Open Form - Game on an Actress' Fac

Open Form - Game on an Actress' Fac, 1971

02:29 min

Video

With the video Open Form, Kulik experienced a release from traditional art objects. "Game on an Actress’ Face is a perfect example of the processual, collective Visual Game in which each successive take shows a ‘move’ made by another artist. Every move required the next participant to relate to existing facts (their predecessor’s move), develop their own ‘statement’, and remember that their move creates a context for the next player’s move. The artists communicated (played) using both visual forms as well as various kinds of actions (Activities). The game’s experience involved the awareness that the other players’ ‘statements’ determine one’s actions, and that one’s own move influences the subsequent ones, for instance, by limiting or expanding their possible choices. That entailed learning the responsibility related to acting in the public sphere modeled after the inter-subjective communication sphere existing between the artists participating in the game. ‘The players’ who gathered around the actress stayed out of shot. The scene featured Ewa Lemańska, who gained huge popularity in the early 1970s as Maryna, the fiancée of the main character of the TV series Janosik.

Variants of Red / The Path of Edward Gierek

Variants of Red / The Path of Edward Gierek, 1971

Two-screen slide projection, HD, 2 x 136 slides

KwieKulik presented the projections Variants of Red and The Path of Edward Gierek numerous times and in various contexts and configurations. Variants of Red consisted of dozens of slides from the documentation of new art as collected by KwieKulik, including their own Activities and interactions with other artists. Slides, all including an element of red (e.g., material, inscription, object, etc.), which appeared in various contexts, were shown on one screen. In turn, The Path of Edward Gierek included reproductions of the front pages of Polish newspapers from 1971, just after the bloody events of December 1970, which resulted in political changes in Poland. Edward Gierek was chosen as first secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR). The newspapers were packed with photographs of the new first secretary meeting the representatives of various milieus, often delegations of workers all over Poland.
There were different projections of this presentation. For example, during the performance of Proagit 1, the projections were shown successively, and during Proagit 2, they were shown simultaneously. In Brussels in 1981, the slides with Gierek were shown on a red screen and the slides containing a red color were shown on a white screen.
The number of slides also varied with more being added over the course of time. In 1971, during Proagit 1 there were two sets of thirty-six slides, and six months later, by the time of Proagit 2, the number had reached sixty. In later presentations the total reached 240, with 120 slides being projected onto each of the two screens.
In 2005, a digital version of the projection was made, which combined all of the previous versions and consisted of two sets of 136 slides. All the slides with red were taken between the years 1970 and 1972.

Ameryka

Ameryka, 1972

115 x 168 cm

Archival Inkjet Print (2016), 17 photos

Ameryka was a quarterly magazine that, according to the masthead, presented ‘the leading ideas and opinions about social, political, economic, and cultural issues’. The magazine was published in Polish by the US Information Agency in Washington and distributed in Poland by the American Embassy. Ameryka could probably be read in International Press and Book Clubs (MPiK), but neither Kulik nor Kwiek can remember. Browsing through the magazine, KwieKulik were struck by the images of happy people and the effectiveness of problem solving as shown. Ameryka therefore represented an ideal of reality. The artists wanted to create their own image in that semblance of the American dream. Firstly, in December 1972, during a walk with Dobromierz, they posed for photographs showing them as happy, smiling parents. Here the artists mocked the aesthetics of Ameryka, but at the same time they were creating an image typical of all propaganda in that the goal was to idealize its ‘own’ reality, something that also mythologized it and evoked envy among the citizens of other political systems, then known as the ‘enemy’. Over the next couple of years, KwieKulik were to take several more photo-graphs belonging to the series Ameryka. One was taken in the ‘Galeria’, or rather in Repassage (March 1973), when, after the election was lost by KwieKulik, the new management presented documentation of the activities of Sigma and the ‘Galeria’ from the period between 1971–72. Contesting such practice of appropriating the work of other artists, KwieKulik staged the action We Shit on It. As if by accident, the action was linked with the series Ameryka. The artists were to continue this series almost until the end of their collaboration (one of the photos is from 1985). The project has never been terminated.

