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visual art – simple life

01 September 2000 - 30 September 2000

The Edith-Ruß-Haus für Medienkunst invited Maria Anna Potocka, Polish art critic, to organise an exhibition about the actual situation of video and media art in Poland.
The exhibition presents five positions pointing out the reciprocal relations between life and the media realities. Under the term - "life-similar art" - from different points of view can be seen the discourse of the approach of life and art.
Because of structures of new media, function and production of art got fundamentally new definition. The classical relation between an object and a representation has changed.

New Media are not representing the world, they are generating it.

Maria Anna Potocka


Until now, art has maintained a distance from life. It has attempted to remain a separate domain, clearly differentiated from the rest of human activity.
This principle continues in force. Aside from art that proclaims its autonomy, however, art is also emerging that does not seek any clear separation from life, and even attempts at times to slip unnoticed into life. The autonomous work comes right out and says, "I am art". The work immersed in life needs to be "separated out", it requires vigilance of its beholder - or a context that whispers, "Look at me the way you look at art".
Why do some artists renounce the autonomy of art and risk its anonymity?
What advantage is there when the vesitge of uniqueness starts to resemble ordinary, everyday things?
Works of art are arising that are very similar to life. But similarity is not their intention, and they do not aim at imitating life. Similarity is only a method here, a subterfuge, and at times it is an attack.
Similarity is necessary, since the idea is to create or provoke subtle differences. In works similar to life, differences appear thanks to the presence of "minor absurdity". This absurdity is most often a mere touch that casts its delicate absurdity on everything around it and makes it necessary to see a "norma"l phenomenon from the absurd side.
When contaminated by absurdity, the everyday can be an active source of reflection.
Art that resembles life makes use of many forms, materials, and quotations.

"Visual art - simple life" is an exhibition of five Polish artists. It does not present the full possibilities of art that is similar to life, but nevertheless attempts to indicate its multidirectionality and extent.
Works appear here that refer to advertising, politics, security, transcendence, and painting.

Jaroslaw Kozlowski

Gallery of Contemporary Art - New Acquisitions 1997 - 2000 (Video installation)

This work is constructed of more than a dozen "television terminals", presenting compilations of advertisements from around the world. Firework-saturated images, colors, allusions, and prompting occur.
A kaleidoscope of stifled sex, inappropriate enthusiasm, shameless tricks, false optimism, and joy in possession arises, along with a stupid feeling of superiority.

These moving images are usually technically flawless and backed up by perceptive psychological analysis. In any case, they have an accurate feeling for the place where people are vulnerable to manipulation.
An interesting and fascinating part of advertising is its deliberate mendacity, which everyone accepts. This is simply regarded as a tool. The lies in advertising are intriguing in a world where everyone pretends to be telling the truth.
It is a joke that more credibility is lent to advertising than to politics, which makes a great effort at achieving a pretense of credibility.

20 video tapes. Each contains television commercials recorded in a random order from all over the world. They are shown on monitors placed on stands of various heights. The installation is separated from the beholder by a typical museum barrier with a thick velvet rope.

Aleksander Janicki

NON STOP (Semi-interactive Installation)

This looks like closed-circuit TV monitoring of a building. Several monitors make it possible to observe the exhibition hall. The exhibits can be seen, along with the people who go up to them.
From time to time, this peaceful simultaneous image is shattered by an alarm from one of the monitors. It turns out that a theft is underway in the cloakroom, or a guest has passed out, or someone has broken one of the works, or someone else is engaged in a shoving match with the security guards.

At first, the situations seem shockingly credible. Then they are quickly revealed for what they are, and we stop believing in them. That moment undercuts our credulity in regard to the other images.
We begin to classify the images into those that are probably genuine and those that are probably fake. The situation increases our wariness about things that previously seemed self-evident.

A room containing closed-circuit monitoring of the building. Sixteen cameras observe the exhibition. The beholder uses a remote control to choose a view. Some of the images are authentic and live from the exhibition.
Several fictitious scenes were earlier recorded on video. They show emergencies: theft, an attack on a work of art, a fainting episode, the arrival of the police, a power cut. These scenes appear at random, simulating an alarm.

Przemyslaw Jasielski

To see the voice of angels' wings - television version (Video Object)

The arrangement of this work mirrors a typical bourgeois "television terminal". There is a table with a TV set on it and a comfortable armchair in front of it.
The apparent figure of an angel can be seen on screen. The image is fuzzy with the nebulousness of a spiritual apparition. The angel beats its wings as if it wants to convey that its technical imperfection, its media "distance", is so great that the signal is fading.
We can sense the effort at contact, but there is no hope of comprehension.

The sense of mystery deepens when we look into the back of the set - the cabinet is empty. Angels have no physical existence and may not exist at all, yet they seem present in some way.
When it seems that everything can be visualized, it would be hard to resist trying to show a "non-existent" angel. And indeed, we have a visually "plausible" angel in this technically hopeless projection. The angel seems to have been captured. It even seems that we can hear the rustle of its wings.

A specially modified television. In the cabinet is only a picture tube. Movements by the beholder cause an image to appear.
This is a fuzzy image of an angel beating its wings. The television set is on a shabby stand, with an old armchair in front of it.

Wilhem Sasnal

Pictures from computer (Paintings)

This is a series of oil paintings of computer-game screenshots or internet pictures. The pictures are painted in the simplest way possible. They consist exclusively of essential shortcuts.

Behind each effect stands one easy, predictable, effortless movement. The method of depiction is an affront to the existing canons of painting.
There is no struggle with form here. The paintings have been made half-heartedly, with what seems to be an automatic indolence.

The image is therefore reduced to a simple commentary. It is realistic and maintains its neutrality in the face of its own reality. This reality consists of the landscapes and situations that appear on screen.
10 medium-sized pictures. The compositions are painted on the basis of computer games or the internet

Wiktoria Cukt

President of 2001 (Interactive Installation)


This work can be shown in the form of an electoral rally or headquarters. "Politicians are redundant" - is the slogan of artistic politics here. Despite the slogan, the work promotes a politician.
Wiktoria is a virtual politician, visually designed to satisfy the elementary expectations of the electorate. Wiktoria is a good-looking woman. You can feel her decisiveness. Her calm eyes conceal an awareness of what she wants. Her makeup and hairstyle attest to her feeling of self-esteem.

Her rich jewelry asserts the wealth that ensures the impartiality of her administration. She combines everything that is great in men and beautiful in women. She has bright electoral prospects.
The only problem is that she does not exist. The design of this political campaign has all the attributes of authenticity.
There are flyers, posters, banners, election questionnaires, and the candidate appears on television. Nevertheless, no one makes any bones about the fact that she is fictitious. No matter, the voters believe in Wiktoria. She is real enough to play the game of politics.
The electoral headquarters of Wiktoria Cukt, virtual candidate for President of Poland: the projection of her face, campaign literature, posters, billboards, and an internet connection.

A catalogue of the exhibition (German, English, Polish) can be ordered at the Edith-Ruß-Haus. Price: 18 (plus forwarding expenses).


Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Katharinenstraße 23, D-26121 Oldenburg, Tel.: +49(0)441/235-3208, Fax.: +49(0)441/235-2161
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 14:00 -18:00, Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 18:00, Monday closed
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Stadt Oldenburg