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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » December 21, 2012
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Politics in Culture
December 21, 2012   
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Videos and short films by Artur ¯mijewski, a talented Polish multimedia artist, are on display at a new retrospective exhibition at the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art.

In his films, ¯mijewski explores problems such as giving up quality in art for the sake of egalitarian culture, political issues in culture, and art used in one-off projects with no intention of appealing to future generations.

The exhibition consists of around 50 films from several series ¯mijewski made from 2007 to 2012. They form a narrative, supplemented by drawings and paintings by people who took part in ¯mijewski’s projects. The exhibition also comes with an archive of press cuttings ¯mijewski collected about the events he filmed.

Among the series of films shown at the Center for Contemporary Art is Democracies (2007-2012). The 30-odd short documentaries were recorded during demonstrations which ¯mijewski watched in Europe, including in Poland, Israel and the West Bank. Meanwhile, Selected Works are 18 films from 2007-2012 in which the artist recorded the daily work and the leisure-time activities of people of various professions: a cleaning lady, an excavator operator, a cashier, a laundry assistant, a construction worker, a mechanic, a female streetcar driver and so on.

My Neighbours (2009) is a film ¯mijewski made during a visit to Israel, invited by the Digital Art Lab in Holon. He came to Israel in time to witness the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Interviewing residents of Holon and Tel Aviv, the artist asked them what they thought about the war.

In Blindly (2010), ¯mijewski documented the seemingly impossible—blind people painting pictures. The documentary shows blind people in their attempts to describe what the world looks like by painting portraits, landscapes and images of their own homes and physical appearance.

The Mass (2011) is a video recording of a faithful reenactment of a Catholic Mass which was staged at the Dramatyczny Theater in Warsaw. Complete with an altar, liturgical candles, a crucifix and a tabernacle, the service featured organ music and chants. The roles of the priest and a seminarian were played by actors from the Dramatyczny Theater.

¯mijewski, born in 1966, lives and works in Warsaw. He is a leading exponent of the critical art movement. In 2005, he represented Poland at the Polish pavilion during the 51st Venice Biennale. Last year, he was the curator of the seventh Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art.

Until Feb. 24
Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art
2 Jazdów St., tel. +48 22 628-12-71 to 73; www.csw.art.pl
Open Tue.-Sun. noon-7 p.m., Fri. noon-9 p.m.
Tickets zl.12 (full price) and 6 (discount),
free admission on Thursdays
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