The Monument Without a Passport

The Monument Without a Passport, 1978

90 x 65 cm

Archival Inkjet Print (2016)

In 1978, KwieKulik were invited to the All-Polish Biennale of Young Art in Sopot and at the same time also to Arnhem for ‘Behavior Workshop’ festival. Being convinced they would go to Arnhem, they wrote on the invitation from the Biennale: ‘trash can’, but, when denied their passports (after the ‘eagle affair’), they decided to go to Sopot.
At the Sopot Biennale the performance The Monument without a Passport in the Salons of Visual Arts was carried out.
The performance belonged to the Activities for the Head series. ‘The Head’ (in this case Kulik’s head) was sticking through a tabletop onto which slides were projected therefore transforming into a screen. At a certain juncture Kwiek put Kulik’s legs in plaster, thereby forming a small plinth. Thus her head and legs were now immobilized — in an act of changing ‘state’; from the penetration of the body with images to its transformation into a sculptural figure, which then remained for the duration of the performance. Kulik stretched her hand up, showing a file entitled ‘IDEAS FOR ARNHEM’; Kwiek cut a string tied around a roll of paper hanging on the wall, the roll unfolded, revealing the inscription ‘THE MONUMENT WITHOUT A PASSPORT IN THE SALONS OF VISUAL ARTS’. Finally Kwiek sat down on a ‘fixed’ chair next to Kulik, the plinth in which the legs of the chair were embedded being adjacent to the one around Kulik’s feet. This monument like situation was then held in this static pose for a dozen or so minutes.

The Monument Without a Passport (Police)

The Monument Without a Passport (Police), 1978

04:31 min

Slide show HD

In 1978, KwieKulik were invited to the All-Polish Biennale of Young Art in Sopot and at the same time also to Arnhem for ‘Behavior Workshop’ festival. Being convinced they would go to Arnhem, they wrote on the invitation from the Biennale: ‘trash can’, but, when denied their passports (after the ‘eagle affair’), they decided to go to Sopot.
At the Sopot Biennale the performance The Monument without a Passport in the Salons of Visual Arts was carried out.
The performance belonged to the Activities for the Head series. ‘The Head’ (in this case Kulik’s head) was sticking through a tabletop onto which slides were projected therefore transforming into a screen. At a certain juncture Kwiek put Kulik’s legs in plaster, thereby forming a small plinth. Thus her head and legs were now immobilized — in an act of changing ‘state’; from the penetration of the body with images to its transformation into a sculptural figure, which then remained for the duration of the performance. Kulik stretched her hand up, showing a file entitled ‘IDEAS FOR ARNHEM’; Kwiek cut a string tied around a roll of paper hanging on the wall, the roll unfolded, revealing the inscription ‘THE MONUMENT WITHOUT A PASSPORT IN THE SALONS OF VISUAL ARTS’. Finally Kwiek sat down on a ‘fixed’ chair next to Kulik, the plinth in which the legs of the chair were embedded being adjacent to the one around Kulik’s feet. This monument like situation was then held in this static pose for a dozen or so minutes.

Acitivies with Dobromierz

Acitivies with Dobromierz, 1972-74

300 x 270 cm

Silver Gelatine Print (2007), 48 photos 30 x 36 cm each, paper frame

Shortly after their son Maksymilian Dobromierz was born, KwieKulik started to ‘use their own child in their art’. Activities with Dobromierz is a piece in which the artists took nearly 900 photographs (color slides and black-and-white negatives) in which their son appears alongside various household objects in the apartment and during walks.
In this work, the artists tried to practically apply the knowledge from scientific seminars they were attending at the time. They believed that almost the same operations that mathematicians, logicians, sculptors (that is, themselves) do, could also be done by means of various forms of visual aids and with the help of registered images (slides).
Activities with Dobromierz attempted to relate mathematics and logic operations (which use the intangible characters, e.g. x, y, z), to similar artistic operations but using material forms (objects, textures, colors), including the already existing particular condition of life. In addition, they combined Activities with Dobromierz with the linguistic typology of spatial prepositions (derived from the theory of A. Weinsberg), which was later developed in the work with The Unknown X. According to KwieKulik, Activities with Dobromierz proved that the limited number of spatial relationships between objects (ten basic relations) can produce an infinite number of Aesthetic Time-Effects.
In 2008, Kulik prepared a three channel digital projection of Activities with Dobromierz.

