and how it evolves, how memories become deformed and blurred, replaced by other, more vivid memories.

A joint effort by seven people produces a short sentence. What happens with it next, however, is beyond their control. The impermanent substance merges with the surroundings, it undergoes entropy. The dust moves about in the air, inevitably changing the shape of the sentence. Gradually it turns into a trace of the text. Changes occur on a microscale, but observing them over time would enable to grasp the difference between the appearance of the text just after the action, and then a day, a week, a month later, etc. It was impossible though. In fact, the text was cleared few days after the performance ended. For a while afterwards, a grey streak was still visible, a trace of a trace.

November 7, 2009

Report, day 2

Philip Babot – black Narcissus

The Black Narcissus performance lasted 8 hours. The artist was sitting on a chair in a basement corridor, the only light coming from a single light bulb. Dressed in black and with a hood on his head, he was leaning over a black rectangular object he held in his hands. It was a plexiglass plate. When I first saw him, he seemed to be thoroughly studying his own reflection. When I came up closer though, it turned out that the artist could not see his face. The smooth surface of the plate reflected the light from above, but instead of his reflection, you could only see the sharp silhouette of the hood filled with blackness. Narcissus immersed in his own reflection in which there was nothing.

The myth of Narcissus has been inverted. Philip Babot makes a sarcastic comment on the enslavement and seduction of the gaze that is so common in visual arts.
Venus at Her Mirror by Diego Velázquez is frequently referred to in the feminist theory of art as a manifestation of voyeurism. Her back turned towards the viewer, the woman delights in her reflection in the mirror, but in fact she is an object of a persistent gaze, a passive object of a symbolic presentation. Babot analyses the gaze as a very important issue for social interaction. He is intrigued by the narcissism and megalomania of artists, performance artists in particular, who shamelessly expose themselves to the gaze of the audience. In the case of performance art, an extremely subjective art, the artists themselves are under the pressure of the gaze. During the debate, Phil Babot bluntly described visual arts as a field of voyeuristic masturbation. In contrast to the usual self-presentations/expressions of performance artists, he created an evocative image dissociated from the gaze. His head inclined, his face invisible, his motionless, black figure concealed at the back of the corridor, Babot in a way gives the viewer the middle finger. He ejects us from the automatism of the gaze. He conceals his ego in the camouflage clothing and the black panel that, despite its mirror-like properties, reveals nothing, directs us towards nothing.

Tomek Majerski noticed a continuity between Phil Babot’s action and contemporary art works taking up the issue of emptiness (Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void and John Cage’s 4’33’’). If we look at something long enough, it becomes nothing, Babot remarked. When we look at our image, it eventually disappears, replaced by our thoughts, our internal microcosm or universe around us.
Phil Babot is very interested in the aesthetics of Zen in the process of shaping and examining the relationship between an individual and space, particularly architectural space. The simplicity and austerity of forms, as Babot’s action shows, refers us to an unclear, rather elusive reality that gradually reveals its successive layers and complexity.

Michał Bałdyga – Contrast, oppositeness

Michal Baldyga’s action began with his careful balancing between two glass panes to keep them from falling. Next, he placed a sucker on one of them and attached a rope slung around a pillar to the sucker. Thus the lifted glass pane formed an acute angle in relation to the floor. The artist splashed water on the other pane that remained on the floor and then lifted it up towards the first pane. When the two panes connected, they stuck to each other, held up by the rope. You could sense a physical struggle with matter in Baldyga’s action. He drew our attention to some of its properties in order to highlight the issue of balance and the boundary. The boundary, the issue of determining and maintaining it, is an important notion in Michal Baldyga’s current actions. The boundary as a moment of connection between two glass panes has been illustrated in two ways: in the form of water and in the form of a human being. Water glues two spheres together joining them into a single object, while a human being manoeuvres his body in an attempt to prevent the panes from falling.

