I confess to an obsession with Polish Performance Art. It is so intense. It is so – Polish!
I began with a hypothesis that Polish performance art’s development was strongly influenced by Tadeusz Kantor and Jerzy Grotowski and while they are both major contributors to Polish culture, my hypothesis did not really stand up after my meeting and speaking with Polish artists as well as researching and collecting texts, videos and other documentations.
The intensity of Polish performance is more clearly the result of artists’ responses to cultural and political pressures in their explosive history(ies) and experiences of Second World War, Communist Regime of Soviet Union, Solidarność, and Martial Law, etc. Amy Bryzgel says in her 2013 book “Performing The East: Performance Art in Russia, Latvia and Poland Since 1980”, that performance in the East was “… a necessity of existence..” and “While artists in the West strove to create art that could not be bought or sold on the market, in the East the creation of a work of art without an object that could make it traceable back to the owner, had a different appeal.”
Performance artists in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s were censored, jailed, silenced, lost their jobs and had to go underground. These artists created intense art works in form and content. Their legacy is embodied by young performance artists today who create art in response to rapidly changing socio-political environments in Poland, our global village and the digital world.
Verb Frau TV Season 4: Poland, An Introduction is a collection of documentation from my research before and after my trip to Kraków. It contains selections of rare archival footage, ephemera, and photos I acquired with gratitude from Western Front Archives (Vancouver), Cricoteka Museum (Kraków), Éditions Interventions (Québec City), Galeria Labirynt (Lublin), Faculty of Intermedia Akademy of Fine Arts (Kraków), the collections of the Artists, and, of course, the worldwide web that we call the internet…
Please Note: My introduction is longer than each episode of Season 4 which is a conversation with artists Antoni Szoska, Peter Borkowicz, Roman Dziadkiewicz, and Artur Tabjer. The lack of gender diversity was not intentional but only due to lack of time and availabilities. I am very keen to return to Poland to talk to more artists and address this imbalance while perhaps exploring the complex place of the Pope and the Catholic Church in performance in Poland.
Verb Frau TV is a series by Margaret Dragu
Assistant Editor: Aretha Munro
Music Credit: Iron is Laughter by Twin Musicom, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license
Margaret Dragu aka Verb Woman, aka Lady Justice, is a renowned interdisciplinary performance artist living and working in Vancouver. She returns to NSL&G to present material from her ongoing How To Be Old How To Guide series, taking on thoughts and issues to do with aging, culture and society. 3 videos will be screened: Get Devices, Get Rolling and Get Group-y.