Tag Archives: performance art

The culture of swamp mountaineers in Ostrava – 30 000 – 3000 BC through the perspective of gender studies. Performance at the Malamut Performance Art Festival, Ostrava 2013

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The name Ostrava is etymologically connected with the river Ostra (meaning Sharp), which today bears the name Ostravice. On the website for the city hall in Ostrava we can read that the name is connected with the sharp, brisk flow of the river. However,  in Slavic languages the name Ostrów means an island close to a river surrounded by a swamp (such as Ostrów Tumski, Ostrów Lubelski, Wielkopolski etc.). This interpretation of Ostrava as an “island” is more linguistically logical as it is associated with the terrain and the land occupied rather than the flow of the river which has a secondary meaning for the inhabitants of the town.

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In Polish the noun “Ostrów” is predominantly masculine and only the name Ostrów Mazowiecka is feminine. This means that Ostrava is one of the rare linguistically feminine “islands” and this fact may prove to be very significant for our later deliberations. 

The next name of some importance here is Landeck, which is the name of a Hill in Ostrava and is also the name of both a town in south Tirol in Austria and in Poland. This name always appears in the context of a hill,  a river and swamp.

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In 1953 the archeologist Bohuslav Klima found a figure of Venus, which we now know as the Venus of Landek. It is clearly a cubist figure, just as if it was taken out of a Picasso painting. So here a question arises – why is it cubist and why as the only Venus from the stone age, has it a slim figure? The two possible hypotheses are – the influence of African tribes and… the less popular theory among conservative archeologists – the trans-sexuality of the tribes living in the region of Ostrava.

Hunting, wars and the drastic changes of living conditions favoured the use of force and violence. This in turn developed a cult focusing upon the fertility of fat women, who then were supposed to provide descendants – sons, ready to conquest and expand.

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Hence we have the Venus of Willendorf.

The Venus of Landek questions this interpretation of the living conditions of the past in the Ostrava region. Maybe the culture in pre-historical Ostrava was a more complex structure?

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Historiography says much about the expansion of Rome, mentions Tatar and Turkish invasions, but we know very little about the expansion of pre-Egyptian African “R” tribes in Europe. In the fight for existence of pre-historic tribes, values such as love, community and creativity were important. The reality in Ostrava  therefore was supposedly a world without wars and aggression. The trans-sexuality of the inhabitants seems to be quite obvious in this context. Later, for example during the great march of the Celts through Europe, who possessed a higher level of civilization, people shared similar viewpoints and believed in similar values. But later Rome and the Vatican changed Europe forever. 

Going in that direction, one could suspect that trans-sexuality was a primary and natural form of mankind, which very slowly changed into the heterosexual forms of today. 

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Egyptians for example believed in the Hare. They worshipped it, because they believed that every year the hare changes its sex. On the slide we can see a contemporary re-enactment by an Egyptian – man-woman worshipping a hare, (the hare by the way understands nothing about pictures). So based on the beliefs of the Egyptians, we may form a thesis that primary people were changing their sex every year or so, during another given period of time. In the light of these assumptions we cannot be sure if Venus of Petrkovice is a woman or in fact a slim male form.

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Based on DNA examination, we know that the genetic or Mitochondrial Eve lived 200 thousand years ago in Africa and that…

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… the genetic, or chromosomal Adam, the common ancestor of the portion of Y chromosome that passes from father to son, lived roughly 100 thousand years ago. So roughly 100 000 years after Eve…

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If we take a look at a 2 meter measuring tape representing 200 000 years of humankind and imagine, that Eve appeared in centimeter number 1, Adam shows up somewhere in the middle of the tape. This of course completely shakes our knowledge of the world, and the issue is not about arguing with Judaism or Christianity but about the question – how did a human being reproduce for 100 000 years before Adam? How did subsequent women come into being from existing women and what happened in genetics that this reproduction became an anachronism and the chromosomal Adam emerged? These questions remain unanswered, but they force us to question the conservative mainstream of the discourse of historiography.

Now here one must also mention the very important center of upper Paleolithic civilization in Europe which was Dolni Vestonice in Moravia.

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The site is well known for the figure of the Venus of Dolni Vestonice from around 29-25 000 BC. This figurine, together with a few others from nearby locations, is the oldest known ceramic object in the world. In 1981, Patricia Rice studied a multitude of female clay figurines found at Dolni Vestonice, believing them to represent fertility in this society. She challenged this assumption by analyzing all the figurines and found that, “it is womanhood, rather than motherhood that is symbolically recognized or honored”. This discovery challenged the widely held assumption that all prehistoric female figurines were created only to honor fertility, which is in accordance with our previous theory relating to the Venus of Petrkovice. 