The area between seems to be the most significant. In one of his previous actions, Michal highlighted the area between by creating an installation made up of two magnets: the suspended magnet was attracting the other one, thus allowing it to levitate. The space between them was a meaningful void that enabled them to function. In the Oppositeness, antithesis action, two substances or two objects are bound not by the void, but by the human body and water, a major component of the body. The artist emphasises the fact that the world in which we live in and we ourselves consist of contradictions, dichotomies. Balancing between antitheses (water vs. a glass pane, a suspended pane and a pane prevented from falling) is an attempt at discovering the structure of the world and examining it from various perspectives.

Jaku Falkowski – existentia_essentia, an ontological performance

Falkowski’s performance took place in the basement. Dressed in white, the artist created a screen with a linen sheet. He outstretched his arms, covering himself with the sheet. His figure, however, soon appeared on the white “screen” in digital form. Falkowski projected himself on himself. He superimposed on his body his digitally processed image, thus examining the status of his presence. The adjective “ontological” implied a direct reference to being, to existence, both in the physical and digitally generated, manipulated form. The artist explored the compatibility of those images.

When the projection finished, Falkowski lit a cigarette and put it standing on the ground. The lights went off. The burning cigarette resembled, on the one hand, an hourglass measuring the passing time and, on the other, a substitute for the original fire or hearth that integrates people. And then began a truly shamanistic and Dionysian phase. In the darkness you could hear a multitude of sounds: a jaw harp, the cracking of broken branches, squeals, din of metal objects, party trumpets. The darkness sharpened the sense of hearing; the audience’s imagination was stirred by the barrage of sounds. The multitude and vividness of images in the first part of the performance were replaced by a total darkness filled with aggressive and unexpected acoustics.

Colm Clarke – (re)course

Colm Clarke created a situation of suspense and anxiety. In the centre of the spacious workshop room, there was a pair of large loudspeakers and between them stood a figure dressed in black, her head shrouded with a black cloth. A microphone was suspended from the ceiling. Dressed in hospital clothes, the artist was pacing in front of that installation. He set the microphone in a swinging motion thus causing feedback from the speakers: it was a high-pitched squeal combined with an indescribable rumbling noise. The artist sat down, his hands crossed behind his back, and began to gradually lean backwards, his mouth open as if in a scream. The gestures, the posture of the body and the evocative sounds enhanced the impression of somebody oppressed. However, there was no aggressor in the situation created. The artist was both tormentor and victim.

Then Clarke went outside and lay down on the grass covered by autumn leaves, between two small hollows filled with water. One of the hollows was burning: fire and smoke were issuing from the wet soil. The artist immersed his hand in the other hollow and produced a photograph that he set on fire and burnt. He lied motionless for a while and then returned to the workshop. He approached the person standing between the speakers and took off her hood. Clarke touched the girl’s neck. She reciprocated the gesture and for a few moments they remained frozen in that pose. The gesture resembled the testing of the pulse or identified their readiness to be a recourse to each other. They created a separate microcosm. The open hand was a sign of life.

The performance took place inside and outside the building. The passage between the two spaces was a kind of catharsis. The display of oppression arranged by the artist corresponded to public executions, a popular spectacle in the Middle Ages, in modern times broadcast and reported by the omnipresent media. Colm Clarke presented an array of gestures characteristic of a victim. While the spectators were aware of the conventionality of the situation, they assumed the role of witnesses to a situation of danger.

November 6, 2009

Report, day 1

Roddy Hunter – Poemat o kącie prostym (na podstawie Le Corbusier’a)

Performance Roddy’ego Huntera to trzydniowy cykl wędrówek po Lublinie, które artysta odbywa według wyznaczonej wcześniej trasy. Rozpoczyna swój rytuał codziennie o tej samej porze o zachodzie słońca – 15.45. Wyrusza z Warsztatów Kultury i w skupieniu przemierza ulice miasta według poniższego planu zataczając pętlę.

Księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki – Aleja Jana Długosza – Stanisława Leszczyńskiego – Czechowska – Lubomelska – Północna – Bolesław Prusa – Doktor Kazimierza Jaczewskiego – Obywatelska – Aleja Spółdzielczości Pracy – Lubartowska – Przystankowa – Świętoduska – Krakowskie Przedmieście – Aleje Racławickie – Aleja Jana Długosza – Księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki

Kiedy po dwóch godzinach wraca do Warsztatów na dworze jest już ciemno. Podczas spacerowania po Lublinie powtarza pewną czynność – umieszcza ekierki w rogu budynków i pomników. Akcji towarzyszy precyzyjnie budowana instalacja, składająca się z mapy, umieszczonej na tablicy w przedsionku Warsztatów, projekcji i przedmiotów – swoistych dokumentów.

Performance jest ukłonem w stronę Le Corbusier’a. Słynny architekt, ojciec stylu modernistycznego, zajmował się również poezją, malarstwem i ilustracją. Sam nazywał siebie plastykiem, graczem, akrobatą form i ich kreatorem. Wykładnia jego myśli o architekturze i urbanistyce przyjmowała nieraz formę poematu – Poemat o kącie prostym uchodzi za najbardziej przejrzystą syntezę jego życiowych dewiz. Poemat składa się z rysunków Le Corbusier’a, opatrzonych poetyckim tekstem. Pisze w nim o regułach, jakie rządzą życiem człowieka w kontekście architektury i jego najbliższego otoczenia. Z jednej strony to pochwała racjonalizmu, umiłowanie porządku i struktury – z drugiej zaś szaleństwo i swoboda metafor.

Roddy Hunter sięga do utworu Le Corbusier’a, znajdując w nim potencjał do opisywania współczesnego miasta. Intryguje go uporządkowana wizja świata (pierwiastek apolliński) w gąszczu wzniosłych, poetyckich porównań (pierwiastek dionizyjski). Przenosi tą dychotomię w obszar publiczny. Wędruje po mieście w poszukiwaniu kątów prostych, które oznacza ekierkami. Trasa, która wyznaczył do złudzenia przypomina trójkąt równoramienny. Poemat, który ma otwartą, przestrzenną strukturę zostaje przełożony przez Huntera na plan miasta, z całą jego intensywnością, zgiełkiem, heterogeniczną formą. Kąt prosty, złożenie dwóch linii, to podstawa konstrukcji ludzkiego świata. Rytm w dużym stopniu determinuje nasze życie. Artysta przemierza swoją drogę zaznaczając te miejsca, oddając w ten sposób specyficzny hołd Le Corbusier’owi i idei symetrii, a jednocześnie z przekąsem komentując jej utopijność. Miasto to również meandry i zawiłości (wspominał o tym Le Corbusier w jednej ze strof, do których nawiązuje Hunter).

Roddy Hunter rozpoczął swój performance w przedsionku Warsztatów – gdzie wisi mapa Lublina. Leżał na ziemi z wyciągniętymi rękami. Stopniowo podnosił się – wyraźnie prezentując kąty proste w swoim ciele. Ciało funkcjonowało więc jako figura z zaznaczonymi kątami prostymi – pomiędzy kciukiem a dłonią, w zgięciu rąk i nóg. Kąt prosty powstał również wskutek pionizacji figury – artysta przeszedł z pozycji leżącej w pozycję stojącą. Na pasku jego spodni wisiały ekierki. Podszedł do mapy, wyjął lupę i malutką latarkę, nakreślił światłem drogę, która zamierzał przejść. Wszystkie te sprzęty tworzyły ekwipunek współczesnego badacza miasta. Artysta położył pierwszą ekierkę w kącie, przy wyjściu do Warsztatów i ruszył w trasę. Po dwóch godzinach wrócił. Na tablicy zawisła gumowa rękawiczka, którą miał na dłoni podczas spaceru a mapa została pocięta w regularne pasy.

To, co wydało mi się niezwykle interesujące w performance Roddy’ego Huntera – to rozwiązanie kwestii czasu. Artysta rozpoczął cykliczne działanie – które ma odbywać się regularnie i ma znamiona rytuału. Oprócz tego zakończona akcja w przestrzeni otwartej jest niemal natychmiast prezentowana w formie zdigitalizowanej – jest swoistą retrospekcją, uskokiem w czasie. Artysta świadomie narusza linowy porządek. To również kolejny aspekt dyskusji z dziedzictwem modernizmu. Jutro kolejna odsłona wędrówki.