Acitivies with Dobromierz

Acitivies with Dobromierz, 1972-74

Three-screen slide installation, HD, digitalized 2008

Shortly after their son Maksymilian Dobromierz was born, KwieKulik started to ‘use their own child in their art’. Activities with Dobromierz is a piece in which the artists took nearly 900 photographs (color slides and black-and-white negatives) in which their son appears alongside various household objects in the apartment and during walks.
In this work, the artists tried to practically apply the knowledge from scientific seminars they were attending at the time. They believed that almost the same operations that mathematicians, logicians, sculptors (that is, themselves) do, could also be done by means of various forms of visual aids and with the help of registered images (slides).
Activities with Dobromierz attempted to relate mathematics and logic operations (which use the intangible characters, e.g. x, y, z), to similar artistic operations but using material forms (objects, textures, colors), including the already existing particular condition of life. In addition, they combined Activities with Dobromierz with the linguistic typology of spatial prepositions (derived from the theory of A. Weinsberg), which was later developed in the work with The Unknown X. According to KwieKulik, Activities with Dobromierz proved that the limited number of spatial relationships between objects (ten basic relations) can produce an infinite number of Aesthetic Time-Effects.
In 2008, Kulik prepared a three channel digital projection of Activities with Dobromierz.
In this work, the artists tried to practically apply the knowledge from scientific seminars they were attending at the time. They believed that almost the same operations that mathematicians, logicians, sculptors (that is, themselves) do, could also be done by means of various forms of visual aids and with the help of registered images (slides).
Activities with Dobromierz attempted to relate mathematics and logic operations (which use the intangible characters, e.g. x, y, z), to similar artistic operations but using material forms (objects, textures, colors), including the already existing particular condition of life. In addition, they combined Activities with Dobromierz with the linguistic typology of spatial prepositions (derived from the theory of A. Weinsberg), which was later developed in the work with The Unknown X [see event 073]. According to KwieKulik, Activities with Dobromierz proved that the limited number of spatial relationships between objects (ten basic relations) can produce an infinite number of Aesthetic Time-Effects.
In 2008, Kulik prepared a three channel digital projection of Activities with Dobromierz.

A Bird of Plaster for Bronze - Malmö

A Bird of Plaster for Bronze - Malmö, 1974

90 x 70 cm

With Activities with the AK Kinga Plaque, KwieKulik developed a relational interaction on a hackwork commissioned piece for the first time. While carving in the sandstone slab the inscription in honor of the murdered National Army Soldiers, they documented the material-spatial Activities they were performing on the plaque using different objects such as mandarins, onions, plaster heads made by their artist-friend Wojciechowski, letters cut out of black paper, a red scarf, their piece Unknown X, and even their son Dobromierz. The stone plaque (together with the inscription) therefore started to shift in meaning. The commemorative plate (and inscription) turned into a prop, an ‘element’ embedded into a different chain of references. This Activity was accompanied by a unique catalogue, handmade by KwieKulik, entitled ‘Carving and Activity, Earning and Creating, Have Your Cake and Eat it Too’.
A year later, one of the pieces of this action was published in the Malmö catalogue. Visible in this photograph, a huge plaster eagle can be seen in the background, hence the term for subsequent ‘eagle affair’ event.
The plaque was mounted on the wall of the building at 103 Solec Street and officially unveiled on 6 April 1974.

