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Paris: Grzegorz Stefański, Wiktoria Wojciechowska

March 9, 2019

The Rencontres Internationales Paris

RENCONTRES INTERNATIONALES PARIS/BERLIN

Grzegorz Stefanski: “Restraint” 

Wiktoria Wojciechowska: “Sparks”


Grzegorz Stefanski “Restraint”

I created this work for Wola Museum in Warsaw. I was inspired by anonymous documentary photograph probably from 50` that puzzled me as very contemporary and unbelievably well staged as for a snapshot. I was thinking a lot about how language of “reality” changes over time and how it can be easily influenced reinterpreted. And then I relied that reenactments are very bodily reinterpretation of images, that they make individual bodies to be mediums of transformation meanings; and I realised that their growing popularity and superficial innocence frightens me. I decided to reenact this photograph I came across and asked members of historical re-enactment groups to do it. Later I also wrote accompanying essay in which I have put into words my interest in language of documentary in contemporary art

Grzegorz Stefanski, born in 1983 in Czluchow (PL), lives and works in Warsaw and London where he is currently an artist in residence at Sarabande Foundation. Before attending art school, he earned master’s degree in philosophy and made his artistic debut in with solo exhibition during Cracow Photomonth Festival in 2010. He concluded his artistic education at The Slade School of Fine Art in London and Miroslaw Balka’s Studio of Spatial Activities in Warsaw. In 2017 he won the Ivan Juritz Prize in London and the Grand Prix at the Biennale of Young Art in Poland. He has exhibited his works at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (2018), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2018), Ujazdowski Castle Centre of Contemporary Art (2018), Manifesta 11 in Zurich (2016), Pastificio Cerere Foundation in Rome (2014) and the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in New York (2010). He has collaborated, among others, with Nowy Teatr in Warsaw (2016), National Museum in Warsaw (2017), and Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Cracow (2018).

Wiktoria Wojciechowska “Sparks”

Sparks is a multidimensional portrait of a forgotten but still raging contemporary European conflict: the war in Ukraine. Ukrainians are fighting each other, with government forces on one side and pro-Russian separatists on the other. Wiktoria Wojciechowska went in search of combatants and victims to recount its impact on the lives of ordinary people. The title, Sparks, refers to incandescent shrapnel that mercilessly pierces the walls of houses. Civilians living near the front call it ??????? or iskry, in Ukrainian. Looking up at a hail of burning fragments, they know it is already too late to seek shelter. The “sparks” signal death and fear. Combining photographs, collage, film, symbolic images of armed conflict with pictures and words collected from combatants, Sparks offers several perceptions of war.

Wiktoria Wojciechowska is a multimedia artist, working with photography, video, collage, installation and books. Born in 1991 in Lublin, Poland and graduated with honors from Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Lives and works in Lublin and Paris. Wiktoria Wojciechowska was the 2015 winner of the Oskar Barnack Leica Newcomer Award for Short Flashes, portraits of drenched cyclists captured on the streets of Chinese’s metropolis. Between 2014 and 2016, she accomplished Sparks, a portrait of the contemporary war in Ukraine, based on the stories of people living in a war-torn country. This series received several awards, such as Les Rencontres d’Arles 2108 New Discovery award’s public prize, Madame Figaro prize and the Prix pour la Photographie, Fondation des Treilles. “Sparks” has been featured in numerous exhibitions such as Les Rencontres d’Arles 2018 in France; Jimei X Arles festival in Xiamen, China; Krakow Photomonth in Poland, The Museum of Photography in Riga, Latvia, Exhibition Bureau in Warsaw, Poland. Wiktoria Wojciechowska was also nominated for many prestigious grants such as Joop Swart Masterclass 2016, Unseen Young Talents, Lucie Foundation Emerging Artists, Visura Grant, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize (for the book Short Flashes) and Foam Paul Huf Award. She is a recipient of scholarships and grants of Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and other institutions.

Wiktoria Wojciechowska produces a multi-dimensional portrait of a contemporary armed conflict, the armed conflict in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists. The title, Sparks, refers to smouldering shrapnel that penetrates the walls of the houses. Once seen it is already too late, the shrapnel represents fear and death. Mike Hoolboom uses extracts from old films with horses; the film is made out of gelatin that comes from horses. Horses are waiting to be slaughtered; then the film can be made. Grzegorz Stefanski re-enacts postures from documentary photographs in the 1950s. He asks the participants of the historical re-enactments to embody these gestures, therefore questioning the language of reality through time. Sergii Sabakar revamps and animates media images, questioning our vision. It becomes impossible to distinguish between gestures of attack and those of defence. Lina Selander and Oscar Mangione film artefacts from a Maoist life, intersected with machines to crush books shredding the writings of the former German Democratic Republic and schoolbooks. In India Eshwarya Grover documents the discussion between a couple returning to their old house, 16 years after being forced to abandon it. Viet Hoai Son Cao goes through Hai Hau, a small Vietnamese village, where a community is building a spaceship to go to the moon.

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