No 3 (87) 2011
July - September

Beautiful Lies

A man with a cresset was walking around the Warsaw University Library Gardens, whistling and looking into others eyes. He caused astonishment and some interest. This was Łukasz Głowacki, a performer.


Eulalia Domanowska

B. in 1960. Art historian, critic, curator. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Eulalia Domanowska

THE ARTIST HAS CHOSEN PROVOCATION as a method of his artistic action. He referred to Diogenes, a famous cynic, who had been looking for true man, illuminating his path in a daylight. A Greek philosopher contested traditional values and social norms in favor of freedom which he interpreted as frankness to speak and act contrary to unnatural conventions. He rejected science and culture, and limited human existence to its primary nature and elementary needs of life. His tomb features a dog's figure; the latter being also an object of reference of the performer.

                He put a dog's collar around his neck, while fixing its other end to the window bars. Then, he jerked his body and "broke free" from his leash. He drank water and splashed it through his mouth, following the indecent philosopher who used to spit in a similar manner.

                "Performance is like Diogenes' dirty, undomesticated dog spitefully biting one's calves (...)" - observes the artist. He believed that the function of this kind of art is to provoke and ask uncomfortable, uncompromising questions.

                Performers' Meetings, organized during the Museums Night, has been held in the Warsaw University Library Gardens for the fourth time. This has been attended by seven artists; both classics, and budding. They have offered seven, strongly varying actions, that referred to politics, social and cultural norms. They have dealt with art history, philosophy, the situation of women, media, not to mention book conservation. Paweł Korbus has applied carnal aspects and intuition. He wrapped around his body sheets of wet paper and transparent foil, thus undergoing a process of a symbolic "preservation", likewise nearby library collection carefully taken care of. The artist has compared human body - the treasury of nature and spirit - to a library - the treasury of knowledge and culture.

                Corporal overtones have been also visible in the performance by Michał Bałdyga who has illustrated a problem of equilibrium by means of acrobatics. First he was balancing on a chair, next he was standing on his head. The young artist has frequently accentuated his physical disability, making one admire how fit a disabled man can be.

                Audiences could spot a weird caryatid in the garden corner - a woman with a pile of scarves on her head. After a short while the "caryatid" revived and hung scarves on the small bridge openwork fence, thus, developing a visual installation which the author has used as a wardrobe full of garments. Ewa Świdzińska, a performer - reaching to her personal experience - has applied elements of her private, domestic, everyday space from the early 90's. She has used fabrics, makeup articles, clothes. She has been aware of their impact. A nurse uniform, pajamas, a straight jacket, a wedding gown clearly define one's identity. The artist says that "she has been inspired with contemporary commercials, fashion and design.

                This time she presented a story on the tradition to wear a scarf which is a female head cover not only in the Muslim culture. Till recently it had been worn by village women and the 50's and 60's movie stars.

                The presentation by Janusz Bałdyga offered political games with objects. He used flagpoles and flags to illustrate a border ritual of marking a sense of identity. The performance by Ryszard Ługowski, entitled "24 Hours" combined elements of various cultures with a philosophical quality, i.e., time.

                The artist, dressed in a white, Arabic robe, was sitting on sandglasses in a meditative position, cleverly turning the gadgets around. For a number of years now, the performer has shared interest in philosophy and various cultures, commenting current political and social threats and offering utopian solutions bordering on a thin line of humor and irony.

                The "Blowing against the Wind" subtle action showed by Jacek Perszko referred to the blue color of garments worn by Tuareg People. First he applied a blue pigment to be followed by a red pigment which slowly settled on his white attire and skin.

                I believe that the performance of today carries a sense when presented to random audience in public space. Spontaneous response is the best outcome of artistic efforts.

"Beautiful Lies 4th", the Warsaw University Library Gardens, Warsaw, May 17th 2011.