Activities with AK Kinga Plate

Activities with AK Kinga Plate, 1974

Digital slide projection, HD

With Activities with the AK Kinga Plaque, KwieKulik developed a relational interaction on a hackwork commissioned piece for the first time. While carving in the sandstone slab the inscription in honor of the murdered National Army Soldiers, they documented the material-spatial Activities they were performing on the plaque using different objects such as mandarins, onions, plaster heads made by their artist-friend Wojciechowski, letters cut out of black paper, a red scarf, their piece Unknown X, and even their son Dobromierz. The stone plaque (together with the inscription) therefore started to shift in meaning. The commemorative plate (and inscription) turned into a prop, an ‘element’ embedded into a different chain of references. This Activity was accompanied by a unique catalogue, handmade by KwieKulik, entitled ‘Carving and Activity, Earning and Creating, Have Your Cake and Eat it Too’.
A year later, one of the pieces of this action was published in the Malmö catalogue. Visible in this photograph, a huge plaster eagle can be seen in the background, hence the term for subsequent ‘eagle affair’ event.
The plaque was mounted on the wall of the building at 103 Solec Street and officially unveiled on 6 April 1974.

Together We Will Do More

Together We Will Do More, 1977

83 x 57 cm

Collage, Offset print and Photocopies

KwieKulik were invited to the exhibition ‘Projects, Performances — Czechoslovakia, Poland’ held at the Hallwalls Gallery in Buffalo, New York. They made the composition Together We Will Do More. For this purpose, they used a Polish Socialist Youth Union (ZSMP) propaganda poster (from which they took the title). Onto this poster they stuck a few pages of photo-copied photographs from the work, Activities with Dobromierz. These photocopies came from the leaflet they made at Galeria El in 1973. They cut the manipulated poster, 83 x 57 cm, into eight equal A4 pieces, so that they could send their work to the US in an envelope by regular mail. The unnumbered parts of the poster created a kind of puzzle which could be randomly arranged to obtain more or less a grotesque design. Also included were ‘barely visible’ black-and-white photographs of Dobromierz that had been reproduced on old yellowed paper by means of a technique known as thermocopying. This, contrasting with clichéd optimism beaming from the color poster, formed the piece.
Others that took part in the exhibition included Petr Štembera, Jan Mlčoch, and Karel Miler.

Polish Duo 1

Polish Duo 1, 1984

90 x 65 cm

Archival Inkjet Print (2016)

Polish Duo 1 was the first of a series of performances between 1984 and 1986 at the Dziekanka. Each year the artists staged a series of events taking place in short intervals.
The performance was comprised of four parts:
In part one, the artists danced with red-and-white flags attached to their heads, whilst a small fan in front of the flags made them flap as if blown by the wind. The artists moved like figure skaters. In the next sequence, the artists stood immobile. Kulik made her flag move thanks to the fan held in her hand; Kwiek, who did not have a fan, watched as his flag hung listlessly. The situation forced him to make his flag move in a ‘natural’ way — by quickly running around Kulik.
In the second part, the flags became ‘four-armed propeller-crosses’. Both artists rolled on a long table and when they stood up, they spun round on their own axis as if they wanted to fly. In the third display, the artists sat opposite each other at a table with Polish flags on long batons attached to their heads. They bent forward slightly and began eating a meal at the table. The flags (like swords) crossed in the air each time they cut their meat into portions and their knives and forks crossed on the plates. When they were chewing and swallowing, everything went back to normal, both flags standing upright.
In the fourth part, Kwiek and Kulik stood facing each other, joined by a white-and-red flag. One end of the flag was fastened to a wooden slat on Kwiek’s head, the other, to a slat on Kulik’s head. As the artists bent their heads backwards slowly two white-and-gray flags slipped from underneath the white-and-red flag. At the conclusion of this backwards motion the ‘white-and-red cocoon’ fell down on to the floor. The artists then left the room, each with a white-and-gray flag.

