Branko’s performance was extremely static and based on horizontal micromovements. The artist was lying naked on a regular strip of stones. Slowly, almost imperceptibly he moved from one end to another. To a passing viewer he might have seemed a sculpture, but if one observed him for a bit longer, he or she could notice the subtle tensing of his body, noiseless movements along an invisible line. Miliskovic’s action could be read both as a visual situation, a living installation, and as a process which had been slowed down. The naked body, hairless, primitive, bringing to mind an infant’s body, arduously covering its trail from the starting point to the finish gives rise to associations with the passing time which regulates human existence.
The track left on the stones and by the stones is also a distant echo of the “Sailing Rocks” from the Californian Death Valley. This geological phenomenon consists in rocks moving and drawing long paths along the smooth valley without any intervention from humans or animals. There is a scientific explanation of this phenomenon, but a number of people prefer to see in it mysterious, unexplained activity of the forces of nature. Moving rocks on the very bottom of the earth – in a place where temperature rises above 38 degrees Celsius 190 days a year, and drops below zero for eleven days – seem to be an animistic creation. Branko Miliskovic referred to this situation, using his body as an object endowed with a mysterious force.
In her action, the artist relied mainly on her voice as an instrument and a medium for content. An important element/background of the performance is its context – Justyna spent a year in Indonesia, where she undertook a project concerning the issues of evolution and focusing on a being which combines a human and a monkey. She says, “I spent a week in a Balinese village, studying cak – a voice of a monkey, used by the Balinese, who emit this sound in a group of about 50 people, in different rhythms. My teacher was Nyoman Cerita from Singapadu village. Cak is used in the sacred dance sanghyang, whose aim is to send the dancers into a trance (the Balinese believe that the Goddess enters the body of a girl dancing among men). Kecak is popularly referred to as ‘monkey dance.’”
Performance was based on repeating the abovementioned sound and multiplying it through recording it and replaying it repeatedly as an echo. The accumulation of sounds resulted in an impression of a “monkey choir” – a primitive sound hidden deep in the diaphragm. The artist impersonated the virus of the Western culture, obsessed with content and meanings referring to those sounds and mechanisms which are most primitive, bestial, inner, unbridled by the form. At the same time, her action did not lack aesthetic polish – a stylish shining microphone and clothes suggestively complemented the message.
Kineret Haya Max
It was probably the first time when the huge gallery space had been described through something such brittle and inconspicuous. A black thread – a black line, a line of memories, of forgetting, of the past, a line of separation, a line-sign, a line – a shimmering symbol of somebody’s remote presence; finally, a line which fire turned to ashes in a flash. Kineret created an extremely dense situation, powerfully engaging the viewers’ emotions. She started her action dipping her shock of dark curls in a bucket of water with the words „polish water” inscribed on it. The artist is keen on double meanings of words and the common denominator which bonds them in a surprising way. “Polish water” can mean both „water from Poland” and „water for polishing” – a similar play on words was employed during the performance, in which the artist was standing in a former pool, holding a rope in one hand and in the other a sign with the words “pull please.” Having dipped her hair in water, she began to walk around with a decisive step, slowly spelling out syllable by syllable the text she had written on the palm of her hand. Each time she moved backwards and walked forward again, adding more and more until the message became understandable. It was: To separate experience or memories from the emotions relating to them. It is a dictionary definition of the verb “to isolate.” Then, the artist began her action with the black thread. With a subtle, but decisive gesture she divided the gallery space with it – the audience were placed behind the thread, the artist in front of it. In her clear voice, she recited a nursery rhyme in Hebrew. It was a surprisingly accurate gesture in the context of Lublin’s history and the artist’s Jewish descent. Her assumption was to create a site-specific situation, a situation-reaction to specific impressions and to the character of the place, composed of details related to it. “I am a Jew who lives in Israel and is coming to Lublin” – that was the artist’s point of departure. It seems that her action fulfilled those assumptions, as a specific kind of dialogue was established between the artist and the audience, possible only in a situation of high density of strong emotions.
Performance Platform Lublin 2013 was unique for a number of reasons. It showed that performance is still a living, pulsating medium through which artists want to express their experiences, beliefs and reflections on the world. Although in 1978 during the „Performance and body” their motivation was completely different and they were accompanied by a different socio-political climate, the core was just the same: performance is an exceptional manner of manifesting one’s freedom and individuality. This is what is left unchanged with the passing of years. Performance Platform created an opportunity for a dialogue on numerous levels: intergenerational and transcontinental. Young artists from different places in the world submerged themselves with curiosity in the Polish history of the late 1970s. They willingly shared their stories about the different ways which led them to performance. It turned out that the formula of actions interspersed with conversation and lectures is still valid, as it provokes a deeper reflection on the art of performance, on the form of festival and on the relationship to the future. The artists whose presence contributed greatly to the event were Zbigniew Warpechowski, Przemysław Kwiek, Ewa Zarzycka, Janusz Bałyga, Tadeusz Mroczek and Zdzisław Kwiatkowski, as they shared their memories from the times of „Performance and body” in a colourful, anecdotal way. The artists left Lublin full of the positive energy of the festival days.