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When talking about the Dolni Vestonice – very few people know that the oldest proof of using herbal threads in Europe (from around 30 000 BC) comes from this area. Most likely the threads were made of nettles. The discovery, that weaved threads are stronger than straight will soon help to influence how to weave linen. From here also came the oldest textiles in Europe, from around 7000 BC. But Dolni Vestonice in Moravia is important for us mainly because it was also an ancient centre of swamp mountaineers indicated in the title of this lecture. 

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We can see a link between Dolni Vestonice and Ostrava in another artifact found on the Landek Hill, which is also made of woven threads. It is an interesting object from the corded culture period (on the map we see how it expanded in Europe). 

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The object was found by a group of German archeologists in 2003. It can be dated about 3000 BC. It has the shape of a mobius – infinity. On one end it has something that resembles a globe, one half presents oceans and the other – lands or landeks. The mobius sign may also mean the universe. 

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On opposite poles of land we have two signs which today mean a group or community on Skype. It may mean that the tribes living in ancient Ostrava knew or believed that on earth there were 4 tribes and knew that the earth was round – 4500 years before Galileo and Copernicus! This mysterious discovery has provoked a worldwide  sensation, but is not yet documented well enough to create a trustworthy theory. 

So we can try to make an experiment. People very easily get rid of their primary characteristics, but not animals. Animals do not migrate apart from the exception of birds. 

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Emil – the dog from Ostrava is a descendant of the ancient dogs that have lived together with human beings in this very region. So let’s give him this corded object (it is a replica of course, from Homebase in the UK) and we’ll see if Emil gets interested. If he ignores it, it means that it has no tie with Ostrava, but if not, it will mean that his primary instincts indicate that it is a well known object. 

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It turns out that traces of the culture of swamp mountaineers have also been found today in the regions of Pomerania in Poland. It is highly probable, since around sand dunes there are bogs – as you can see on the map – in the south bank of Lake Łebsko and the east bank of Lake Gardno. They show up as a result of the pressure of millions of tons of sand from dunes on ground water which raises and creates swamps. 

I interpret it as a very interesting case illustrating the migration of R1a and R1b tribes from Europe back to Africa where the human being first appeared. That massive move of R1 tribes is even very obscure for contemporary historians today.

To end this lecture I will show the DVD of a film that was accidentally recorded by Prof. Jurgen von Sranz when he was in Poland, on the dunes in Łeba… 

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… where gen. Erwin Rommel (who could be described as a representative of the R1b tribe) trained his expeditionary force the Afrika Korps. Prof. Sranz states, that he recorded swamp mountaineers who live around the dunes in Pomerania.

See the DVD: http://youtu.be/_8pQMuGjodI

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

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Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Photo: Dariusz Fodczuk

Interakcje

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Performance has been considered the most energising type of art of the 20th century, nevertheless, today it is interpreted in a specific way, completely different than in the early 70’s. Further, at present it has been subject to commercial manipulation.

A HUGE ABYSS between the commercial world’s pretending performance art and performance art itself is a certain fact. In my conversation with Fabio Cavallucci I heard an opinion that “performance art festivals present third rate artists and one does not have to keep searching for new performers, as the choice has already been made.” I decided to test this false statement expressed by Mr Cavallucci that questions the open nature of performance, during the festival in Piotrków Trybunalski. The festival of “third rate artists”, who are never perfect.

Low-budget performance art festivals irritate commercial (and institutional) curators who are promoting performance celebrities according to their own scheme. The festival meetings always propose a whole variety of art, multiple contexts, openness and lack of compromise towards the way the world is evaluated. Here the creation of celebrities is false and banal.

Full version of the text was published in Exit, No 3 (95) 2013. http://kwartalnik.exit.art.pl/article.php?edition=50&id=827&lang=en

INSTRUMENTS OF WAR by Manuel Vason, Anne Seagrave, Dariusz Fodczuk, Stuart Brisley, Alastair MacLennan, Wladyslaw Kazmierczak & Ewa Rybska, Suka OFF, Helen Spackmann, Joshua Sofaer, Sachiko Abe, Ronald Fraser Monroe and Franko B.

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Between March 22nd and April 19th in the gallery BWA Sokol, Nowy Sącz, Poland a photography exhibition by Manuel Vason was presented. It was titled RE-PERFORMANCE. Between performance and photography, and I had the pleasure to curate this exhibit. Since I am not in a position to write a critical text about an exhibition which I curated, I would like to merely document the show and the performances that took place during the opening. These were performances by Dariusz Fodczuk and Anne Seagrave – one of the artists featured in the exhibition.

