No 4 (88) 2011
October - December

Art Versus Records

The "Save as Art" exhibition, prepared by Karolina Jabłońska and Anka Leśniak, has been one of the accompanying events of the "Art and Records" festival third edition held in Łódź this year in April.

Lena Wicherkiewicz

Historian and art critic, curator. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Lena Wicherkiewicz

THE EXHIBITION TITLE REFERS TO IT TECHNOLOGY, more exactly to the command to enter files in a variety of extension registers. The exposition, offering works by over twenty artists, made a reference to the trend that focuses on various forms of records in a very specific manner. The artists, who participated in the project, analyzed the recording process as such. The pieces showed presented not only reflections on the document and its place in art, but penetrated personal space, remembering aspects, memories, meta artistic thoughts, and last but not least, the manner in which artistic media function.

During the exhibition opening, Anna Kutera showed the "Exploration" performance where she applied her own old photographs overlapped. Thus she "has been exploring" ever older layers to reveal the oldest snapshot from 1972 when she "was born as an artist". Further, Mary Averill, Agnieszka Cholewińska and Maciej Bogdanowicz have dealt with personal archeology. Zygmunt Rytka has approached an area of a "personal archive" in a slightly different manner. He put drawings, collages and verbal comments on the photographs illustrating a private part of his artistic life to underline its informal, occasionally humorous nature ("Private Collection", 1989-2007). Similar climate has been rendered in the "Attention, Records" (1980-1982) by Marek Janiak/ Łódź Kaliska. Norbert Trzeciak supplied an off-the-cuff snapshot with a comment, thus changing its documentary character," Polish Tour in Prague" (2007).

Zbigniews Tomaszczuk, by means of technological processing, intensified a documentary message conveyed by a photograph in the "Spiral of Time" (2009): he has applied a series of old photos to compose one picture with movement sequences written into it.

Some works, displayed on the Łódź exhibition, make a reference to documentary materials with regard to their structure, form and topic. This has been the case of the "Cheap TV" by Krzysztof Żwirblis, who used TV intervention documentaries. An interactive project by Tomasz Konart has been based on information transfer. This has been a computer software; the web page that generates links between personal data, photographs and literary texts. Ewa Surowiec has showed mutually referential videos - "Death x 3" (2009) and "Supernatural Criminal Elements" (2011). The former has borrowed from archive materials used by the artist to develop a quasidocumentary fiction resembling a surreal thriller. The latter, repeating fragments of the former, tells yet another "symphony of terror".

Further, the artists have pondered on artistic records and copies. Bruce Barber has offered a documentation of his performances in the Labyrinth Gallery in Lublin and Culture Center in Łucznica. Piotr C. Kowalski and Joanna Janiak have made a photographic documentation of an actual picture, and revealed the features so far overlooked "Frosty Pictures" (2011). Tomasz Sikorski has translated into a painting language photographic records of his 70's and 80's performances. "The True Colors" by Anka Leśniak has been a test to check possibilities to record colors. The artists and theoreticians, selected by the Anka Leśniak, attempted to describe color scheme of one of the compositions by Władysław Strzemiński. Jerzy Treliński has showed an audio piece from the "SelfTautologies" (around 1972) series where he "read" the text by his own name, and the "Self-Tautologies" (2011). A conceptual media addressed tradition has been recalled by Romuald Kutera whose project has entered into a dialogue with the 1976 piece by Joseph Kosuth.

The "Statistics" (2007) by Izabela Cieszko and "Kidnapped Children" (2011) by Wojciech Jastrzębski have been attempts to "translate" media communiqué into the language of art. Within this group of works one should mention actions to transfer into the zone of art media materials featuring the case against Dorota Nieznalska for offending religious sensibilities - the "Crime" (2003) audio presentation and "Article 196 of Criminal Code" video (2010).

The subject matter of the "Save as Art" exhibition invites a question about the function and motivation behind an interest with various forms of re-cords, and attempts to present them as an artistic issue.

"Save as Art", the Imaginarium Gallery, Łódź Culture Center, Łódź, April - May 2011.