opening: 29 May, 7:00 pm
Artists: Jan Berdyszak, Izabella Gustowska, Jarosław Kozłowski, Katarzyna Krakowiak, Mariusz Kruk, Maciej Kurak, Piotr Kurka, Agata Michowska, Antoni Mikołajczyk, Andrzej Pepłoński, Monika Sosnowska.
Curator: Mateusz Bieczyński
Exhibition design and collaboration: Maciej Kurak
The eponymous Installators are linked by two factors. Above all, each of the central figures involved in the exhibition in the Art Stations gallery is closely associated with the University of Arts in Poznań (the former Academy of Fine Arts), either as a graduate or a lecturer. The second common element in this group of artists is their choice of artistic medium — installations. The exhibition’s starting point is the “Poznań School of Installations” (abbreviated to PSI) forged in the 1990s by critics associated with the art magazine Raster. The confrontation of this label with reality and the actual achievements of the Installators became the dominant motif in putting together the exhibition.
In the context of the exhibition, the term “installation” needs to be understood broadly as a spatial work of art composed of a variety of different elements (e.g. sculpture, object, video, photography) whose meaning is closely connected with the context in which they are presented. This capacious definition already suggests that the exhibition will include works typified by a variety of forms, themes and messages, and hence, the medium is a relatively loose one, and not a key to formulating a universal description of the “artistic spirit of Poznań”. So, is it therefore justified to pigeon-hole these works produced by Poznań artists, teasingly labeled by those associated with Raster as “psikusy” (a pun on the Polish word for “pranks”, which begins with PSI), into a single “school”?
The exhibition is divided into three sections, reflecting three generations of Installators. This arrangement makes it possible to observe the development of the medium in the work of Poznań artists in terms of particular generations, but also across those generations.
The works by those artists who have been active the longest – Jan Berdyszak, Izabella Gustowska, Jarosław Kozłowski and Antoni Mikołajczyk – from the point of view of art history could be called “proto-installations”. Each of their works to varying degrees bears traces of tendencies that provided the foundations for the art installation as it developed, such as the ready made or analytical trends, with constructivism at the fore. These works also reflect trends directly preceding the inception of the art installation, such as environmental art and minimalism.
The debuts of Agata Michowska, Piotr Kurka, Mariusz Kruk and Andrzej Pepłoński took place in the 1980s and 1990s. Their works are linked by the poetic use of language, and even a somewhat fairy-tale form. They contain traces of surrealistic thinking and are to a large degree intimate confessions, reflections on personal experiences and refer to the problem of the relative nature of human experience and our knowledge of the objects we see.
The third part of the exhibition is dedicated to the works of the youngest generation of artists presented here: Katarzyna Krakowiak, Monika Sosnowska and Maciej Kurak. The works of these artists are linked by the themes of the imperfection and dysfunction of diverse aspects of our lives, which on the surface appear clearly defined and ordered.
The installations presented in the exhibition are linked by the absence of socio-political narratives and ideological disputes, so we can speak here of a clear change in direction towards the autonomy of art. In their works, the artists formulate a universal message and often refer to truths governing reality and various types of anomalies in our surrounding environment. In the works presented, there also appears a strong conceptual element, expressed both in reflections on the status of the work of art, as well as on the space in which that work functions. These common features do not explain, though, the sense of bringing all the works and their creators together in a single category. Questions about their links and inter-relations remain open and constitute an impulse to further discussions about art and artists in Poznań.
The display takes in works from the Grażyna Kulczyk collection, as well as from other Polish and foreign collections of modern art, as well as featuring recent works prepared by the artists especially for the exhibition.
The dynamism of the Poznań art scene sparked Grażyna Kulczyk’s interest in art. The exhibition is therefore a return to the very first impulses and motivations which drove her to make her first acquisitions, as well as an indication that the works of the Poznań Installators have been and remain an important branch of that collection.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book, titled “Installators”, edited by the curator, Mateusz Bieczyński. The book aims to deepen the discussion around the “Poznań School of Installations” (PSI) and consists of interviews with the artists invited to participate in the exhibition, as well as with the creator of the term PSI, Łukasz Gorczyca, and also with the artist and art critic Marek Wasilewski. In addition to the interviews, there are critical essays by Mateusz Bieczyński and Prof. Grzegorz Dziamski on the PSI and installation art. The book is a result of collaboration between the Art Stations Foundation and Poznań’s University of Arts.