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The project is sponsored
by the Visegrad Fund

Czeskie Centrum

Hungarian Cultural Institute in Warsaw


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It happens

As part of the project there took place 2 performance art nights by invited artists from Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Invited artists:

Jiri Suruvka, Marek Prazak, Jana Zimcikova (CZ)
Jozsef R. Juhasz, Daniel Dida, Linda van Dalen (SK)
Balint Sombati, Imre Denes, Peter Valyi (HU)
Jozef Robakowski, Adam Klimczak, Anka Lesniak (PL)

The meeting officially started on March 15th, at 6 pm with a performance entitled "A sign of the times" by Adam Klimczak, the owner of the host Wschodnia Gallery. It was kind of an introduction to the subsequent actions. Klimczak started his performance on the ground floor of a staircase (the Gallery is on the first floor). Crawling up the stairs on his knees, at each step he listed a sequence of dates - from the date the Gallery emerged (1984) to 2012. Then he entered the gallery and walked around it, touching the Gallery walls and listing the names of all the artists who presented their art in the space. Among the listed artists there were Jan Berdyszak, Mimmo Catania and Peter Downsborough. It's worth mentioning that the Wschodnia Gallery organised the well known Construction in Process festival and during the time of communism and the iron curtain, this gallery was a kind of bridge between Polish and foreign artistic communities.

Adam Klimczak Adam Klimczak Adam Klimczak
Adam Klimczak Adam Klimczak Adam Klimczak

After Adam Klimczak there was a performance by Marek Prazak from the Czech Republic, who presented a musical performance that included voice modification effects and the use of props like a cello and a huge suitcase out of which he took some items. The performance was entitled "A Mass for Poland". It was an adaptation of the composition "Missa de Profundis" interpreted by the artist. The action was based on the absurd and that is why it evoked associations with Dada and Cabaret Voltaire. The artist, dressed in shining "decorative clothes", resembled a bard, shaman or a minister, but the image was a grotesque figure at the same time. The action was very dynamic, full of unexpected turns. It was funny and scary at the same time.

Marek Pra_ak Marek Pra_ak Marek Pra_ak
Marek Pra_ak Marek Pra_ak Marek Pra_ak

For the entire evening there was a durational performance by Daniel Dida from Slovakia entitled "Take away breath". One could take away the artist's breath in the form of a transparent plastic bag blown into by Dida. He filled subsequent bags with his breath and left them in various spots in the Gallery. At the end of the day there were so many of them that they formed a kind of "in situ" installation. This simple action of Dida's, based on one gesture, provokes questions about the essence of ephemeral art; even if it leaves objects or documentations, the basis of its creation and reception is the presence of the action in this particular place and time.

Daniel Dida Daniel Dida Daniel Dida

Peter Valyi from Hungary presented a performance entitled "Strong Nations". He asked four people from four countries to read the lyrics of their national anthem. The "nations' representatives" were Jiri Suruvka (Czech), Gordian Piec (Poland), Linda van Dalen (Slovakia) and Katalin Balazs (Hungary). The anthems were read simultaneously. The loudest was Gordian Piec's reading (maybe because Poland has the largest territory out of the four Visegrad countries). Jiri Suruvka put in the most heart and creativity in his anthem. In fact, Peter Valyi's performance started earlier - during the lunch in a restaurant. The artist waited until everyone left the table, then gathered up and ate all the leftovers. He recorded a video on his cell phone from this situation and on the same phone he presented this video in the Gallery.

Péter Valyi Péter Valyi Péter Valyi

Linda van Dalen (Slovakia) performed her action with the co-operation of Emil - Jiri Suruvka's dog. Out of dog food she formed words on the floor. It was difficult to read them, as Emil ate them immediately. Then she painted the same words with white paint on the white walls: "I breathe, I feel, I came here to live", a reference to her asthma. When the paint dried, the words became invisible. Just like Dida, the artist touched upon the subject of presence and fleetingness, bringing to mind the saying "carpe diem".

Linda van Dalen Linda van Dalen Linda van Dalen
Linda van Dalen Linda van Dalen Linda van Dalen

The evening ended with a performance by Jiri Suruvka. It was a coincidence, that Suruvka was going to perform once again in Lodz two weeks later - in the Manhattan Gallery. Therefore he suggested a performance in episodes entitled: "Jorje, the life of an artist - a soap opera". His action started with a story about his mother, who began to look at the world from the perspective of a soap opera. The Latino artist "Jorje" from the title was in fact Suruvka (Jiri is Jorje in Spanish). According to people's imagination and what is often shown on TV, an artist is a guy who sits at an easel and paints a model. A model should of course be naked and fulfill a lot of roles in the artist's life. The artist is constantly tired and it's hard for him to finish his work and therefore to sell it. Even if he finishes his work, no one knows if he finds a client to buy it. The task is difficult, a portrait has to be as good as Mona Lisa, in order to please the buyer's taste. Other heroes of the soap opera were a model, art merchant, police woman, punk, domina-woman and death. The roles were "played" by members of the public. There was no script, so Suruvka's action thanks to the audience's intervention, turned into a never-ending story. Here also the context of place and the element of the unexpected in art action had their meaning. The main prop was Suruvka's easel, owned by Adam Klimczak. But because the last time Klimczak had used his easel was when he was in the art school (and since then it remained in the basement), it almost fell apart when it was unfolded for Suruvka's action.