During the exhibition photos of international cutting edge performance artists were shown: Stuart Brisley, Anne Seagrave, Alastair MacLennan, Władysław Kaźmierczak & Ewa Rybska, Suka OFFduo, Helen Spackmann, Joshua Sofaer, Sachiko Abe, Ronald Frazer Munroe and Franko B. In accordance with the spirit of the collaborative aspect of the photos, I treated the exhibition as a group show by Manuel Vason and the performance artists presented in the photos. An important element of the presentation were the displayed statements of these artists outlining their thoughts about the collaboration process with Manuel Vason.

The full version of the text was published at: http://livinggallery.info/text/vason

A new performance art festival on performers’ world map: OFFSCENICZNY Festival of Performative Activities (April 11-13th, 2013) in Czestochowa, Poland.

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Until very recently when we thought of “Czestochowa”, the concept of ‘contemporary art’ would be our very last association. Not without reason. Perhaps it would be better to forget about the artwork of Jerzy Duda-Gracz from Czestochowa and the Museum of Zdzislaw Beksinski is better avoided by each contemporary art lover who cares anything at all about art.

As we look through the program of the Municipal Gallery in Czestochowa we can see what we have there: an exhibition entitled Contemporary landscape, an exhibition of the Drawing and Graphics Biennale from Kalisz, an exhibition entitled Landscape by Artur Śpiewak (painting) and an exhibition by two allegedly exceptionally talented but unknown artists produced in co-operation with the International Graphics Triennial Association in Krakow. The artists and their art are non-threatening, non-controversial, academic, aesthetic and even decorative. The exhibits do not conflict with the Holy Mary Sanctuary in Jasna Gora, which is close to the gallery. Neither do they conflict (unfortunately) with the giant figure of the former Pope which now stands in the park of sacral miniatures. At times we could say there are some similarities. What else is happening in contemporary art in Czestochowa? Well, the Art Department of the Jan Dlugosz Academy published a beautiful album about marine painters.

The last time that cutting edge performance artists performed in the Municipal Gallery was in 1997 (Jan Świdziński, Marek Chołoniewski, Władysław Kaźmierczak, Piotr Wyrzykowski, Dariusz Fodczuk and Wojciech Kowalczyk). Does this mean that the only presence of performance art in Czestochowa should be the memory of that event and the fact that the artist Arti Grabowski studied here for a while? Does this mean that when the public would like to see contemporary art they must always have to buy a bus ticket to Warsaw, Krakow or at least nearby Bytom? No.

The full version of the text was published at: http://livinggallery.info/text/offsceniczny

Ephemeral Fixed – pre-event at F.A.I.T (Krakow)

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March 14th, 2012 at F.A.I.T (Krakow) – pre-event of the “Ephemeral Fixed” event featuring: Daniel Dida and Linda van Dalen (performance) and the show of documentation by Anne Seagrave, Wladyslaw Kazmierczak & Ewa Rybska and an independent video work by Peter Valyi

Peter Grzybowski CHANGES. Art or Documentation?

Peggy Phelan once wrote: Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance. To the degree that performance attempts to enter the economy of reproduction it betrays and lessens the promise of its own ontology…. The document of a performance then is only a spur to memory, an encouragement of memory to become present.

Performance artists of the 70s and beginning of the 80s generally did not care about the documentation of their work and the performances were to take place only once. Grzybowski, however, was already a performance artist, whilst still a student of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. His diploma work was a “painterly documentation” of paintings based on photographs taken during his performances. The photos to be re-created as paintings were of a technically low quality, usually out of focus, but they had an aesthetic sense. The preparation of performance art “documentation” in the form of painting is surprising even today. As Lukasz Guzek wrote: […] making art based on documentation causes a situation, in which the starting point of creating art refers to a form, not “making meaning”, and this means that the vector of artistic searches which began in Kosuth’s conceptualism and postmodern practices has been reversed.

The paintings by Peter Grzybowski shown during the exhibition Changes in Piotrkow Trybunalski (curator: Paulina Olszewska) are based on performances which are known to a very narrow audience. These performances have never been repeated, so an exhibition of their painterly “documentation” provides the first opportunity to view the beginnings of Grzybowski’s art, including performance. The paintings exhibited come from three series, and include Painting from 1981 (Pod Reka Students’ Club, Krakow), Cummulation from 1982 (from an event organised during martial law in his own studio in Krakow) and Red Lights from 1984 (performance for camera, without audience). Among them only the last series was exhibited in the 80s, in Buffalo, NY and the paintings look very fresh even today. […]

The full version of the text was published at: http://www.livinggallery.info/text/changes_show

Performance

Performance is live art, it is time based and it happens in a specific place. A performer (or a group of performers) by connecting a space, site and time, undergoes an action that is presented to the public. In very specific cases the public may not be present or the notion of a public may not be clear. The action itself can also be unspecific and the presence or absence of a performance artist may also be unclear. The essence of a performance shifts the attention of a spectator towards the process of creation. This process provokes spontaneous reactions in him/her, causes strong tension and prepares the ground for direct encounter in which a physical, psychic and mental interaction is strongly experienced.

