Prize for Young Polish Art
Views 2009 at the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw
Ever since 2003, the Prize for Young Polish Art has been awarded every two years—as a joint project between Deutsche Bank Foundation and the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw, where the current nominees for the 15,000 Euro prize currently present their work. This year, a fellowship at the Villa Romana in Florence has been added to further strengthen the link to the international scene.
||Visitors to the Zacheta National Gallery encounter one of the contributions to Views 2009 right in the entrance hall, where Olaf Brzeski has installed his work Little Orphans—the Last Such Specimens (2009), which consists of painted metal objects in glass cases. One of these seems strangely deformed, while on another white paint is peeling off in large flakes. A third vitrine with broken glass and buckled legs looks as though vandals had thrown it down the museum stairs; A Crash on the Museum Stairs (2009) is wedged into the cast-iron railing like a demolished car. The new works of the 1975-born artist carry on in the tradition of the sculptures that made him known—stubbornly individual ceramic works that appear deformed by intense heat. Brzeski's sculptures have clearly seen better days. Ironically, they question conventional ways of presenting artworks as precious and flawless objects. As the only artist not working in the media of film and video, Brzeski is the exception among this year's Views Prize nominees.
The show of works by the nominated artists offers an overview of current trends on the young Polish scene. The irony of past works addressing changes in post-communist society has disappeared. Artists are increasingly concentrating on global themes or subjects intrinsic to art—for instance Anna Molska, who participated in the 5th Berlin Biennale. Molska's video works investigate the cultural conditions of art production, resulting in works as divergent as the heroic ballet in Tanagram (2006–2007), which reflects upon the influence Soviet propaganda and Russian Suprematism exerted on the Polish avant-garde. Or the new version of Hauptmann's The Weavers, which Molska directed in 2009 with Silesian miners. Together with Wojciech Bakowski, whose animated film is also on show in the exhibition, she realized the video Finished for Views 2009. The Deutsche Bank-sponsored project was made in the desolate post-industrial landscape of an abandoned airport.
"Views" was initiated in 2003 jointly by the Deutsche Bank Foundation, Deutsche Bank Polska and Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw. The aim of both the exhibition and the award, which is endowed with 15,000 Euros, is to strengthen the artistic infrastructure in Poland and to attract public attention to promising newcomers. This year, a fellowship at the Villa Romana in Florence has been added to further strengthen the link to the international scene.
While young Poles like Paulina Olowska and Wilhelm Sasnal have already established themselves in the international art establishment, local Polish networks are developing comparatively slowly. Influential collectors and high-profile galleries are still quite rare, and so are substantial prizes and stipends. In keeping with the bank's commitment to art, Views comes considerably closer to the goal of supporting young talent directly and offering it a platform to show work. In 2006, the Polish Ministry of Culture honored Deutsche Bank for its commitment as the "Patron of Culture 2006."
In her performance Ballad on the Zacheta Building, which premieres at Views, Zorka Wollny investigates the turbulent history of the Zacheta National Gallery, which opened in 1903. In 1922, the first president of the Polish Republic, Gabriel Narutowicz, was assassinated in the Warsaw museum, shot by an ultra-nationalist painter during an exhibition opening. Zorka Wollny's work is part of a series of performances that investigate the presentation and perception of artworks in museums. Her most recent video piece circles around a very personal experience: Film Noir (2009) is an adaptation of the artist's nightmare in striking imagery.
Anna Konik's films also explore borderline experiences. Whether she films the theater piece of a schizophrenic psychiatric patient or homeless people in Berlin, her films address longing, isolation, and life on society's fringes, for which she always finds her own individual poetic visual language. On the other hand, Bogna Burska works with appropriated imagery; in the videos of her series A Game with Moving Mirrors, made between 2006 and 2008, she recombines stills from Hollywood productions. The work's title derives from a text by Jorge Luis Borges. And like the Argentinean writer, Bogna Burska also constructs puzzling labyrinths that defy all logic.
A counterproposal to this very artificial world is offered by Wojtek Doroszuk. His video series Reisefieber (2007) is dedicated to the phenomenon of workers' migration and uprooting. In Sümela Restaurant and Cosy-Wasch, he portrays a guest worker that has to make ends meet with poorly paid jobs. The 1980-born artist plays with his own identity as an East European. The videos were made in Berlin—a city of key importance in the turbulent German-Polish history. Ultimately, Doroszuk's works question national identity in a globalized world. Regarding the artists nominated, the question as to who will receive the Views Prize is as eagerly anticipated as ever. The winner will be announced on October 22 at the Zacheta.
Views 2009 - 4th Edition
9/19 – 11/15/2009
Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw