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Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Power of Label vs. Creativity – Another Performance Art Night at F.A.I.T! (Krakow)

Malgorzata Kazmierczak, 2012-10-29

Performers more and more often avoid grandioso festivals and mainstream art centres in order to appear in new, unknown and low-budget places. It is all about eliminating the artificial relationship between artist and institution and the game that is often a consequence: which form may an artwork adopt in order to comply with a tangle of institutional bans, limits, directions and suggestions? Certainly the artist is someone important for an institution but at the same time he/she is a threat.

An artist does not become someone anticipated, his/her coming is not a celebration but moreover a routine element of the programme that creates the image of an institution. In the case of live art, this tension is a negative factor and is dangerous for the art presented. Mutual distrust has existed for decades. Important galleries avoid performers and create false and arrogant opinions about this kind of art in order to have a comfortable situation. Their peace of mind is at the expense of fulfilling the statute mission of the gallery that should be the bringing of honest information to the public which reflects the actual tendencies in art practice. But this artistic truth we see sharply only when we invite performers to our own town, at our own expense.

“No budget” events are hard to produce. They require a lot of conducive circumstances. The biggest problem is to assure the artist that his/her arrival, work and money spent will be rewarded with absolute freedom, friendship, openness and the presence of an audience. Only such a situation as this can become a good environment for artistic creativity. The artist must be convinced, that he/she won’t encounter a pressure similar to the institutional pressure that attempts to control his/her art.

Another no budget performance art night took place in F.A.I.T, a very non-standard club/bar with an old, overgrown garden. The entrance from the street is vaguely marked and practically unnoticeable for people who are not connected to the space. The open status of the venue and the standard technical equipment available are a silent invitation for performers and curators to participate.

The first performer in the programme of the evening was Alastair MacLennan (Belfast) who was personally very engaged in the development of performance art in Poland between 1979 and 2000. Although he is an unquestionable icon of the world of performance art, his previous performance in Krakow was in 1997, that is 15 years ago. Unfortunately the grand institutions of cultural Krakow do not pay attention to the greatest performance artists.

The preparation for his performance was preceded by an initiative inviting 15 volunteers through Facebook and word of mouth to participate in the action. There was only one condition – they all should wear black. This always uncertain element in the creation of a collective performance actually turned out to be pretty easy (in the end 18 volunteers participated) and one of the participants came from Gdansk which is 650 km away from Krakow. Another issue was selecting an appropriate space; for Alastair MacLennan it was of course the garden with plants that were overgrown and abandoned. What focused his attention was an enormous impressive vine, that rather resembled a twisted tree more than a grapevine. Nature had fought for existence in such a specific, closed and small garden and became a respected live partner and context for a universal message. The grapevine itself could have for example actually become a shamanistic cult object.

The performance title: TIME / EMIT was a perfect choice for of the artwork. The reversed word TIME – EMIT became a key construction for the action. The word can be interpreted in various ways as:

issue, radiate, emit
emit, give off, secrete, exude, liberate, evolve
issue, spend, publish, pass, betray, emit
release, discharge, let off, let out, emit, drop
emanate, emit, eradiate, diffuse
return, give up, give back, render, hand over, emit
shed, miscarry, emit, moult, molt, drop
exhale, breathe out, emit, expire

Performances by Alastair MacLennan do not have a linear structure, they are holistic and include both man and nature in a network of individual and group interrelations as well as connections with the universe. His performances always create strong and vivid images reflecting the idea: of man’s duties – protection of weaker forms of life. One drop of water may affect the whole world. This humble figure of the artist, a man concentrated on things that are seemingly unimportant, even unnoticeable, was accented by the sound of a small bell. Other participants of the performance also concentrated upon the action of pouring water from one glass to another, everyone slowly moving, created the irresistible impression of some sort of mystery happening in a Buddhist monastery. We know that this was experienced by the artist in his youth and today we can see that his attitude to art and life and that early experience are not far away from each other.

Antoni Karwowski (from Chociwel next to Szczecin, Poland). Antoni Karwowski was born in Grajewo on April 14th, 1948, in the North-East of Poland. It is an important fact, as it is a part of Poland that is culturally connected with Russia, and has different influences than the rest of Poland. We don’t know exactly if this fact has a relevance for his art or for performance art in general, but his own history, family and local narrative have a great significance for the artist in his current work. The artist in many publications refers to his birthplace or his current hometown – Chociwel which is 60 km away from Szczecin, 200 km from Berlin, 668 km from Krakow. The irreplaceable maps.google.com said: Failed to plan a route between Chociwel and New York, United States.

After a long migration, Antoni Karwowski moved to the Szczecin area (Western Poland) and found his way to performance art through local contacts and paradoxically – through contacts with German, not Polish artists. His art relates to private, family scraps of memory in order to create an expression that has a universal character. “Performance art enables me to play with time in a fascinating way. It gives you a sense of catching it and influencing past events, modifying them, tearing them away from ‘the source’, building new configurations, and transferring them into real-life space. I seek to redefine these events, find the form and place assigned by the original idea, intuition, and carnal biology”. (http://www.officyna.art.pl/pi_artists2010.htm).