The artist was lying on the ground, wrapped in colourful ribbons, with colourful balloons tied to his body. His face was covered with chocolate and colourful sprinkle. He looked like a birthday cake – his body became a space for celebrating a rite of passage in which another year of life goes by, at the same time bringing us to the end of existence. Tales celebrates the rite of passage using all sort of available conventional gadgets: ribbons, balloons and sweets associated with joyous, unreflective consumption and entertainment. Being imprisoned inside them, frozen in an extravaganza of colours brings to mind youth, full of enthusiasm and focused on deriving pleasure, as well as the old age and the accompanying fear of melting into vacuum. Tales points out the contradiction included in celebrating birthday – another year one has lived through, new experiences, but also one year less separating one from the inevitable departure from this world. After some time Tales freed his body from the colourful ribbons binding him and left the gallery with a bunch of balloons. Outside, he let go of the balloons, which flew up into the sky. Then he walked away into the darkness, losing shreds of ribbons on the way.
Sarah was standing in front of the audience wearing an exquisite costume, something in between a cabaret attire and a little girl’s dream-come-true outfit. Her muscular, masculine legs stood in contrast with pink high-heeled shoes. Such shoes make it difficult to keep one’s balance, but women will go to great lengths to look attractive. Her costume mocked the stereotypical image of a woman who wants to look great, and her “self” is so emotional about her appearance that she starts believing she is it. Identifying with one’s appearance and excessive focus on it makes it difficult for one to feel good in one’s own body. Sarah Hill became many women’s figure of frustration. She jumped on her high heels, shouting “I’m fine.” Her action, based on minimal narration and repetitiveness, was a very intensive experience. Her cry and her image focused in them masculine and feminine energy, billowing and searching a way out. Sarah’s desperate gesture was a direct translation of an inner experience into the language of the performance art. There was but a thin border between the density of emotions and the external world and that may be the reason why the audience experienced her action so intensively. A cathartic dialogue was established between her and the people in the gallery, referring to the deepest human dilemmas connected with the body, the gender and the image.
Grzegorz Bożek / The hierarchy of pot palms
„We need to finish from something” – Grzegorz said, standing in front of his audience. He announced a radio play which was to begin at midnight. Everybody could take a tiny booklet containing a blurred, faded drawing of two pot palms and texts-aphorisms marked with Decalogic pathos. Grzegorz approached the speaker on which there was a large sheet of paper. He stood there motionless, bending his head slightly. I was watching him from the back; he seemed to be reading. After a few minutes he left the room; I walked up to the speaker to see what was written on the sheet. There was a picture of pot palms covered with white paint, against a yellow background. The thin line blurred with whiteness seemed a distant memory of the picture. The palms loomed indistinctly, and the picture was wet. Water, oil? Maria, who had watched the artist from the side and could see exactly what he had been doing, said: “Saliva. He was spitting the whole time.”
Pot palms are an extraordinary creation, a paradoxical juxtaposition of exoticism and small-town aspiring households. A huge, proud, expansive plant associated with the tropical climate or the streets of Los Angeles, stuffed into a cramped pot. I remember that as a child I would go with my parents and visit my aunt and uncle outside Olsztyn; I would sit in a big bright room, half filled with a wide-stretching palm, its leaves curling below the ceiling. To this day, a pot palm and leather picture symbolize for me the “prosperity” of the early 1990s. The picture of the pot palm is unbearably grotesque. “I like drawing palms,” Grzegorz says. “The midget equals a real healthy tree when it stands on a speaker, reaching the top of the tree” (from the booklet about “The hierarchy of pot palms”).
Eve appeared amongst the audience dressed in white. The thin fabric reduced the barrier between her and the others, it was a form of a second epidermis. She approached selected people, taking them by the hand. She gently moved her hand; drops of water dripped from the touching fingers of both hands. Eve dosed the moment of interaction. Holding a stranger by the hand and staring into his or her eyes was an attempt at establishing personal contact, at looping the energy flowing between two people which is inaccessible to any other person. Eve was holding ice in her hand. It was melting in her firm grip. Gradually, Eve would release the grip and walk over to a next person selected from the audience. The ice can be read as a metaphor of an interpersonal barrier which can only be eliminated by close contact, touch and experiencing mutual presence. The artist walked to a table in the corner of the room on which there were 170 glasses of water, full to the brim. She began to move the table. It resisted; the glasses trembled. Thin walls of glass resonated resoundingly, the water began to pour out. Eve was moving the table with glasses across the room, more and more glasses were falling; she handed the audience the ones she managed to catch. As I was watching this laborious process, I was under the impression that it was not so much wrestling with the physical matter as a direct reference to the human body and the struggle with one’s own limits. It was impossible to catch all the falling glasses while moving the table. To make such an assumption would be utopian. “I often feel like being on the edge, to a lesser or greater extent,” said Eve later, manipulating a glass at the edge of the table. A glass filled with water makes one think about the human and his or her features – the body which is compact and strong, but brittle, prone to injuries. It is filled with water, which is the basis of all chemical processes. The artist walked around the gallery and placed the glasses in different spots, marking the space. She moved with a glass along the wall, she walked holding it on her head. When she was lying on the table with a glass on her belly, the water was rippling slightly, in harmony with her breath. The wet white fabric was more and more melting with her body. It was my strong impression that everything she was doing was very corporeal, connected with the body and leaning towards the body – that it was not an accidentally chosen matter. At the same time, the artist was examining her own limits, probing how far she could go. Actually, the performance could go on and on, extended by adding new threads. After the action was finished, the artist began wading in the spilled water with her bare feet, leaving long, wet, dark tracks. The glass clinked, trampled with the shoes of the people leaving.
