In 1996 the Polish artist Cezary Bodzianowski paid a visit to a family living in an apartment block in the center of his home town of Lodz. The building hosts the Galeria Manhattan, its name reflecting the random accumulation of such blocks in that city. The artist walked into the family's apartment and stayed for 16 hours, trying to blend in with the family's life. A photo of this intervention, titled Nattahnam, shows the artist in the apartment's interior looking out of the window in a grey suit and melancholic posture.
This scenario is characteristic of the subtle interventions Cezary Bodzianowski would invent, meeting situations in public and private spaces - in the past mainly of post-communist Poland - which he comments upon and alters often just by his cheerful presence. But Bodzianowski is not just a medium or a 'Zelig' character, getting completely consumed by the circumstances surrounding him. If he submits himself to a situation, humble and modest, it is mostly bound to fail in a constructive and grotesque way, as in Black Man Listening to Black Music on a Black Background, apartment in Lodz, 1996, "The story of my Negritude: I painted my body black and listened to black music while lying on a black background. I thought that would be enough, but I was only painted over" (CB).
Some early objects the artist created, like Stalemate, object (1993), a miniature chessboard attached to the handle of an umbrella, or the Holy Footstool, object (1992), have the particular poetic charm of the Surrealist or Dadaist time and bring to mind George Brecht's object-events. There is the same mysterious conceptual connection between object and performance in Bodzianowski's works. And these materializations indeed never appear independently of the artist's interventions into real-life situations. They often only exist as an image, not even as a photograph that could circulate as a commercial item.
The noble timelessness of his artistic persona maintains some distance and resistance to every situation he gets involved in. Bodzianowski is a passer-by, a flaneur in the very anachronistic, uncorrupted sense. He converts and adds to a given situation certain activities and objects which become metaphorical in a whimsical way and intensify the meanings and atmospheres of social, historic, or political settings.
Arriving in New York City for the first time in his life, Cezary Bodzianowski reacts to this new urban circumstance in the same way. The project Charlestone - evoking the ungraspable past of the city - formulates in a unique and poetic way the artist's perception of the city as an entity that is only accessible to a very relative extent. The sensation of a slight, curious discomfort is expressed in the gallery space in this enigmatic intervention vaguely reminiscent of an early Polanski scenario of obscure alienation.
Anke Kempkes, Broadway 1602
Born in 1968, Cezary Bodzianowski works and lives in Lodz, Poland. Recent shows include "Hidden In a Daylight", Cieszyn, Poland, curated by Foksal Gallery Foundation (2003), Film program at Centre Pompidou, Paris, (2004), and a solo show "Ein und Aus", Koelnischer Kunstverein, Germany (2005).
Co-presented with the Polish Cultural Institute
The world can be read as fiction, and fiction is capable of exposing the workings of the world. [...] The artist Cezary Bodzianowski moves gleefully through the world as if it were a story.
He sets up events,usually actions of a semi-private kind, showing up onstreets, in stores or parks to carry out his schemes. He poses in selected places, appropriates existing situations, seeks suitable backdrops. Selecting slices of life, he alters the balance and changes the rhythm of events by slightly modifying the surroundings, through unexpected interventions, or with his mere presence. Fragments of reality become cues for narratives of his own. Yet this is not some the whole world is a stage trip, nor exercise in interdisciplinarity which art has accustomed us to. It is a conscious embracing of the artificial, or rather artifice: a conceptualization of the world.
His actions catch viewers off their guard. [...] Bodzianowski appears unannounced. His modus operandi is achieving a freeze-frame effect, bringing events to a halt, slowing down or suspending the action: the end-product is after all most often available only as photographic documentation. He prefers unofficial times and places: hotel rooms and the hours before the opening, the backstage of theatres, gallery offices, foyers at festival venues where he appears outside of official occasions, stretching the time and space of ritual to their limits.
- Joanna Mytkowska, Games of Rhetoric, in: Cezary Bodzianowski, Foksal Gallery Foundation and Revolver, Warszawa, 2003
Cezary Bodzianowski, Chelsea Hotel,
New York City, 2006
Cezary Bodzianowski, 8:1, Lodz, 2000
Cezary Bodzianowski, Rainbow, bathroom, Lodz, 1995
A rainbow stretched between the bathtub and the toilet bow. I stood watching the phenomenon for some time.
Cezary Bodzianowski, The Bicycle Thieves, Lodz, 2001