Views 2015: An Interview with Curators
Katarzyna Kołodziej and Magdalena Komornicka

Initiated in 2003 as a cooperative project with Deutsche Bank, the bank’s foundation, and the Zachęta National Gallery in Warsaw, the “Views” Prize has become the most important award for contemporary Polish art. The curators Katarzyna Kołodziej and Magdalena Komornicka on the significance of “Views” for the young Polish art scene, this year’s nominees and their exhibition at the Zachęta.
How important are the Deutsche Bank Awards for the young Polish art scene?
This is the seventh edition of the Views – Deutsche Bank Award competition! The first one took place in 2003, so it’s a tradition stretching back twelve years. Views is the oldest and most important – and today virtually the sole – competition for young artists in Poland offering such a significant financial award. For young artists, the award, both financially and in terms of prestige, means a great deal and, we believe, has an impact on their subsequent careers. Looking at the artistic paths of the competition’s finalists and laureates so far, it is possible to recapitulate the last decade in Polish contemporary art. Paweł Althamer, Paulina Ołowska, Rafał Bujnowski, Monika Sosnowska, Anna Molska, Konrad Smoleński, and Agnieszka Polska were young artists who were noticed by the organizers of “Views.” Today these artists, along with many others, have had exhibitions at MoMA New York, Tate London, and the Venice Art Biennale.

How would you characterize this year’s nominees?
This year’s “Views” competition exhibition is a presentation of five individualities: Alicja Bielawska, Ada Karczmarczyk, Piotr Łakomy, Agnieszka Piksa, and Iza Tarasewicz. The art of Alicja Bielawska can be described as a poetry of objects. The artist creates her sculptures using simple metal constructions and textiles. The resulting objects d’art, seemingly functional and of familiar shapes, are transformed by the artist, removed from everyday contexts and mental stereotypes. Bielawska explores the material world, marveling at it and questioning it, searching for the unique in ordinary objects. Rather than referring to specific narratives, stories or anecdotes, she is interested in the viewer’s individual experience.
Ada Karczmarczyk treats her art as an avant-garde-style evangelization mission. Performing under the stage name ADU, styled as a Catholic pop-music superstar, she composes, records, and publishes on her video blog songs and music videos that are a new proposition of religious art. With her affirmative attitude, she seeks to inspire spiritual reflection in the viewer. The work presented at the “Views 2015” exhibition project takes up the issue of the feminine nature of the Church. Referring to biblical quotations comparing Christ to the Bridegroom and the Church to the Bride, Karczmarczyk creates images of the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Churches, accentuating the differences between them. The Brides is a project that adds an ecumenical context to her evangelization mission.
The installation by Piotr Łakomy featured in the “Views 2015” exhibition combines the artist’s theoretical and formal investigations to date. It was inspired by the Endless House, a fundamental design by architect Frederick Kiesler and an idea of interaction between man, the environment, and technology. Łakomy’s installation refers to Kiesler’s concept of perceiving architecture as a human organism. The tent lamp is made of a light-sensitive fabric, through which one can see a pulsating light imitating the rhythm of human breathing. Appearing in many of the artist’s works, here light becomes an element that builds and defines architecture. The tent’s form alludes to the other objects (vest, life jacket, coverings) and to the idea of building “protective housings for body parts” using contemporary materials.
Agnieszka Piksa operates at the interface between word and visuality, creating narrative drawings, comics, and visual essays. She uses a simple line, seeking to lend shape to the word and exploring its plasticity. She draws comics based on literary and academic texts, legends, poems, dreams, and e-mails. She illustrates text “against” its content, as it were, forsaking narrative linearity. Piksa’s stories have no beginning or end; they are collections of enumerated events in space, with the artist seeking to establish visual rules to introduce order to the chaotic reality. To this end, she draws diagrams and concept graphs, trying to describe the indescribable. Text-based works also dominate in the Tropes project presented at Zachęta, whose title refers to both the process of tracking and to a term from music theory denoting a kind of opus that expands on a pre-existing theme.
Iza Tarasewicz considers the artistic process to be an instrument for gaining knowledge, for transforming and recycling it. She creates objects and three-dimensional installations that are subject to constant transformations, providing ever-new information. The work TURBA, TURBO presented in the “Views 2015” exhibition project is a development of the artist’s recent preoccupations with chaos theory, information and matter compression, and the visual effects of those processes. The starting point here was a modernist round flowerbed that Tarasewicz associates with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva – a machine that accelerates elementary particles to nearly the speed of light and makes them collide with each other. Tarasewicz’s work is an abstract equivalent of a collision of particles that produces chaos.

In what way do they represent the young generation of Polish artists?
We believe that it is not the purpose of such competitions to portray an entire generation of artists. For example, painting has been missing from the “Views” competition shows for several years now. This year’s dominant trend is a preoccupation with the object, with the material and form of installation or sculpture. Despite the differences between the artists nominated, there are certain correspondences between the practices of Alicja Bielawska, Piotr Łakomy, and Iza Tarasewicz, shared preoccupations and affinities in their thinking about form, space, and the viewer’s role in the creative process. But Ada Karczmarczyk eludes such similiarities with the video performances she publishes on her video blog, as does graphic artist Agnieszka Piksa, also a blogger. It is therefore possible, to a certain extent, to speak of general trends or preoccupations among the young generation of Polish artists, but this is certainly not the full spectrum of the phenomena present on the Polish art scene.

Are there certain similarities in the form or content of their works?
Alicja Bielawska, Iza Tarasewicz and Piotr Łakomy share an interest in space. They interpret, arrange, and appropriate it, inviting the viewer to step inside. For Bielawska and Tarasewicz, space and the viewer are an element of the work itself; they are both interested in the viewer interacting with their sculptures, in achieving communication through them. For Łakomy, the viewer becomes part of the landscape that the artist creates at a specific place and time. Error, transformation, and chance fascinate both Bielawska and Tarasewicz. Both use simple, everyday materials: Tarasewicz natural, organic, primal and raw ones, Bielawska everyday, ordinary, household ones. Relying on basic materials, Łakomy introduces technology to his works, yet it is still basic and commonly available. Another shared characteristic are the similar aesthetics of the three artists mentioned above as well as Agnieszka Piksa: a formal minimalism, a turn towards abstraction. Bielawska leaves a lot of interpretational freedom to the viewer, suggesting and proposing but not demanding, while Tarasewicz provides information, explains, yet also encourages reflection. Łakomy is geared to viewer participation, and Piksa to telling stories, which she, however, deconstructs and distorts, inducing us to scrutinize the ideas underpinning them. The work of Ada Karczmarczyk resists such comparisons; her projects are part of an evangelizing, or proselytizing, mission, through which she wishes to give the viewer some food for thought and suggest the possibility of a better life.

What is your curatorial concept for the exhibition?
Since this is a competition exhibition, we decided that our intention was to allow the artists to present new projects on equal terms. We focused on paying heed to the needs and expectations of the artists nominated. The show’s final shape was influenced by the specificity of each of the works. We decided not to separate the works from each other, allowing them instead to resound, to coexist in a shared space. We believe the effect is very interesting and the works correspond nicely with each other.

Views 2015 — Deutsche Bank Award
September 8 –November 15, 2015
Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
Oktober 22 - Award Ceremony