19 Jun Polen Performance Gemalt
participants: Marta Grabowska, Paulina Hrabia, Magdalena Kućka, Natalia Nikoniuk, Adrianna Szadzińska, Martyna Szczurek, Marta Polończyk, Dominika Wąsik
curator: Tomek Pawłowski
curatorial cooperation: Aleksander Celusta, Michał Sroka
Polen Performance Gemalt is the first individual exhibition of the duo established by Justina Los and Mikołaj Sobczak in 2015, and a peculiar retrospective of their work to date. For the purpose of the exhibition, female and male students at the Henryk School of Drawing and Painting, operating at the Henryk Gallery, have been invited to create paintings based on visual materials selected by Polen Performance documenting their performances and actions, including: Deutschlandtransport; Vernissage Services; [Polen] Performance Goes Snapchat; and Polen Performance Paranormal. The production of paintings was preceded by “Polen Performance in art”, a lecture discussing pivotal themes in the duo’s work, namely, institutional critique and the position of young artists in the system of artistic production and in social media. The performers’ output thus became a species of ‘still life’ made up of photographs and descriptions of their respective activities.
In relation to future candidates of art academies, the message delivered by Polen Performarnce could prove to be a form of warning with regards to rules governing the institutionalised field of art. The duo, employing a series of self-referential allusions, hyperboles and a sense of humour, comments on the artistic reality from the vantage point of new-comers; they disclose the mechanisms of power and the dominant hierarchies, drawing particular attention to labour relations and the economic status of visual artists. Because art-making according to Polen Performance amounts to brand-building and a constant confirmation of its value. At certain times it becomes acrobatics, it is a stage show at others, then it consists in leaflet distribution, and ends up being a souvenir production, interview-giving, myth-construction and solicitations for visibility.
Polen Performance provides its services in (white-cube) white uniforms with their yellow logo, making use of spatial and situational context for every action. Often their very situating in a specific configuration speaks not only about their own position, but also about institutions employing the artists. This time is no different. Polen Performance Gemalt is as much an exhibition about the duo’s oeuvre as it is about the Henryk and ‘his’ School. The Henryk Gallery is distinguished from other independent art institutions by its grassroots educational activity in the form of the Henryk School of Drawing and Painting. It carries out a community-making mission, while being an alternative business model that sustains a stable functioning of the gallery. So far the two areas of our activity have been isolated. For the first time in the history of the Henryk Gallery, the exhibition is going to present the achievement of female and male trainees of the School.
The exhibition is co-financed by the Municipality of Krakow. www.krakow.pl