Exhibition opening: September 20, 2018, 7 – 9 pm
Performance: September 20, 2018, 7:30 pm
(main stage of Teatr Studio)
Decisions offers a survey of the work of Stuart Brisley – the British godfather of performance art, one of its most radical representatives worldwide.
It is the first substantial presentation of his work in Poland, with a focus on the 1970s and 1980s, and his relations with the Polish art scene. The show references the six-day daring action Moments of Decision / Indecision, which Brisley performed at Galeria Studio in 1975, on the invitation of Józef Szajna, the Director of Teatr Studio. The two artists had met earlier. Brisley read a review from Szajna’s performance Replika at the Edinburgh Festival in 1972 in the Observer. While on a scholarship in Berlin, he came to Warsaw, found Szajna through the Union of Polish Artists and showed him documentation of his work. This resulted in further cooperation with Galeria Studio, at that time led by Andrzej Ekwiński. Moments of Decision / Indecision was officially announced as a Presentation of Artistic Activity. It was a risky endeavor for both the artist and the organizers. The operation lasted six days and was open to the public. Brisley climbed the wall, stood on his head, and rolled in paint, painting with his entire body – leaving traces of his gestures in the gallery space. These gestures were powerful symbols of the impossible: climbing the Berlin Wall, or crossing the Iron Curtain. He used black and white colors to paint his body, flooding his face and eyes to the point of rendering himself blind. For him, “black and white” represented an abstracted reality, in which his body, subjected to extremes, became a political body. The action was documented by his long-term collaborator Leslie Haslam in dozens of photographs, the most important editions of which are in the collections of Tate in London and Galeria Studio in Warsaw. The action provoked an artistic and political scandal – which resulted in the correspondence of Norman Reddaway, the British Ambassador to Poland at the time, and British officials who protested against it, demanding the artist’s expulsion from Poland.
Decisions also includes other multi-day actions carried out by the artist in the 1970s, in which he engaged in radical experiments and subjected himself to extremes: 10 Days, And for Today… Nothing, Bathworks, or Arbeit Macht Frei, as well as objects, archives, videos, and the combative pioneering documentary film Being and Doing of 1984. The film, produced by Brisley with Ken McMullen, presents a subjective history of performance art of the 1970s and 1980s, with the participation of, among others, Iain Robertson, Zbigniew Warpechowski, Jerzy Bereś, Tibor Hajas, Natalia LL, and Ewa Partum.
On the day of the opening, Brisley will perform on the main stage of Teatr Studio, directly addressing the context of the exhibition: the forty years of history that have elapsed his last stay at Studio.
Curated by Barbara Piwowarska
Exhibition runs through: September 21 – December 9, 2018
Tuesday – Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm
Galeria Studio, Palace of Culture and Science, Plac Defilad, Warsaw