Performance art in its early stage, when it was on the margin of art practice, was presented in spaces that were of minor importance, degraded, abandoned and unimportant for commercial art ventures. In Poland the process was similar – performance artists avoided so called official galleries that were institutionally controlled by censorship and politicians. However, performers through undertaking their counterculture actions, were actually coming closer to existing institutions, galleries, theatres and clubs in order to continue more successfully in art. Having initially existed outside of a conventional frame, performance art unexpectedly became a mighty power, able to express important and critical statements.

The idea of creating site specific performance appeared much later and was inspired by the earlier experiences of sculptors and architects. Art institutions willingly joined the process of creating and preparing such performances – bringing artists out of the galleries.

For performers the choice and the specifics of the site has always had a fundamental importance. This is not only with reference to the sites’ physicality and apparent contexts. The site may also comprise a spirituality, history or events that were important or associated with specific people. Artists constantly have searched for new places to meet new audiences or subject themselves to inspiration that they have not experienced before.

Site specific performance is most often time-based over an extended time. The interaction with a spectator or another member of the public is in this way fuller, analytic, reflexive and emotionally similar for all participants. Site specific performance is also a rewarding experience for an artist, who while making a performance that lasts a few hours, has to overcome loneliness, extremes of temperature, smell, humidity, rain, the discomfort of flies, insects or an accidental crowd of a few thousand teenagers coming back from a rock concert! An artist may be prone to strange questions, as site specific performance highlights the previous absence of live action in the same space.

Site specific performance may appear as a result of coincidental circumstances or as the result of an offered available space. A site specific performance may be a few hours of minimalist action or a short dynamic expression by a performance artist.

In site specific performance there is a mutual interaction between the context, the making of an idea and the very structure of the performance. Performers often search for specific places and original contexts in order to better present their ideas or discover a whole new sense. A specific context may become the inspiration and the beginning of a new performance. The question of taking an environment into account, however, is more complicated, since in performance one may talk about various contexts. A context may be outlined by the reaction of the public or indicated by one’s own body or dress, used images, signs or items. A context may be created by a performer, a public, an accidental event during the performance, the specific site, its past, the art of other artists, political events or with reference to some other reality. […]

Full version of the text was published in Performance, Intermedia, ed. Grażyna Teodorowicz, Szczecin: Stowarzyszenie OFFicyna, 2011, 4-9.

Anne Seagrave

 

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Anne Seagrave (born 1962 in Nottingham, UK) is one of the most recognised performance artists in Europe. Her work is dance based and she has presented performances since 1982, often accompanied by original video-installations and audio recordings. She has performed in Great Britain, Ireland, Poland, Holland, Belgium, Spain, France, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, USA, Argentina, Uruguay and Israel. Since 2009 she has lived in Krakow.

Dariusz Fodczuk & Peter Grzybowski at Préavis de Désordre Urbain, September 18th-25th 2010, Marseille

Dariusz Fodczuk

Préavis de Désordre Urbain is an International Laboratory Festival of Performance, created in Marseille (2007) by Redplexus network, in which performance artists are invited to explore public and urban space, provoke, cause chaos and disruption. Radical, subversive and poetical actions are encouraged and it is expected that the audience will go through unexpected experiences.

Clearly questions like “how far we can go in disrupting a public space?” or “what kind of disorder and why?” are not only being treated as art issues “tested in reality” during the Festival, but they are also being discussed during meetings in bars with town planners, sociologists, psychiatrists, politicians, policemen etc. What comes out of these discussions is another story, because the artists’ way of thinking is and always will be totally unconventional.

The entire text was published at: http://www.livinggallery.info/text/marseille

Idea

Apart from the question “what is performance art?”, an equally important one is: “When did you make your first performance?” The answers would make our performance art timeline more precise. Art historians do not agree when performance art emerged; in various publications on the matter we come across various timelines that are being imposed by art historians, hence the question is being addressed to the artists themselves. Please make your answer as precise as possible. You can add some other historical facts concerning your career in performance that are important to you, as well as photos documenting it. The results of our research will be a base for scholarly work in the magazine Art and Documentation and a source of information for critics, theoreticians and all those who write about performance art. All texts will be published in English at http://www.livinggallery.info and in the magazine Art and Documentation in Polish.

Please, send your statements and photos to: malgorzata@mkazmierczak.com