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dezembro 11, 2006

International Perspectives On Being Polish, By Benjamin Genocchio

Anna Bella Geiger 006.jpg
Anna Bella Geiger - Recens Orbis Descriptio cum Eurous

International Perspectives On Being Polish

Artigo de Benjamin Genocchio, originalmente publicado na seção Art Review do Jornal The New York Times, no dia 3 de dezembro de 2006, que dedica um parágrafo ao trabalho da artista brasileira Anna Bella Geiger

Trecho de texto traduzido do artigo do New York Times, de domingo 3 de dezembro último, no Art Review sobre a mostra intitulada POZA.

...entre eles está Anna Bella Geiger, uma artista de tal proeminência na cena da arte brasileira contemporânea ... está incluída nesta mostra. Uma grande artista, ela está representada por uma obra dramaticamente maravilhosa onde partes dobradas e detalhadas de cobre e chumbo se relacionam dentro dentro de gavetas de arquivo de ferro preenchidas por camadas de cera de abelha (encáustica). Há uma escrita em hebraico em uma das caixas de madeira separadas ,que denota sua ancestralidade judaico-polonesa.

An expansive exhibition of Polish art has taken over Real Art Ways, a longstanding alternative art space in Hartford founded in 1975. Titled ''Poza,'' the show gathers the work of 31 artists with Polish roots, some of them living in Poland, others in the United States, Canada, France and Brazil. Lectures, a film series, a Web project and several artist performances accompany the show.

Marek Bartelik, a New York-based curator and art historian of Polish descent, has chosen artists of different generations -- the oldest was born in 1933, the youngest in 1980 -- and a dizzying range of artistic media, including painting, photography, sculpture, video, drawing and site-specific installation.

This diversity is intentional. Rather than coming up with a unifying theme for the show and then looking for artists to illustrate the idea, Mr. Bartelik is more interested in exploring the uncertainties and instability of Polish identity in the 21st century. To this end he has sought out Polish artists whose work often deals with themes of journeying and displacement.

Even before the show opened, displacement in its most literal sense became an issue. Photographs of gay couples holding hands, by the Polish artist Karolina Bregula, were rejected for public display in Hartford by a billboard company that had initially agreed to donate billboard rental space to coincide with the ''Poza'' premiere. A company spokesman said in a news release issued by Real Art Ways that it feared the billboards would be vandalized. A display about the doomed billboard project, with scaled-down versions of the censored images, has been incorporated into the exhibition, together with sheets of poster board with markers for the public to express reactions to the incident. The gallery has run through five sheets so far.

The interactive display -- placed between a large show in the main gallery and three smaller shows in the Real Room, a gallery at the other end of the building -- is in keeping with the exhibition's theme, which is less about Polish art than the experience of being Polish in the wider world.

With so many participating artists, this show could very easily have been cluttered. But Mr. Bartelik and the team at Real Art Ways have done an excellent job in grouping the works in such a way that the display feels snug but not too tight, beginning with a dramatic pairing of a heavy wooden sculpture carved with power tools by Ursula von Rydingsvard and some delicate emulsion-based screenprints on silk by Jerzy Kubina.

Many of the artists in the exhibition live in Brooklyn, which has long been home to a large Polish expatriate population. Ms. von Rydingsvard and Mr. Kubina are among them, as is Joanna Malinowska, who in 2005 traveled to the Canadian Arctic to pay homage to the pianist Glenn Gould. She set up a solar-powered boom box playing Gould's recording of Bach's ''Goldberg'' Variations. Unfortunately, the soundtrack on the video display of the project is often overwhelmed by torrents of wind.

It may come as a surprise to learn that there is a small Polish population in Brazil, which accounts for a handful of artists in this show. Among them is Anna Bella Geiger, who is such a stalwart of the Brazilian contemporary art scene that it seems strange to see her included here. A great artist, she is represented by a dramatically marvelous assemblage of detailed, plaited pieces of copper and lead in old iron archive boxes filled with layers of beeswax. There is Hebrew writing on the box representative of her Jewish-Polish ancestry.

From the wilder side of Poland's expatriate art community come some videos, including Brooklyn-based Pawel Wojtasik's ''Aquarium'' (2006), an animal-rights and environmental rant that was recently screened at the Westport Arts Center. It contains stunning footage of pristine glacial areas in Alaska and a few blissful scenes shot at aquariums nationwide, including the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration.

Other artists' videos take us on an excursion through Poland and ideas of Polish-ness; these include conceptual stunts by the Azorro Group, a Polish art collective formed in 2001, and Jacek Malinowski's exploration of modern urban rituals, like going to the gym. There is also Krzysztof Wodiczko's painfully tedious video eliciting some vague concern about the psychological problems of abused women. Mr. Wodiczko's video project never springs to life, particularly when compared with other works, so many of which exude an intense vitality and exciting topicality.

''Poza'' is at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street, Hartford, through Jan. 29. Information: (860) 232-1006 or www.realartways.org.

Posted by João Domingues at 2:48 PM