“...thoughtful commentary on the realities in Europe” - The Press on COMMON AFFAIRS at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

The VIEWS Award  is one of the most important prizes for Polish contemporary art. With COMMON AFFAIRS: Revisiting the VIEWS Award  - Contemporary Art from Poland the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle and the Polnisches Institut Berlin jointly presented a selection of works by prizewinners and nominees for the first time. The press continually drew links between the exhibition with the current political situation in the artists’ home country.
“This prize for Polish contemporary art was called into being by Deutsche Bank and Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw and is comparable with the Berliner Preis der Nationalgalerie or the Turner Prize,” writes Irmgard Berner in her review of COMMON AFFAIRS in the Berliner Zeitung. Her conclusion about the show: “These artists repeatedly make the situation in their country critically tangible.” Nina Monecke from taz takes a similar view: “In the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Polish artists not only transform the working conditions in their trade, but above all the past, present, and future of their country. (…) Whether distantly critical or openly political, these artworks are surely not what the Polish government envisions ‘real Poland’ to be like.” In the Berliner Morgenpost Angela Hohmann remarks: “To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the German-Polish Treaty of Good Neighborship, the exhibition looks back at nominees and prizewinners from the very beginnings up to the present day. The German-Polish curator team consisting of Julia Kurz and Stanislaw Welbel chose 17 artists from this circle for an exhibition at two venues in Berlin. The show is entitled COMMON AFFAIRS, reflecting the entire ball of multifaceted relationships of this German-Polish alliance.”  For Weltkunst, Christiane Meixner sums up the exhibition in this way: “The Deutsche Bank KunstHalle and the Polish Institute in Berlin take a concentrated look at Poland’s contemporary art scene.”

For Deutschlandradio Kultur, Carsten Probst praises the show, saying that it “not only relies on big names,” but also “addresses many sensitive issues in Poland right now.” On the same topic, Claudia Wahjudi from the Berlin city magazine Zitty writes: “Although some of the mostly excellent videos, interventions, sculptures, and installations deal with areas such as labor, nationalism, the Church, and homosexuality, the focus is on museums, collections, and the art world.” In her report for the radio station SWR2, Simone Reber asserts: “Whereas Polish art crosses borders as a matter of course, Polish politics falls back on concepts such as nationality. Janek Simon ironically puts ‘real Poles’ on a pedestal. The government and the opposition used this expression to legitimize themselves.” Art counted COMMON AFFAIRS among its “most exciting exhibitions of the week,” and Welt am Sonntag, Tip, Blouin Artinfo, and the website of the Art Collection Telekom, which focuses on contemporary art from eastern and southern Europe, also recommended the show at the KunstHalle.

In Poland the “art scene is virtually the only institution that stands up to government policy,” writes Falk Schreiber in Kulturnews. He adds that while the works in COMMON AFFAIRS “are not immediately recognizable as political opposition, they remain oppositional in a hermetic, roundabout way.” In Kunstforum Manuela Lintl is critical of the exhibition, opining that “conflicts of interest and divergent views do not necessarily contribute to creating a persuasive whole. The potential for resistance sought by the curators is there, but the overall picture is too restrained.” In Neues Deutschland, Tom Mustroph remarks that the VIEWS Award “was important impetus for the contemporary art scene, which was long neglected by the state.” But, he adds, “With all due respect: such a prize alone does not guarantee artistic freedom. At bests, it makes dependencies less monolithic and counters government art policy with a small corrective.”

“The artist Iza Tarasewicz, who was born in 1981 and is currently making her international breakthrough, is known to Berliners from various exhibitions,” says Inge Pett from Art in Berlin. “Her aesthetically appealing work Arena 2 embodies the dialectical principle with which the exhibition reflects on itself. On an abstract level, the artist combines different exhibits – thus the space becomes the ‘stage set’ in which works, energies, and concepts come together and enter into discourse. In Tagesspiegel Christiane Meixner asserts: “The subtitle of the COMMON AFFAIRS exhibition is Revisiting the VIEWS Award, giving the protagonists the opportunity to show the works the way they were when they participated in the competition, to reinterpret the works, or even to show them in a completely different way. The result is much more than a small retrospective that celebrates the prize and shows the winners (…) This project is not viewed as an anniversary show. Rather, it is meant as critical, reflective commentary on the realities in Europe and is well worth seeing.”