Paweł Korbus – działanie – trwanie

Paweł Korbus zaaranżował przestrzeń w piwnicy. Delikatne, zielone reflektory były skierowane do środka sali. W powietrzu unosił się słodkawy zapach dymu i piwnicznej wilgoci. Kwadratowy filar był ważnym elementem konstrukcji przestrzeni performance – wokół niego ogniskowała się akcja, światła i ruch artysty wyraźnie zmierzały do stabilnego punktu, okalały centrum. Artysta chodził wokół filaru, zawężając okręgi coraz bardziej zbliżał się do niego. Powtarzał słowa: tak, nie i może. Jego monotonnemu ruchowi towarzyszył nagrany i puszczony w pętli dźwięk. Słowa odnosiły się do wątpliwości, które nieodłącznie towarzyszą człowiekowi – wątpliwości co do obranej drogi, co do dalszych poczynań, co do kierunku, w jakim chce się iść. Stało się to punktem wyjścia dla zbudowania metafizycznej sytuacji. Zielone światłom, jak mówił artysta, to kolor nadziei. Przywoływał również cytat z Cortazara: Nadzieja to kurwa w zielonej sukience.

Piwniczna nora wydawała się przestrzenią bez ograniczeń, artysta stworzył gęstą, zawiesistą atmosferę, delikatne punktowe światło w oparach dymu rozmywało kontury. Przechadzał się wokół filaru mnożąc wątpliwości. Artysta mówi, że wykreowana przez niego sytuacja nawiązuje w pewien sposób do medytacji na pustyni, która jest miejscem, gdzie zbiera się myśli, próbuje nawiązać kontakt z Absolutem. Z pustynią kojarzy mu się silny, wertykalny akcent – stojący samotnie słup czy pal, łącznik nieba z ziemią. Poruszanie się po trajektorii, niemożność wyjścia z zaklętego kręgu zdaje się obrazować klasyczny, egzystencjalny problem. Paweł w pewnym momencie zaangażował do swojego działania tajemniczego mężczyznę z widowni, który podjął grę. Podchodził coraz bliżej filaru, utrudniając Pawłowi drogę. W pewnym momencie przestrzeń pomiędzy nimi stała się tak wąska, że dalszy ruch był niemożliwy.

Janusz Bałdyga – Rzeczy widzialne

Swój performance Janusz Bałdyga poprzedził wykładem o podstawowych zagadnieniach związanych ze sztuką performance. Artysta prowadzi pracownię performance na Akademii Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu – jedną z dwóch tego typu w Polsce (drugą kieruje Ewa Zarzycka na ASP we Wrocławiu). Wszystkie używane przez Janusza Bałdygę pojęcia określają status obecności – artysty w przestrzeni, artysty wobec widzów. Artysta poruszył problem widzialności i związanej z nią dyscypliny – będącej narzędziem komponowania przestrzeni. Definiował również takie pojęcia jak: figura, dystans, płaszczyzna i powierzchnia. Teoretyczny wstęp był ściśle związany z akcją, którą chwilę potem zaprezentował.

Artysta siedział przy stole pełnym pustych, małych szklaneczek. Przekładał je jedną ręką i odstawiał pod stół, co przypominało grę w szachy. Przesuwał je ręką, ogarniając chaos na stoliku, ściśnięte dzwoniły, niektóre spadły i rozbiły się. Artysta podszedł do dużej płyty wiórowej, której każdy bok miał ponad 2 m. Podniósł ją i utrzymując ciężarem własnego ciała rysował na niej linie czerwonymi szminkami, które trzymał w obu dłoniach. Linie nie spotkały się. Przeszedł z drugiej strony płyty i powtórzył gest. Narysował również białą kredą trójkąty równoboczne – z jednej i z drugiej strony płyty. Płyta – jak powiedział artysta – ujawniła podczas akcji swą bezwzględną fizyczność. Próba utrzymania jej dwiema szminkami nie powiodła się.

