The polish artist Cezary Bodzianowski, who has recently been distinguished with the renowned Polish Art Prize (Polityka), is an unusual artist, who is still too little known outside Eastern Europe. One reason for this lies in the resistiveness, with which his artistic work rejects the expectations and the tendencies to appropriate and categorize that are found in an international exhibition practice increasingly oriented to the laws of the art market.
This rejection is expressed not only in his choice of performative intervention as his preferred artistic medium. The transience of this chosen medium also corresponds to the transience of the actions or the situations that he creates in this way. Some of his interventions go completely unnoticed, others have chance observers; they are rarely directed to a – pre-informed- audience that expects them and can put them into an art context. The basic rules of performance do not apply to Bodzianowski’s work. He is not concerned with duration, has no fear of long passages, does not worry about the audience or a spectacular finale. The countless actions take place almost entirely unnoticed by the art business and independent from it, as a kind of expression of a daily artistic necessity. What they all share is the intentional limitation to the simplest means, which also makes it possible to spontaneously react to found situations. In “Good Morning” (Lodz, 1997), for instance, he came across a crane as he was taking a walk at seven in the morning and talked the driver into lifting him in the crane cage to the windows of the fifth floor of a tower block. He knocked on the windows, waking the residents, greeting them and leaving his regards to wish a good morning to all the other residents.
Special examples for his poetic, subversive interventions, as well as his skepticism with regard to conventional exhibition practices are found in contributions to exhibitions to which he has been invited. For his part in an exhibition in a gallery in Lublin in 1997, he persuaded the staff to lock themselves in the gallery during the opening hours of the exhibition, unplug the computers and telephones and stop working. In the meantime, the artist took a long walk through the sunny streets of Lublin. On another occasion (“Nattahnam”, Galeria Manhattan, 1996), the artist’s participation in the exhibition consisted of spending a day in the flat of the family living above the gallery and doing his best to fit into their everyday life.
What Cezary Bodzianowski’s interventions have in common is the way they overcome “natural” contexts of meaning, as they are compellingly set by habit and routine. The assertion of alternative readings of what is seemingly assured harbors a subversive potential in a society, whose self-understanding is substantially based on the unambiguousness and incontrovertibleness of what is generally agreed to be true. Although this subversive potential is overlaid with the great poeticalness of the interventions, it is specifically inscribed into critical awareness through this immanently poetic pictorialness lastingly and ineradicably.
Most of Cezary Bodzianowski’s interventions and actions have been documented by his wife, the photographer Monika Chojnicka, with simple remembrance photos. A selection of these documentations, which have a strong poetic and pictorial aura, will be shown for the first time as part of the exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Cezary Bodzianowski will comment on the documentations in a performance on Friday, 18 February at 7.30 p.m. and on Saturday, 19 February at 6 p.m.
Cezary Bodzianowski, born 1968, lives and works in Lodz, Poland.