Hammer-Sickle; Art in Panties

Hammer-Sickle; Art in Panties, 1985

150 x 100 cm

Archival Inkjet Print

The second from the series of three performances by KwieKulik at the Dziekanka, 1985. The title taken from the invitation: Hammer, Hand, Ice; Sickle, Hook, Shadow and Art in Panties.
Upon entering the gallery, the guests came across the following scene: Kwiek and Kulik were sitting on bricks (the artists brought them from their home in Łomianki that they had been renovating for several years by now). They were seated against the backdrop of a picture drawn in school crayons on brown wrapping paper. The picture depicted clouds and the sun in
a simplified, childish way, but, instead of the sun, a light bulb was glowing there. Before them each artist was holding out a piece of ice shaped like the head of a hammer. The forearm and the ice made up the full image of the hammer. From a block of ice, a partly-embedded iron hook was protruding. The light from the bulb was casting the shadow of the hook onto the ice surface, the hook and its shadow forming the shape of a sickle. The spectators could see how from the heat from the bulb and the artist’s hands the ice was melting, while the ice hammer heads were ‘burning’ cold the hands that were hold-ing them. The artists had to move the ice from hand to hand constantly.
On both sides, pictures were hanging horizontally in a row: Kulik’s panties painted in gloomy dark colors were pulled up over painting supports made of coarse gray canvass, resembling birds flying in a V-formation.

Banana and Pome-grenade

Banana and Pome-grenade, 1986

57 x 40 cm

Archival Inkjet Print, 10 photos

Banana and Pome-grenade was performed at Dziekanka as part of a three-year program organized by KwieKulik. The title in Polish is Banan i Granat, with ‘granat’ meaning both ‘hand grenade’ and ‘pomegranate’; therefore in English a new phrase was created ‘pome-grenade’.
Kwiek and Kulik were sitting immobile wearing buckets on their heads. Their son, Maksymilian Dobromierz, opened and closed a white curtain decorated with silver stars and crescents. After each opening of the curtain, another arrangement of four objects was presented to the audience (placed on the buckets and in the artists’ hands): a stone in a glass filled with water, an axe, pigs’ snouts, a broken milk bottle, a sculpture of a copulating couple, passports, etc. In total there were twelve consecutive scenes. Some of these referred to personal experiences, others related to more abstract concepts, all created an endless chain of poetic associations. KwieKulik used national emblems and symbols of Catholicism made of poor materials, abstract forms, and quotidian objects. The performance was paradigmatic for KwieKulik’s shift in methodology in the 1980s, transforming the conceptual analysis of society and the politics of the image into an enigmatic political theatre of form and object.
The artists described the performance as reistic theatre. They used the term ‘reism’ or ‘concretism’ after Tadeusz Kotarbiński, who formulated a philosophical opinion that only things exist, while events, properties, relationships, and other abstract entities cannot exist independently.
After the performance KwieKulik created a slide projection, Activities with Mercury, in 1975.

Dirty (event 202)

Dirty (event 202), 1988

50 x 50 cm

Photograph

Przemysław Kwiek and Zofia Kulik at the opening of the exhibition, Galeria Grodzka, Lublin 1988

Supermarket

Supermarket, 1981

04:58 min

Video

Supermarket is a video performance KwieKulik realized in Stuttgart when they were invited to the group exhibition, ‘New Art from Poland’, at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.
During the action, they strolled through a supermarket (full of ‘foreign’ goods) with a supermarket cart, occasionally putting products into their cart, whilst discussing the totally absurd and completely disproportionate exchange rate between Polish currency and the Deutsche Mark; afterwards, they put the goods back onto the shelves, eventually leaving the shop with their hands empty. This work came into being as a result of the contrast experienced by the artists between the shortage of goods in Poland and their excess in the West.

Game on Morel's Hill

Game on Morel's Hill, 1971

Group action, slideshow, 35 photos

In December 1971, during an extended discussion between the students of sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, professor Oskar Hansen, and other contributors at the Close-Ups of the Young Creative Workshop in Elblag, a suggestion was put forward by Przemysław Kwiek, to move the discussion from the smoke-filled room into the open air, and replace verbal discussion by action collaboration with objects. Oskar Hansen then developed this idea, and introduced strict rules to the planned action (game). The participants divided into two groups: Whites and Blacks choose a hill where Henryk Morel’s sculpture Destruction was located. When one group performed a “movement”, the second group looked at this and had to respond after a time (the next movement was induced by the previous group’s movement). Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek found wooden sticks, a long white canvas and red fabric in the basement of the Culture House, which was then used in this interactive art game. Within three hours, fourteen movements had been constructed. This slideshow documents one of the first times this nonverbal group action was recorded.