KwieKulik: A Complicated Relation
7 September–23 October 2011
In 1970 Edward Gierek’s new regime expressed a desire for a more open society built on economical reforms, liberalization and democratization. KwieKulik, and other artists around them, embraced the authorities’ rhetoric as a sincere invitation and a common interest in real change. KwieKulik coined the term “soc-art” for this artistic movement and they initiated a number of projects aiming for a dialogue with the government. One work, characteristic of this period, is Proagit 2 (1972), a multimedia event in which the artists proposed, to an invited audience consisting of representatives for the authorities and art professionals, a new direction for the art institutions and new collaborative methods for art practice. In order to be able to be truly political, art could no longer use a language connected to Socialist Realism but had to invent a new radical language corresponding with the radical political changes that the artists aimed for. Included in the event were screenings of the works Alternations of Red and The Path of Edward Gierek (1971). In this work the symbolically charged colour red is juxtaposed with newspaper images of Edward Gierek repeating the same emblematic gestures in different contexts.
In the middle of 1970s it became increasingly obvious that the artists’ position was perceived as truly subversive. The change they advocated was a reinforcement of the socialist values that they felt had been compromised by the socialist state, a change the government had no interest in. As a consequence the complicated relation between the authorities and the artists escalated. Their activities became a means to reveal oppression and the authorities replied with a withdrawal of their passports.
KwieKulik continued their critical activities but they found themselves isolated, both from the direct dialogue with the government and from the art scene at large. This period, during which the duo’s analytical and scientific interests became more significant, coincided with the birth of their son Dobromierz. The extensive body of work that constitutes the base for Activities with Dobromierz (1972–74), almost 900 photographs and slides, was the result of a continued research in visual and spatial form. It can be described as a series of documented installations realized mainly in the artists’ home environment, with objects, household items, fruits, and vegetables, in innumerable configurations, creating a multitude of actual possibilities, and always with their baby son in the centre. Activities with Dobromierz employs mathematical and semiotic principles in a search for the relation between form and life (society).
Activities with Dobromierz was mainly produced in KwieKulik’s home which also functioned as their studio, a gallery, a place for public meetings and the extensive archive they from the beginning of their career built based on their artistic and scientific research. After 1974 the archive became part of the Studio of Activity, Documentation and Distribution (PDDiU). PDDiU was an artwork in itself as well as an institutional critique and a creative answer to the limiting situation they had been forced into. By structuring PDDiU according to their artistic method in general, they inverted the exclusion from public life into its opposite.
With PDDiU KwieKulik constructed a possibility to take advantage of the conditions at hand, an approach that also defines a series of works they did in connection to commissioned pot boiling works. The first work in this series was Activities with AK Kinga Plate (1974) in which they performed one of their Material-Spatial Activities on a sandstone plate designed to “honour of the murdered National Army Soldiers” during the production. Activities with a Tube (1975) belongs to the same group of works. Using the set of a commission for a toothpaste advert, the artists and members of their family conduct a performance with conceptual and visual links to Activities with Dobromierz.
The exhibition will be followed by a publication designed by Pascal Prosek and released in October 2011.
Another part of this exhibition A Complicated Relation, part I, is presented at Kalmar Konstmuseum 3 Sept. – 13 Nov. 2011. A Complicated Relation, part I includes works by Geta Brătescu (Romania), Ion Grigorescu (Romania), Tibor Hajas (Hungary),Tamás St.Auby (Hungary), Mladen Stilinović (Croatia), Raša Todosijević (Serbia) and Goran Trbuljak (Croatia). Curator: Helena Holmberg.
Thanks to The Polish Institute and The Romanian Culture Institute, Stockholm.
A Complicated Relation, part II, which opens 17 September at Kalmar Konstmuseum, is curated by Martin Schibli, Kalmar Konstmuseum. This part of the project will present young artists from, among other countries, Moldavia, Georgia and Belarus. A one-day conference in connection to the show will be held 19 September.