Jiri Suruvka Jiri Suruvka Jiri Suruvka
Jiri Suruvka Jiri Suruvka Jiri Suruvka

The second evening of performance art began with the action of Anka Lesniak in co-operation with the PUL Group (Paulina and Ula Korwin-Kochanowski and Ludwik). The main part of the action took place in a corridor covered with a black cloth. The audience was asked to enter from the staircase one person at a time. They saw three women - one naked with her eyes covered and two totally covered like Muslim women, with only eyes uncovered. A CD played one sentence that had been recorded: Take a lipstick and write on my body the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word "woman". Then each spectator received two pieces of paper joined with a pin. He/she was requested to keep quiet and not to unpin the paper until the action ends. Then each spectator entered the main room of the gallery, where there was a video projection with body imprints of the artist and words like: freedom, independence, money, power_ In the end, Lesniak entered the main room as well and on the wall placed a sentence: Which of these words have you written?

Anka Le_niak Anka Le_niak Anka Le_niak

Then there was an action by Jana Zimcikova from the Czech Republic. Her performance was based on one gesture. As her prop the artist used ladies tights. One pair she wore normally - on her legs, the other on her arms and head. She tried to free herself from the layers that were limiting her movements. In the end the tights were torn and she gained back her freedom. This is how she ended the action.

Jana Zimcikova Jana Zimcikova Jana Zimcikova

Balint Sombati from Hungary made a performance which was very economic with gestures. He sat on a table and showed the audience a colourful heart made of ginger bread into which he placed a mirror. To the rhythm of a love song, he ate the heart until only the mirror remained. Then he started to cut his fingers with the mirror and then, in a complete silence, smeared the blood on his cheeks marking tears. The combination of a frosted mirror heart and true blood is a bold contrast. On one hand it may be kitsch, on the other it may symbolise, love and suffering - very often inseparable emotions. Whose reflection is in the mirror? The artist's or our own?

Balint Sombati Balint Sombati Balint Sombati

Next we saw a performance by Imre Denes from Hungary. The artist based his performance on sounds, gestures and the use of symbolic materials such as grains and milk. The performance resembled a ritual. The longest part of the action was the moment when Denes stood under a plastic bag hanging from the ceiling which was filled with milk that dripped on his head. He was showing various gestures with his hands and the action was accompanied by music composed of far-eastern sounds. The artist also used props reminiscent of far-eastern culture, for example artificial, song birds. He spilled grains on the gallery's floor to end his action.

Imre Denes Imre Denes Imre Denes
Imre Denes Imre Denes Imre Denes

Jozsef R. Juhasz presented a performance entitled "Trust 2012". He started by using nails. He moved around chosen people from the audience, with the 30 cm nails. Meantime he wrote on an illuminated screen words, that in the end made a sentence "If you see something, say something" (which is the sentence that one may come across in the New York subway system after the 11/9 attacks). He approached a cube consisting of a few blocks of paper and he drew on the edge a paragraph symbol. Then he put two nails to his eyes and asked a person from the public to blindfold him with a white band. He undressed himself and stood for a while holding nails in one hand and a piece of paper in the other which had the sentence written on it.

Jozsef R. Juhasz Jozsef R. Juhasz Jozsef R. Juhasz
Jozsef R. Juhasz Jozsef R. Juhasz Jozsef R. Juhasz

The evening was finished by Jozef Robakowski who presented the documentation of his performance "I'm electric", in which he subjected himself to electricity of higher and higher voltage, increased by the members of the audience (the performance was done in a tv studio). As he mentioned, the impulse for the action was the fact that he suffered an electric shock in the past. After that Robakowski presented one work from a series of performances to camera that are characteristic for him. On the video we saw the artist with his head laying on a keyboard. Moving his head he produced low, monotonous sounds. The sounds encouraged his cat to participate in the action. Walking on the keyboard made his "cat's music".

Jozef Robakowski Jozef Robakowski Jozef Robakowski

a report prepared by Lodz-art

translation: Malgorzata Kazmierczak, Anne Seagrave

photos: Norbert Trzeciak, Jerzy Grzegorski, Adam Klimczak, Pawel Hartman, Malgorzata Kruszyniak, Anka Lesniak

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