Dwa trójkąty po nałożeniu na siebie tworzą heksagram – ale tylko w sferze wyobrażonej, gdyż fizycznie podczas akcji nie spotkały się. Podczas performance znak podlegał konstrukcji w procesie. Efekt finalny odwoływał się do myślenia symbolicznego. A operowanie symbolami – to zawsze droga na skróty, dzięki symbolom łatwiej nam zrozumieć złożoność świata. Bardziej niż samo-narzucające się symbole intrygowało operowanie przedmiotem, próba ujarzmienia i opisania go własnym ciałem. Presja przedmiotu dyscyplinowała artystę podczas budowania figury.

Elisa Andessner – Mowa

Performance Elisy opierał się przede wszystkim na ekspresji ciała. Ubrana na czarno artystka wykonywała wystudiowane gesty, jakie zwykle towarzyszą oracjom polityków. Milcząco zaprezentowała galerię pustych gestów, które nie odsyłają do żadnej treści. Mamią odbiorcę, sugerują profesjonalizm i przygotowanie mówcy a w rzeczywistości często są wykwintną przykrywką bezmyślności.

Po serii gestów inspirowanych mową ciała polityków nastąpiło płynne przejście do sekwencji zupełnie innych gestów. Ruchy rąk Elisy stały się wolniejsze, bardziej toporne, coraz bardziej niekontrolowane. Zaczęły przypominać nieskoordynowany ruch osób obłąkanych. Elisa nawiązała do dokumentacji fotograficznej sprzed wieku przedstawiającej osoby chore na histerię. Służyły wówczas jako materiał do badań. W XIX wieku prowadzono publiczne prezentacje ludzi z zaburzeniami psychicznymi. Artystka zestawiła te dwie historie komunikacji cielesnej. W trakcie histerycznych ruchów z jej rękawów wysypywało się konfetti. Małe barwne punkciki spadały na ziemię, na jej włosy i ramiona tworząc niezwykłą feerię. W pewnym momencie Elisa dyskretnie wysunęła ukrytą za plecami czarną tubę. Odkręciła ją i okazało się, że były to wybuchające serpentyny i konfetti, które z hukiem wystrzeliły w powietrze. Artystka uciekła i pozostawiła publiczność w stanie – z jednej strony lekkiego przerażenia, z drugiej fascynacji spadającymi kolorowymi płatkami .

Elisa przyznaje, że punktem wyjścia dla jej performance była obecna sytuacja polityczna w Austrii, skąd pochodzi – a która napawa ją przerażeniem. Postępujące poparcie dla skrajnie prawicowej partii, niechęć wobec imigrantów, skutki recesji gospodarczej sprawiają, że artystka zaczęła się zastanawiać nad bezpośrednim wpływem polityki na jej życie – wcześniej ta sfera nie absorbowała ją do tego stopnia. Po namyśle – co robić? – stwierdziła, że jedynym wyjściem jest terroryzm. Strzelające konfetti jest przewrotnym nawiązaniem skrajnych ruchów lewicowych. Oprócz politycznych konotacji w akcji Elisy można dostrzec również głos feministyczny – na co zwróciła uwagę Magda Linkowska. Histeryczne gesty, nagromadzone tłumione emocje – nie znajdują ujścia. Wypadają z kobiety jak kolorowe konfetti, kojarzone z ludycznością i karnawałem – są marginalizowane, wyśmiewane, nic nie znaczą. Nawet próba odpalenia bomby kończy się fiaskiem – w powietrze wylatują setki serpentyn, trwa wieczna zabawa i teatr pustych gestów.

Roddy Hunter – The Poem of the Right Angle (based on Le Corbusier)

Roddy Hunter’s performance is a three-day cycle of walks around Lublin along a pre-planned route. He begins his ritual ever day at the same time: at sunset (3.45 pm). He sets off from the Workshops of Culture and with great concentration traverses the streets of the city following the route below:

Księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki – Aleja Jana Długosza – Stanisława Leszczyńskiego – Czechowska – Lubomelska – Północna – Bolesław Prusa – Doktora Kazimierza Jaczewskiego – Obywatelska – Aleja Spółdzielczości Pracy – Lubartowska – Przystankowa – Świętoduska – Krakowskie Przedmieście – Aleje Racławickie – Aleja Jana Długosza – Księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki

When he returns to the Workshops two hours later, it is already dark outside.
During his walk around Lublin, Hunter repeats a specific action: he places set squares in the corners of buildings and monuments. This action is accompanied by a carefully prepared installation consisting of a map hanging in the Workshops’ vestibule, a video screening and objects – curious documents.

