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RYSZARD PIEGZA

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Ryszard Piegza's first performance was The music of an orange sphere, 1978.

Text by Wanda Pietrzyk-Malysa (Chicago, January 2010)

[...] On the occasion of another presentation in the Centre for Contemporary Art[in Wroclaw, Poland - MK], in one of the rooms of "the Palace" there is a performance. Through a slightly open door there comes the sound of piano music. On the other side of the keyboard sits a young man with disheveled hair, looking like an embodiment of a young Ignacy Paderewski [Polish prime minister, a pianist and a composer - MK]. He is playing some reckless passages. I enter quietly with a few other people into the room. It is becoming full and I sit on the side. The artist improvises, he is concentrated. He creates an ambiance, conducts some musical dialog between his right and left hand. At moments, he overwhelms us with cascades of sounds in such a fast tempo, that even Adam Makowicz [Polish-Canadian pianist - MK] would have been surprised by his technique. The last chords fade away... the pianist raises from the piano and then we see that he holds oranges in his hands. An applause mixes with laughter. [...]

The "pianist" takes a knife in his hand and slices the oranges, whose skins have certainly felt the touch of the piano keys. Well, these are just fruits, which the artist brings back their correct status and surely he will eat them soon. But this is not the end. He approaches one of the women sitting near on a chair, kneels in front of her, takes off her shoes, squeezes the juice and washes her feet with it. He does it solemnly, as if it was some ritual. He is provocative in this action, almost iconoclastic, especially, that, let's remind ourselves, citrus fruits are then during the 70s in Poland rare delicacies and later, during the 80s, become totally unobtainable. At the same time the symbolism of the actions recalls a comparison with the Messiah washing the Apostles' feet during the Last Supper. And here we read it backwards. There is a lot of humanism in this act of humility, servility, acceptance and purifying. At the same time there is a dose of poetry in these actions, that strikes a deep chord in people's emotions. The artist apparently suggests to us a kind of poetic message that is not too difficult. "Drop off your mask and 'follow me'."

I am under the impression, that this performance is quite difficult to describe. I have seen a lot of various shows, but for the first time the language of performance art was used so clearly, so characteristically to present this form of expression with minimal means. Speaking bluntly, we took part in a real act of creation! It was exceptional.

While leaving the room I notice a sign on the door: "The music of an orange sphere" - a performance by RYSZARD PIEGZA. [...].

The text is a fragment of an essay "Sztuka in statu nascendi" / "Art in statu nascendi" published in Polish in Sztuka i Dokumentacja / Art and Documentation Journal (No. 3, 2010, pp. 57-64).

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