Looking Forward, Looking Back #3
Magda Lipska and Adam Czirak
Monday, March 25, 2019, 19:00
Rezidența BRD Scena9, 32 I.L.Caragiale St., Bucharest
free access, event held in English
The Institute of the Present (IP) continues in 2019 its Lecture Series Looking Forward, Looking Back. The 3rd event is dedicated to questions opened up by the recent historiographies of performance in Eastern European art, which are provoking a theoretical interrogation of the medium’s paradigms of interpretation. The two lectures plead for a contextualised re-reading of performance art in the region, unravelling the material temporalities and the political and social dispositions of a locus under which such gestures emerged. While analysing the social-temporal passage choreographed by the practices of performance, the lectures disclose the embracing of socially and critically oriented strategies, as well as point towards unexpected forms of action and intervention. They also affirm the need to extend the focus towards the operative terms emphasised by Eastern European performance histories and their relations to locally grounded theories.
Magda Lipska. PEOPLE FIRST: Performance Art and Oskar Hansen’s Open Form Theory
The Open Form Theory, Oskar Hansen’s eponymous manifesto, was published in Przegląd Kulturalny (Cultural Review) in 1959. In this text Hansen advocated the necessity of a new art, an “art for our time,” which he would call “the art of events.” In this presentation I will discuss the major assumptions of Hansen’s theory and will show how he subsequently turned it into a tool to educate artists at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw where he was a professor between 1950 and 1983. Passed on to a younger generation of artists, the Open Form Theory evolved into an art of performative actions for which the participation of other people, often random passers-by, the time and space were of crucial importance. Hansen’s teaching method not only influenced his direct students but was later on, through his pupil Grzegorz Kowalski, passed on to a younger generation of artists, and, as I will argue, transformed into a performance art deeply rooted in the local social and political context.
Magda Lipska is a curator and art theoretician. She studied Cultural Sciences at the University of Warsaw and Humboldt University in Berlin, and Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since 2008 she is a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Her recent curatorial projects include: Niepodległe: Women, Independence and National Discourse (2018), Danwen Xing. A Personal Diary (2017), Lest the Two Seas Meet (2015), co-curated with Tarek Abou El Fetouh and After Year Zero (2015), co-curated with Anselm Franke, Annett Busch, and Heidi Ballet. She is also a cofounder, together with André Lepecki and Marta Dziewanska, of Points of Convergence. Performance and Contemporaneity—a research program devoted to the theories and genealogies of performance in the global context.
Adam Czirak. “Just don’t be yourself too much!” Performing Politics in the Former Eastern Bloc
In the last years both artists and scholars of performance art discovered a critical strategy in gestures of withdrawal, in pieces of doing nothing or in choreographies of standing still. All these actions undermine or subvert the hegemonic significance of mobility, movement and productivity as signs of modernistic kinetics: The figure of Bartleby and his credo “I would prefer not to” undergo a new renaissance, the standing man from Taksim Square becomes an icon of protest and the sleeping-performance Artist at Work from 1978, in which Mladen Stilinović paid a tribute to laziness, ended up three years ago as the main subject of Bojana Kunst’s monograph Artist at Work, in which she focuses on the possibilities of subverting capitalistic art productions today. In my lecture I would like to present and analyse some historical pre-figurations of performative gestures of withdrawal, which we can find in a high frequency within the performance scenes of the former Eastern Bloc. Artists from “beyond the Iron Curtain,” who were keen to find moments of political autonomy under socialism, discovered it just in powerless or unconscious states: in performances of sleeping, keeping silent or standing still in the public sphere. Although all these constellations show a loss of sovereignty and agency or appear at first glance apolitical, many artists, however, could formulate in this way a critique on the political repressions of their time. We can understand their interventions not so much as attacks on the system, but rather as attempts to display the conditions and rules of self-determination. Which forms of autonomy can we detect in moments of refusing communication, consciousness and movement? What kind of effects does such melancholic ways of performing politics promise?
Adam Czirak is assistant professor at the Department of Performance Studies at the Freie University Berlin. He wrote his dissertation on participative practices of seeing in intersubjective-based art and has a PhD in Theatre Studies. His research focuses on aesthetics of contemporary theatre, visual culture, dramaturgy, and performance art in the Eastern European Neo-avant-garde. He leads the international Network “Action Art Beyond the Iron Curtain” (www.aktionskunst-jenseits.de) financially supported by the German Research Foundation. In February 2018 he co-curated the comprehensive exhibition Left Performance Histories in the nGbK-Gallery in Berlin. Since 2012 he works also as dramaturge in Naoko Tanaka’s performance productions.
Looking Forward, Looking Back #3 is part of the project Presence, Ritual, Affect: Towards an Anthropology of Movement.
Cultural project co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund.
Partners: Rezidența BRD Scena9/ Fundația9, CEREFREA/ Villa Noël.
Event identity: Sebastian Pren
The project does not necessarily represent the standpoint of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN cannot be held liable for the content of the project or the manner in which the outcomes of the project may be used. These shall devolve entirely on the beneficiary of the financing.