No 1 (65) 2006
January - March


Agnieszka Żechowska has announced her challenging motto, “Put Up with Me”. This has been a provocative statement. Tolerance is the last thing to be imposed on anyone. This contradiction, however, turned out to be inspiring for a group of several dozens artists.

Agnieszka Rayzacher

Art critic, curator. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Agnieszka Rayzacher

A competition formula makes one build up an exhibition out of the works selected among the submitted by the artists. The limitation made it possible to reflect on the issue of tolerance perception by young artists. This catchword has been quite general. When I am thinking about the exhibition – including three parts – what comes to my mind is the term “multitude” which is further justified by the fact that foreign artists had an opportunity to take part in this Supermarket of Art, for the first time ever. The multitude of points of view on life and art, cultural variety, the need to manifest them. This has not been begging for approval , but a direct shout: Put up with me! You do not have any other way out. This standpoint has been illustrated in The Bestiary of Unconsciousness, the video by Aleksandra Polisiewicz – the work disturbing with a whole spectrum of meanings, the surreal climate, androgynous characters, a symbolic approach to the issue of sexual identity. The author has overstepped the borderlines, fully aware of it, as though she were testing our perception capacities. Exploring, marking or crossing borders. Andrzej Wasilewski has presented – convincing in its simplicity, clearly inspired with The Notion/Shapes by Stanisław Dróżdż – the installation Mine Me, where personal pronouns are being repeated as though they were a mantra. Stafeta, the German group, has shown a surprising project – a social game. The participants were forced to play parts of refugees crossing an illegal border. Anna Krenz has dealt with religious intolerance using the language borrowed from kids playing a game. The author has exhibited a group of rag dolls representing early Christian saints accompanied by their martyrdom attributes. Each doll has got her own hagiography, and they have been packaged in a transparent foil. Krenz, following the example of the contemporary mass culture, has approached suffering and cruelty as products – goods attractively packaged and easy to digest. Is she going to continue this series with the puppets – victims of the contemporary religious fundamentalism; dismembered, with their guts out? This work, hidden in the corner of the Program Gallery, in spite of applying subtle means, has been one of the most daring among the ones presented at the biennial event. The pendant to the latter project, IslaMac, a small size mural by the same artist, has been displayed on the wall of the Artists’ Home (DAP) in Mazowiecka St. in Warsaw. Organization of an exhibition on tolerance has not been an easy task in the time when its rules are being repeatedly abused. There is a threat of being caught into a trap of cheap publicity and literal meanings. This is exactly how one of the works presented at the exhibition has been criticized. The latter pertains to I Am Gay, a controversial project by Karol Radziszewski. His work, a kind of the coming out, perfectly fits into the debate (or rather attempts to initiate it) on the rights of homosexuals who have been ever stronger marking their identity. In the ailing Polish democracy, an opportunity to come out of the closet is a right in itself. The work by Radziszewski (whatever the artist’s intentions have been) is a perfect commentary on what is presently going on in our streets. This work is quite perverse and seemingly it has something of a schoolboy act of stirring up a hornet’s nest. Other works, shown at this exhibition, approach the issue of sexual minorities from an angle of the more emancipated. I mean here the Wives Couple, a series of aesthetic driven, subtle photographs by Breguła – Buczkowska duo, revealing everyday reality of two women living together. The biennial event has been accompanied with an exhibition by the artists invited by the curator and two jury members – Adam Budak and Michał Kolecka. This offered an opportunity to see the works by two excellent artists: the first one, Hannah Dougherty, an American painter living in Berlin, the second – Michel Provost, an author of fascinating movies. His feature video, Exoticore, was a “hit” at the Supermarket of Art. It is a pity that only few critics have appreciated him. One could expect that the Put Up with Me catchphrase would have resulted in the display of the works more radical in their expression. It cannot be ruled out, however, that this is the truth about the youngest generation of Polish artists who are determined to defend social and cultural oriented heterogeneity but they are not eager to make a revolution. The Young European Art First Biannual Exhibition, V/1 “Put Up with Me” Supermarket of Art, Agnieszka Żechowska - the curator, coordinated by the Supermarket of Art Foundation, The Artists’ Home Gallery, The Program Gallery, Klima Bocheńska Gallery, Warsaw, October – November 2005.