Adam Rzepecki, The old Rzepecki looks at the young Rzepecki – exhibition online tour
Quotes from the exhibition Adam Rzepecki , The old Rzepecki looks at the young Rzepecki, which we will make available after canceling the restrictions related to the epidemic.
The exhibition at Bunkier Sztuki is the first such comprehensive Kraków showcase of Adam Rzepecki’s works. By and large, its character is retrospective, as seen in the two-part structure.
The first part, placed in the ground floor spaces, presents the works (mainly photographs) which were taken for the most part in the 1970s and 1980s. They form several groups that explore such topics as for instance: formal experiments with the photographic medium, performance-related experiences, ironic reflection on the artist’s status, dialoguing with other artists’ achievements, artistic freedom, the flourishing of Pitch-In Culture art group and the division between male and other art.
Adam Rzepecki (b. 1962) practises painting, photography, video art, performance and installations. Between 1973 and 1979 he studied art history at Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Since 1979 he has been a member of the art group Łódź Kaliska and since 1990 of Stacja Pi.Stacja. Between 1978 and 1981 he ran Jaszczurowa Galeria Fotografii in Kraków. He co-created “Kultura Zrzuty” (Pitch-in Culture). His works are in the collections of Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, National Museum in Kraków, Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and Sammlung Verbund in Vienna.
I used to be fascinated with researching the aspect of seeing; I wanted to check to what extent photography is an objective medium. Hence, experiments with differing exposure times, blurriness, distance to the thing being photographed, changes in lens angles. I believe with Self-portrait or Diptychs I did my bit to help the art of that era.
In the 1970s Złocisty Jantar [Golden Amber], a well-respected Polish photo contest, used to be held. I sent there my work consisting of one sentence: “Anyone here been raped and speaks English?” Those were the words of a BBC journalist who was looking for “real” images of a coup in Angola. He wanted a find an English-speaking person, a raped woman would be best, to make an “objective” utterance more dramatic. To show how the image of reality can be manipulated, I took a series of photos entitled Diptychs then, where the trick was to get two pictures from the same spot – one with a standard lens, the other with a wide-angle lens.
“Łódź Kaliska” decided after an open-air session in Świeszyn to prepare a few series of photographs – me in Kraków, Janiak, Kwietniewski and Wielogórski in Łódź – that would make up our joint exhibition. The starting point was simple: you stand in front of the camera and play out – making a photo documentation at the same time – situations or gestures you’ve imagined.
Why Would Aristocrat Need a Small Fiat, from the cycle Performance for photo, 1988, video, 2 min 59 s
In 1981 at the famous open-air session in Osieki, ”Łódź Kaliska” was surrounded by the creme de la creme of the Polish avant-garde. We could see the gaping chasm between us and them. And we expressed that by hanging banners that proclaimed: “The temple of embarrassing and other art” or “Greetings to art officials”. On a building wall I wrote: “Starting today I pretend to be an artist”. And then I did that consistently. That same year in Łódź, at the Falochron [Breakwater] exhibition that accompanied Construction in Process, I wrote down the words “I still consistently pretend to be an artist”, and a year later in Dziekanka Gallery I put in writing: “With effort, yet consistently, I pretend to be an artist”.
Subconsciously, I started to be drawn to the issue of the body, which made critics opine that my subject was feminist art. In fact, although I referred to such figures as Maria Pinińska-Bereś and Ewa Partum, I mostly wanted to mock the very idea of this art, which in my opinion doesn’t exist. Because if it’s art created by women, there’s also maritime art and mining art. And of course male art. Some major problems related to the body and parasexual behaviour stemmed from this provocation.
Intimissimi, 2006, video, 8 min 52 s
Professor Porębski once told me that every artist must somehow take a stand on his or her predecessors. Even in the most ardent and rebellious times the artist seeks allies in the past. Since I’m an art historian, I found it quite easy to start gravitating to and orbiting Duchamp. In 1986 in Stockholm’s Gauss Gallery I did a performance piece How to make pornography into art. As luck would have it, I saw a replica of Duchamp’s urinal in Moderna Museet, too, and pissed into it. That’s how scenarios of talks and meetings with Duchamp began.
This work was made in the period of martial law. At the time, the artistic community split into government backers and independents. The first would make red, the second black art. The reds had galleries and museums wide open and had critics writing about them. The blacks chose to align themselves with the Church, exhibiting by a church door and what not. We put forward a third way as we claimed artistic freedom was more important than political freedom. You can’t be a good artist when there’s no freedom in you. My moustachioed Mother of God brings together two worlds the artist should be far away from – politics and religion. When I came up with it one morning, the vision scared me. Yet a few days later I decided to go through with it.
Jak Kuba Bogu tak Bóg Kubie, in other words the punishing of Marcel Duchamp, 1982, video, 2 min 52 s
The other part of the exhibition, staged on the Gallery’s first floor, is chiefly a personal story stemming from the artist’s plight – the illness he went through and recovered from. These trying experiences have brought him a deeper understanding of life through the lens of the universe and eternity, which has been manifested in his latest artworks.
The title the exhibitions bears – The old Rzepecki looks at the young Rzepecki – is at the same time the title of a sculpture created for this very occasion. In the exhibition, the artist recapitulates his life and work. He adopts an interesting strategy that involves him appearing as two characters. The mature artist meets the young one and shows that by now all that the boy sensed the adult knows.
Exhibition opening: 19 May 2020