During the performer’s night at F.A.I.T Karwowski used a small area of the garden, in front of a wall. His performance was titled: Twitter 2. He started with an aesthetical organization of the space, he “cleaned” the wall with a photograph for a longer time , placed a metal bowl with water in the middle of the space, he tore photographs of a face into two pieces, then covered a left part of his face with half of the photograph and put lipstick on his lips and on the lips on the photo. On both sides, a few meters away from the centre he placed pieces of warning orange tape. He then started to wrap it around his arms – first slowly, then faster and faster. The fast movement of his arms made an impression that the artist identifies himself with some undefined bird. Nature? In a final moment, from his mouth there emerged the sound of twittering.
Dariusz Fodczuk (Bielsko-Biała)

Dariusz Fodczuk is one of the most significant performers in Poland and Europe. His work is always intriguing, poetic and has a linguistic grounding. His performances are a kind of game with moral or aesthetic barriers. They are always well structured and the key to the structure is the artist’s amazing sense of humour which delicately changes meanings and contexts, questioning the “supposedly obvious”. Dariusz is a sweet and intelligent person, always ready to discuss art and life. Fodczuk could have been an outstanding FLUXUS performer, if he had been born 30 years earlier in New York or Cologne. But it was not to happen and today, even though he works systematically and in various places, European art historians prefer to get excited by a few and faded publications about happenings and actions from 30-40 years ago than come to the live performance by Dariusz Fodczuk. This resistance or inability of art criticism to acknowledge the true contribution of live art in the world results from a heroic defence of art icons that generate readymade footnotes to subsequent scholarly publications by lazy art historians. Therefore I, we are the only witnesses of his art. Not THEM.

The next very important fact is that Fodczuk does not try to be a boring old fart for example at the Academy of Fine Arts as an assistant, adjunct, Ph.D. candidate or a mere doctor of art. He does not absurdly limit his freedom in a catholic country. The artist often invites his colleagues – other performers to participate in his performances or simply invites the audience, because WE THE AUDIENCE are important.

The performance was of course located indoors, in the F.A.I.T. bar and had a tautological title “F.A.I.T.”. Its precise description is almost impossible, because it is too complex to comment chronologically on the entire action. I therefore focus here on a few of the most meaningful statements and images.

On the Internet there is a gigantic world of substitutes for your own individual thoughts. There are for example prompts which are ready SMS, funny SMS, love SMS – “Stone walls are lovely, river banks are lovely too, but the loveliest of all is your friend’s heart for you.” Fodczuk hung a better poem on the wall: “Mountains are lovely and rivers are lovely too, but the loveliest of all is your friend’s heart for you.” And then we had to struggle with that thought. But we didn’t have too much time for that, as the performer invited the audience to star in the performance themselves and attempt to do the splits. The provocation is successful, because a few people tried to confront themselves with the task. The lack of professionalism seems to be essential to this exercise. Next the building of a human pyramid is an easier task – the artist Anne Seagrave dominated the top position. Yes, this was all funny because every day we are accompanied by a similar media show, in which some suggested figures perform to a primitive standard. Each actor in a movie or TV can always do it. It’s not so easy in our case. A bit later Dariusz Fodczuk dressed up in a Chinese revolutionary uniform invited us to sing a well known song: Poland Has Not Yet Perished – that is a Polish national anthem. The outbursts of uncontrolled laughter and the attempt to concentrate on singing “the well known song” created a collectively absurd atmosphere. In the end Fodczuk turned away, pulled down his trousers and showed a smiley face painted on his bottom.

Anne Seagrave was born in England but for over 20 years lived in Ireland, and now for nearly 3 years has lived in Krakow. She is one of the most significant performance artists in Europe. For several years she has tested and connected her personal experience with an artistic experiment. In the 90s she contributed a lot of effort to the change of the Polish performance art scene through the supporting of Polish artists and performance art festivals. She loves horses, her cat and is engaged in art research in Poland. She is Alastair MacLennan’s ex-student, a very friendly, warm and open person and for the last 1,5 years strongly engaged in the editorial work for livinggallery.info.

From the point of view of a normal artist Anne Seagrave commits only mistakes. Why did she live in Ireland for so many years and now in Poland? These are the least interesting places to live and work in Europe and the world. Her answer, the video that she presented in F.A.I.T and the fact that it was projected directly onto brickwork over the heads of the audience as they arrived, is an illustration of a transition towards new discoveries and probably towards a totally new art inspired by life.

Volunteers participating in Alastair MacLennan’s performance: Łukasz Guzek, Mariola Frankiewicz, Tassilo von Blittersdorff, Barbara Zajączkowska, Agnieszka Popielarska, Mateusz Jackowski, Jakub Nowara, Martyna Wolna, Anna Chromik, Paulina Chamczyk, Jagoda Kiciak, Monika Dębowska, Milena Dębowska, Mira Damianow, Katarzyna Krzysztofik, Kamil Kuitkowski, Alina Sobiech, Jacek Ryszard Dąbrowski.

www.fait.pl

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