The performance is a tribute to Le Corbusier. This famous architect, a pioneer of Modernism, was a poet, painter and illustrator as well. He called himself a visual artist, player, acrobat and creator of forms. He often expressed his ideas on architecture and city planning in the form of poems. The Poem of the Right Angle is regarded as the most lucid synthesis of his personal maxims. The poem consists of Le Corbusier’s paintings accompanied by a poetic text that deals with the principles that govern human life in the context of architecture and man’s immediate environment. On the one hand, the poem expresses praise of rationalism and love of order and structure. On the other hand, it is based on frenzy and freedom of metaphors.

In Le Corbusier’s poem Roddy Hunter finds the potential for describing the contemporary city. Hunter is intrigued by the ordered view of the world (the Apollonian element) in the jumble of lofty poetic similes (the Dionysian element). He transfers this dichotomy into public space and wanders round the city searching for right angles that he marks with set squares. The route that he has mapped out resembles an isosceles. The poem, with its open spatial structure, is translated by Hunter into the city layout with its intensity, hubbub and heterogeneous form. The right angle, an intersection of two lines, is the structural base of the human world. The rhythm determines our lives to a large extent. The artist makes his journey and marks selected places, thus paying a peculiar tribute to Le Corbusier and the idea of symmetry. At the same time he makes an ironic comment on its utopian character. The city is also about meanders and complexities (Le Corbusier mentioned it in one of the stanzas to which Hunter refers).

Roddy Hunter began his performance in the vestibule of the Workshops where the map of Lublin is displayed. He was lying on the floor with his arms outstretched. He was gradually rising up from the floor, clearly presenting the right angles in his body. Thus the body functioned as a figure with the right angles emphasised: between the thumb and the palm, in the bend of the arms and legs. The right angle was also formed as a result of the figure becoming perpendicular when the artist stood up from his prone position. Set squares were dangling from the belt of his trousers. He approached the map, produced a magnifying glass and pocket flashlight, and mapped out the route he intended to take. All those items have become the equipment of the contemporary city explorer. The artist left the first set square in the corner at the exit from the Workshops and set off on his way. He came back two hours later, hanged the rubber glove he was wearing during his walk on the notice board and cut the map in regular strips.

What I found extremely interesting in Hunter’s performance was the solution of the issue of time. The artist has begun a cyclical action that has features of a ritual. In addition, the action completed in open space is almost immediately presented in digital form: it is a peculiar retrospection, a flashback. The artist intentionally disrupts the linear order. It is another aspect of the debate with the legacy of Modernism. Tomorrow another part of the walk.

Paweł Korbus – action – continuation

Paweł Korbus arranged the space of the basement. The delicate, green spotlight was directed towards the centre of the room. The sweet smell of smoke and the mustiness of the basement could be felt in the air. The square-shaped pillar was an important structural element of the performative space. It was the focal point for the action. The light and the artist’s movements were clearly aimed at the stable point in the centre. The artist was walking around the pillar, the circles were becoming smaller as he approached the pillar. He was repeating the words “yes”, “no”, “perhaps”. His monotonous movement was accompanied by a recorded looped sound. The words referred to doubts invariably shared by human beings: doubts about the road one has taken, about further actions, about the direction one wants to follow. It was the point of departure for building a metaphysical situation. Green light, the artist said, is the colour of hope. Quoting Cortázar, he said: Hope is a bitch in a green dress.

