Host: Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
Curators: Anna Walewska, Manuela Lietti, Chen Shen
Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation and Three Shadows Photography Art Centre are delighted to announce Katarzyna Kozyra’s first solo exhibition in China, opening on July 16, 2016 at the Beijing branch of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.
Jointly curated by Beijing-based art critic and curator Manuela Lietti, Warsaw-based curator and Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation Director Anna Walewska, as well as the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre’s in-house curator Chen Shen, this exhibition acts as a retrospective featuring the most significant pieces of Kozyra’s artistic practice. The show, co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland, touches upon all the major issues investigated and questioned in Kozyra’s body of work from the very beginning of her career in the 1990s to the present day. The body, (self-)identity, female physicality, contemporary concepts of beauty and gender, and the often-difficult encounter with the Other are just some of the issues that play a prominent role in Katarzyna Kozyra’s oeuvre, and have also made the artist one of the most acclaimed yet controversial contemporary artists, in Poland and around the world. Thanks to her commitment to such universal issues, Kozyra has also been a key figure in pushing Polish art into the international realm, making it an active player in global contemporary discourse.
Pyramid of Animals, the piece that brought the artist to international prominence and marked her debut in the contemporary art scene, will be partially re-created on site by showing never-before-seen archival materials and drawings that describe the genesis of one of the most controversial pieces of art ever created by a contemporary artist. Four videos (Cheerleader, Diva.Reincarnation, Il Castrato, and Summertale), part of the cycle In Art Dreams Come True, will show the artist’s focus on her own self-definition and on the boundaries within this process that stretch beyond stereotypes and fixed societal roles. Men’s Bathhouse, first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and for which Kozyra won an honorable mention, will be presented through a selection of video stills and a video. Casting. Mor, focusing on Kozyra’s project for an autobiographical film, will be juxtaposed with her ongoing project Looking for Jesus, a documentary film in which Kozyra is not an actor, but a spectator who investigates the effects and “faces” of the Jerusalem syndrome through the eyes and actions of people who believe themselves to be present-day Messiahs. Self-irony and mockery dominate The Midget’s Gallery, a series of artistic interventions that redefined or at least shed new light on the global art market and the history of art. The exhibition will also feature a completely new site-specific arrangement of two of Kozyra’s major pieces devoted to the world of dance: Faces and The Rite of Spring.
This exhibition highlights the specific yet universal nature of Kozyra’s performative ethos in light of Chinese performance art practice and Chinese contemporary art. Kozyra’s approach is the result of a specific methodology applied to create artworks where performance, documentary, cinema, and photography mix and shape new trajectories for art itself. This blending of genres is rarely found in the work of Chinese artists of the same generation, making her contribution even more valuable.
About the artist
Katarzyna Kozyra was born in 1963 in Warsaw. She is a sculptor, photographer, performance artist, filmmaker, and author of video installations and artistic actions. In 1993, she graduated from the Sculpture Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1998, she finished her postgraduate work in the New Media Department at the Hochschule für Graphik und Buchkunst in Leipzig with Prof. Helmut Mark. In 2011, she obtained her doctorate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Kozyra’s activities have been crucial in the development of the new Polish art movement known as Critical Art, and they have heavily influenced Polish contemporary culture, often as a starting point for a broader discussion at an international level. In 2013, the Huffington Post named Katarzyna Kozyra one of the ten most important female artists of the new millennium.
Over the last few decades, Kozyra’s work has been exhibited at major museums and institutions worldwide, including the Venice Biennale (Venice), São Paulo Biennale (São Paulo), Sidney Biennale (Sidney), Busan Biennale (Busan), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen (Düsseldorf), Kulturhuset (Stockholm), Museum Voor Moderne Kunst (Arnhem), Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (Wien), Brooklyn Museum (New York), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), CCA (Tel-Aviv) among others.
She has received the Paszport Polityki Award (1997), the Award of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (2011), and the Polish Film Institute / Museum of Modern Art Award at the 39th Film Festival in Gdynia for her idea for an experimental movie Project X. In 1999, she received an honorable mention at the 48th Venice Biennale for the video installation Men’s Bathhouse, exhibited in the Polish Pavilion. She has received a number of grants, such as the DAAD Scholarship (Berlin 2003) and the Kosciuszko Foundation Scholarship (New York 2000). In 2012, she established the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation, which focuses on supporting women’s activities in the area of culture and art.
About the curators
Manuela Lietti is an independent Italian art critic and curator specialized in contemporary Asian art. In 2003, she graduated from the department of Oriental Languages and Civilizations at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, having written her bachelors’ thesis on contemporary Chinese artist Yang Shaobin. After her graduation, she moved to Beijing where in 2007, she obtained her master’s degree in Chinese History of Art and Art Criticism from the Academy of Art and Design of Tsinghua University. Since 2003, Manuela has been active as a curator, critic, and coordinator in the field of gallery and museum exhibitions as well as public art projects, in China and abroad. She has cooperated with CAFA Art Museum (Beijing), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Venice Biennale (Venice), Israel Museum (Jerusalem), DSL Collection (Paris), Galleria Continua (Beijing), Associazione Arte Continua (San Gimignano, Beijing), The Chinese Ministry of Culture, The Italian Ministry of Culture. She is a correspondent for the art magazine Arte e Critica-Art and Criticism and regularly contributes to a number of other art publications included Frieze, Flash Art, artforum.com.cn and Artron.net.
Anna Walewska graduated from the Art History department of the University of Warsaw in 2012. Her research interests include mainly contemporary art and film history as well as women's issues. During her studies she completed an internship at the Institute of Industrial Design (2008, Warsaw) and Zacheta – National Gallery of Art (2010, Warsaw). From 2008 to 2010 she worked at the Department of Education of the National Museum in Warsaw. Since 2010 she has been working with Katarzyna Kozyra, initially as her personal assistant. Her professional experience includes working as an editor (for Rochstar Sp. z o.o., and Agora S.A., among others) and as a business manager. Anna is also a curator and producer of artistic and film projects. She is also the Director of the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation, which she has been creating from its outset.
Chen Shen, who was born and raised in China, holds an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan; an M.Sc. in New Media from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; and a B.A. in International Politics from Peking University, Beijing. Chen Shen is currently the curator of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre for which he curated and organised numerous exhibitions included “The 7th Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition” (2015), “The 2nd Three Shadows Experimental Image Open Exhibition” (2015), “On Methods – Solo Exhibition by Candida Höfer” (2015), “Chinese Photography: Twentieth Century and Beyond” (2015), “Land Representation (Program of Jimei X Arles International Photo Festival)”(2015), “Scripts of the Bodies: From the Collection of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre” (2016), “The 8th Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition” (2016), “Kassel Fotobook Festival & Editions Bessard | Beijing” (2016), “Shanghai 2002 - Bettina Rheims & Serge Bramly” (2016), “Father and Son - Solo Exhibition by Grégoire Korganow.”