Eve’s surname means “good water” in French.
Zbigniew Warpechowski & Tomasz Stańko / Improvisations
At the end of the first day, the film Improvisations was screened in the Aquarium room. In 1967, Zbigniew Warpechowski realised his first performance – it was a poetic improvisation with the participation of Tomasz Stańko; 41 years later the artists reconstructed that action for Lublin’s Zachęta. They took care to recreate the poetic situation they had produced that first time, and paid attention to stay faithful to the objects which had accompanied them then – there was a white shirt (at the first occasion, it had been a nylon wedding shirt, now – a cotton one, bought in Japan), a candelabrum, two white sheets of paper on which an “undrawn drawing” was to be created. The sound of the trumpet subtly painted the space and Warpechowski held his monologue referring to what he had talked about four decades earlier, but from a contemporary perspective. It was a commentary of a mature artist who is looking for the answer to the eternal question about the truth, being aware of the fact that in today’s world the ground of values is moving away from beneath our feet. Warpechowski feels the superficiality of this ground and an unabated confidence in face of overwhelming mediocrity. Full of disgust, he repeats the phrase: “one is not a poet, one is being a poet,” feeling contempt for the world ruled by economic fluctuations, temporary fashion and appearances. He refers to the figures of poètes maudits, his friends, Polish defiant artists hounded in their lifetime and rehabilitated after death (Herbert), repeating after Ginsberg: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.” Warpechowski misses the poetry of life, the poetical side of everyday life, with the reflections of truth shining through it; he distances himself from artistic work driven solely by linguistic acrobatics and searching for vivid metaphors. An old man digging his walking cane around in a pile of ashes appears to be the last man standing of the avant-garde, persistently warding off apathy and mediocrity, as faithful to his beliefs as he was 40 years ago.
The open call accompanying this year’s festival Performance Platform Lublin has been settled. We have received 102 applications from all over the world. We thank all the artists who had submitted their proposals!
A committee of:
between 26 of August and 04 of September 2013, after considering all the applications and many hours of discussion, had chosen nine artists who will be invited to participate in the festival. These are:
1. Eve Bonneau (France)
2. Grzegorz Bożek (Poland)
3. Liu Chengrui (China)
4. Arianna Ferrari (Italy)
5. Tales Frey from Cia.Excessos (Brasil/Portugal)
6. Justyna Górowska (Poland)
7. Kineret Haya Max (Israel)
8. Sarah Hill (USA)
9. Branko Miliskovic (Serbia/Germany)
We would like to remind, that the date for the festival has been changed to 24-26.10.2013.
Open call for performances
deadline: 25 August 2013
(the delivery date and not the postmark date is decisive)
Performance Art Foundation invites young artists under 35 to enter their proposals of performances for the open programme of the 5th edition of Performance Platform Lublin. The festival is a cyclical event presenting the diversity of paths, strategies and directions in the performance art. Taking into account the profile of the festival, we kindly ask you to enter proposals concerning exclusively performance art – proposals of paratheatrical, dance or musical acts will not be considered.
Performance Platform Lublin 2013 will be held on 24 – 26 October 2013 in the Labirynt Gallery in Lublin.
How to apply
In order to participate in the festival, please send by post or deliver personally the attached application, completed and signed, with the documentation of performances realized so far, to the following address:
ul. Popieluszki 5
with a note: ”Performance Platform Lublin 2013”
The deadline for applications is 25 August 2013 (the delivery date and not the postmark date is decisive).
The documentation of the performances realized so far should include:
a) at least 5 photographs – resolution 300 dpi, preferred formats: tiff/ jpg, recorded on a CD/DVD
b) video documentation of 3-5 performances – preferred formats: DVD video, avi, mov, recorded on a DVD
c) a detailed description of the photographs and video files including: the title, the date and place of the performance, the full name of the author of the documentation
The sent materials will not be returned to the authors.
The list of artists selected to participate in the Festival will be published on 5 September 2013 on www.performanceplatform.pl
The artists qualified to participate in the festival will be offered:
- accommodation from 23 to 27 October 2013
- a fee of 900 PLN
- for the artists living outside Poland – partial reimbursement of travel expenses (up to 500 PLN)
- photographic and video documentation of the performances during the festival
- technical support, help in organizing the materials necessary for the performance