This basement hole became a space without limits as the artist created a thick atmosphere while the delicate spotlight pierced the clouds of smoke and dissolved the contours. He was walking around the pillar, multiplying the doubts. The artist says that the situation he created refers in a certain way to the meditation on a desert where one tries to collect one’s thought and establish contact with the Absolute. He associates the desert with a powerful vertical feature: a freestanding post or pillar, the connection between heaven and earth. Movement along a trajectory and the inability to break the vicious circle seem to represent the classic existential problem. At one point during his performance, Pawel engaged in his action a mysterious man from the audience. The man took up the challenge. As he was drawing closer to the pillar, he obstructed Pawel’s way. At some point the space between them became so narrow that any further movement was impossible.

Janusz Bałdyga – Visible things

The performance by Janusz Bałdyga was preceded by his lecture on the basic issues connected with performance art. The artist runs a performance art workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, one of only two centres of this kind in Poland (the other one is headed by Ewa Zarzycka at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw). All notions used by Janusz Baldyga define the status of the artist’s presence in space and vis-a-vis his or her spectators. The artist raised the issue of visibility and the related discipline that constitutes a tool for arranging space. He also defined such terms as: figure, distance, plane and surface. This theoretical introduction was closely related to the action presented shortly afterwards.

The artist was sitting at a table full of small empty glasses. He was relocating them with his hand and putting them under the table, which resembled a game of chess. He was pushing them with his hand, trying the control the chaos on the table. The densely packed glasses were tinkling; some of them fell and broke on the floor. Then the artist approached a large chipboard, each of its sides more than 2 metres long. He lifted the board and supporting it with the weight of his body, he was drawing lines on it with red lipsticks he held in his hands. The lines did not meet, however. Then he edged over to the other side of the board and repeated his gesture. Using chalk he also drew equilateral triangles, one on either side of the board. The chipboard, the artist said, revealed its absolute physical character during the action. His attempt to hold up the board with the two lipsticks failed.

Two triangles superimposed on each other create a hexagram, but only in imagination because physically they did not meet during the action. In the course of the performance the sign was undergoing construction in process. The final result evoked symbolic thinking. Using symbols is always a shortcut because symbols make it easier for us to understand the complexity of the world. Using the object, an attempt at subjugating it and describing it with the artist’s body was even more intriguing than the self-evident symbols. The pressure of the object disciplined the artist during the formation of the figure.

Elisa Andessner – Speech

Elisa’s performance was primarily based on body expression. Dressed in black, the artist was making studied gestures that are typically used by politicians in their speeches. Without uttering a word, she presented a gallery of empty gestures that do not convey any content. They were meant to beguile the audience and reflect the professionalism and wisdom of the speaker, whereas in reality they were a sophisticated cover for mindlessness.

After a series of gestures inspired by the body language of politicians, there was a smooth transition to a sequence of totally different gestures. The movement of Elisa’s hands became slower, clumsier and less and less controlled until it resembled the uncoordinated movement of mentally ill people. Elisa drew on 19th century photographs showing hysteria patients. The photographs were used for scientific purposes at that time. In the 19th century, public displays of people with mental disorders were organised. Elisa juxtaposed those two histories of body language. As a result of her hysterical movements, confetti was spilling out of her sleeves. The small colourful pieces were falling on the floor, on her hair and shoulders creating an extraordinary spectacle. At one point Elisa discreetly produced a black tube. She unscrewed the lid, triggering an unexpected explosion of streamers and confetti. The artist escaped and left the audience in a state of mild bewilderment and amazement at the flying colourful flakes.

Elisa admits that her performance was inspired by the current political situation in her native Austria. She was horrified by the growing support for extreme right-wing parties, hostility towards immigrants and the consequences of the economic recession. All that caused her to reflect upon the direct influence of politics on her life, even though political issues did not hold much interest for her before. She was thinking what to do in such a situation and concluded that the only solution was terrorism. The exploding confetti is a wry reference to extreme left-wing movements. Besides political connotations, a feminist voice can be discerned in Elisa’s performance, as Magda Linkowska observed. Hysterical gestures and accumulated suppressed emotions cannot be expressed. They come out of the woman like colourful confetti associated with playfulness and carnival: they are marginalised and ridiculed, they do not mean anything. Even an attempt at setting off a bomb ends in failure as hundreds of streamers explode into the air, the everlasting party and theatre of empty gestures continue.