No 4 (84) 2010
October - December

An Ideal Exhibition?

An ideal exhibition? It should be shocking, cheap, and definitely they should serve there a lot of wine. This is a recipe provided by the Azorro Group artists in their film called - as the title suggests - "An Ideal Exhibition". And they put their words into action, organizing a retrospective show.

Patrycja Jastrzębska

B. in 1981. Art historian, she publishes texts in the „Obieg”, „Art & Business, “Modern Art”.

Patrycja Jastrzębska

COULD THIS BE A PROVOCATION? CERTAINLY, as it has always been the case with the Azorro Group, nevertheless full of irony and an inseparable sense of humor. The exhibition, presenting the majority of their films (2001 - 2010), offered plenty to laugh at; after all it was Azorro, the group that has been trying - for ten years of their existence - to bring a breath of fresh air into the slightly musty atmosphere of the Polish contemporary art. The most recent art and its surroundings have been the main point of reference and the main topic of the works by this group. Their films are penetrating, ask difficult questions, and frequently provide absurd answers. As proved by Gombrowicz and his followers, a grotesque can be the best tool to describe the reality without being too literal, while retaining a sense of humor and detachment. The above is the description of all output by Azorro. Light and funny, nevertheless dealing with not so trivial topics, at least for artistic circles.

The group consisting of four artists with proved achievements - Oskar Dawicki, Igor Krenz, Wojciech Niedzielko and Łukasz Skąpski - has been mercilessly mocking various absurd mechanisms governing the world of art. They have done this in a witty, intelligent manner. Thus, their actions have been frequently called "light criticism". In fact, Azorro do not pursue "light criticism" as much as they speak bluntly about weaknesses and shortcomings of the art world. "A Portrait with a Curator in the Background" (2002) film ridicules connections, speaking up while others only whisper. It is an open secret that curators quite often hand out artists a pass to mark their presence on the artistic scene. So the point is to cultivate this type of contacts. Azorro reduced this to an absurd situation where artists pose for a photo at haphazard locations with unsuspected of what is going on curators.

Their films deal with recurrent questions on the condition of contemporary art and an artist`s status. They apply grotesque and exaggeration, provide ironic comments on modernistic paradigm of art and never ending discussions on the most recent creative efforts. They pose a direct question: "Can an Artist Do Whatever He Likes" (2002). From Duchamp times we know, that he can, however they reduce the answer - and the question itself - to a pure absurd; they are crossing the street at a red light, they are spitting and pissing in public... "Everything Has Already Been" (2003) - their most famous film, unfortunately absent from the exhibition - ponders what new aspects can be contributed by art. It turns out that an artist cannot create anything new since... everything has already been. It cannot be helped. Thus, one is faced with "the end of art". In the movie carrying the same title (2002), the latter is announced by individual group members to Łukasz Skąpski who does not seem to care. He is sleeping on the coach, undisturbed, occasionally snoring; just confirming the guess that the majority of our society would do exactly the same. A black cat present in the video intensifies dramatic features of the situation. In spite of all these, they do not give up an artistic path, though after 2003 their common actions have been ever less frequent. Nevertheless, they prepared subsequent films especially for the Toruń exhibition; deliberating over the issues mentioned in their respective titles:... "An Ideal Sculpture" (the artists even announced a competition for and ideal sculpture where only the second award was granted); "An Ideal Exhibition", no doubt leading to the Toruń event. Further, "The Last Movie" video - according to some rumors terminating the group activity - was made specially for the exhibition. We have heard this many times before. Anyway, this has been a beautiful end - the artists argue who is an author of individual concepts. Finally each of them is leaving and going in his own direction. An ideal ending?

A secret of the Azorro`s success is its unpretentious character, wit, mockery, and last but not least, the simplicity of the message conveyed. Further, the medium applied is of some significance here - film - in neo vanguard and critical art loaded with multiple meanings and references - occurs really rarely. Azorro is pricking an inflated, little balloon of the Polish contemporary art that hardly ever happens to be detached. At the same time they are enjoying themselves, and so are we.

"An Ideal Exhibition". The Azorro Super Group", "The Time Signs" Contemporary Art Center, Toruń, June-September 2010; "It Cannot Be Better", the Arsenal Gallery, Białystok, October-November 2010.