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XV INTERAKCJE Festival of the Art of Actionism
and ODA Piotrków Trybunalski
in collaboration with Le Lieu - centre en art actuel, Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, the Faculty of Intermedia and the Polish Cultural Institute New York

Contextual practices between Poland and Quebec

Program dedicated to Jan Swidzinski
curated by Artur Tajber

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - Sunday, April 7, 2013

Le Lieu - centre en art actuel / Universite Laval
Quebec City, Canada,

For the act of drinking a glass of water to become art, it has to be performed in the right place, at the right time, and in the right company. - Jan Swidzinski

INTERAKCJE Festival of the Art of Actionism is the oldest annual international festival of performance art in Poland. Since its establishment fifteen years ago, over 200 artists from around the world will have participated in the programing. The Canadian portion of INTERAKCJE XV Fais où tu es, pratiques contextuelles entre la Pologne et le Québec (Do it where you are - Contextual practices between Poland and Quebec) expands the festival into a bi-continental happening, which will occur in three cities: Krakow and Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland and in Quebec City, Canada.

The festival presents works of Polish and Canadian artists representing different generations, steeped in ideas and inspirations from the rich artistic and theoretical work of one of Poland's legendary artists, theoreticians and originators of Contextual Art, Jan Swidzinski (b.1923). During the 1970s, Swidzinski was the first to formulate the concept of Contextualism - a theory based on the notion that depending on the context, everything can constitute a form of artistic expression. The 2013 program, curated by Artur Tajber, artist and dean of the faculty of Intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, compares how the idea of "contextual art" is worked out in very different cultural environments.

In 1952 Swidzinski completed his degree in painting at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, but his interests were wider than the canvas. He also studied architecture at the Warsaw Polytechnic, as well as linguistics and formal logic and attended ballet classes. His work has always been concerned with communication, semiotics and the dissemination of information. By the end of the 1960s he put down his paint brush, because he didn't see painting as an adequate tool to answer the basic questions of art. Instead he began staging actions. Swidzinski fully turned to performance art by the mid-1970s. In his manifesto Art as Contextual Art (Lund, 1976), he said he was "interested in the art that operates within the sphere of meanings, not the art that creates objects." The manifesto was first presented in 1976 at the important venue - the Swedish Galerie St. Petri in Lund, closely associated with such important performance and conceptual artists such as Nam Jun Paik and Yoko Ono.

The festival is organized in collaboration with Le Lieu - centre en art actuel, in Quebec City, which first published Jan Swidzinski's exposition of his theory, L'Art et son Contexte (Québec, 2005). Swidzinski's relationship with Canada started in 1976 with his participation in the contextual art conference at the Centre for Experimental Art and Communication (CEAC) in Toronto. He also spent a considerable amount of time teaching at the University of Calgary and University of British Columbia in Vancouver, incubating a generation of new performance artists.

The four-day exchange of artistic initiatives between Poland and Quebec will take place in Quebec City beginning on April 4th with a conference in Universite Laval on performance art. Le Lieu, centre en art actuel will host an array of events which include an evening of performances and actions by Janusz Baldyga - co-founder of Pracownia Dziekanka, the famed gallery of the 80s and member of the avant-garde theatre group Akademia Ruchu; Przemyslaw Branas - experimental performance artist who investigates tensions between the boundaries of the body, culture and social structures; Artur Arti Grabowski - a prominent representative of the emerging generation of performance artists in Poland, who tackles societal problems with criticism and humor; sound designer and avant-garde musician Lukasz Szalankiewicz aka. ZENIAL, known to American audiences for his performance at the UNSOUND 2010 in New York; and Artur Tajber, whose work examines the idea of time. A conference on Contextualism in Poland will be accompanied by Barbara Maron's video presentation of Polish Actionism focusing on the young emerging generation of Polish artists as well as two pioneers of the movement - Jan Swidzinski, who is celebrating his 90th birthday in 2013, and Jerzy Beres (1930-2012), one of the forerunners of Polish performance art.

In May of 2013 a group of Canadian artists will present an analog program in Poland at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK) and Osrodek Dzialan Artystycznych (O.D.A.) in Piotrkow Trybunalski for the second part of the XV INTERAKCJE Festival of the Art of Actionism.

Presented by XV Interakcje International Festival of the Art of Actionism, Osrodek Dzialan Artystycznych (ODA) in Piotrkow Trybunalski, in collaboration with Le Lieu - centre en art actuel, Quebec City; Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, the Faculty of Intermedia; Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK); Espace Virtuel, Sequence, Centre d'Art Contemporain; and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Participant bios

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Festival Program

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