Far too many stories to fit into so small a box
Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art WarsawFar too many stories to fit into so small a box
The collection of Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art was created in relation to the program that CCA ran since the 1980s, and reflects the political and social events in Poland timely to its creation. It formed “a permanent context for temporary exhibitions, presenting attitudes and trends”. In the meantime, artistic and curatorial strategies have been re-evaluated and the format of the institution has changed. By inviting Bik Van der Pol the CCA wants to bring different approaches towards the archive, to introduce a critical, outside point of view through the approach of an artistic practice, which would develop as ‘the collection as an artwork’.
The collection is largely built on gifts (works that were made and stayed without being acquired), deposits (forms of lending without being administered as such), copyrights (works that were remade, or stayed without the direct permission of the artist), and works that ‘just stayed’. In some ways, the collection is ‘clandestine’, and some highlights have an unclear or ambiguous status. Following this, Bik Van der Pol ask who owns history. What is memory and what is oblivion? Who creates archives? Who decides? Can word-of-mouth stories be a legitimate part a collection or archive? Is it possible to build communality around a collection of artworks?
Bik Van der Pol critically examine – from the vantage point of outsiders – the history of the CCA as well as take on board its founding myth. From the beginning CCA has been associated with theatre. The first director after 1989, Wojtek Krukowski, was also director of Akademia Ruchu (Academy of Movement), and the concept of process and movement is fundamental to the first 20 years of the CCA. The potential of collecting as a process is connected to not only it being rooted, here, in theatre and performance, but is also connected to Bik Van der Pol’s premise to understand process as an art practice and part of the production of work.
The title of the exhibition is inspired by a work of the artist Lawrence Weiner, Far Too Many Things to Fit into so Small a Box, once placed on the façade of the building in the 1990s, which has become the institution’s unofficial motto. In 2014 CCA lost this piece when it was painted over during the last renovation.
The exhibition speaks about what is elusive and transitory and how such qualities relate to the complex mechanisms of remembering and forgetting. Bik Van der Pol aimed to understand the commonality of the archive and how we may include in the collection those stories that have been passed on only by the word of mouth.
During their residency they researched documents, texts and publications of the CCA in the library, archives and storage, looked at exhibition history at CCA, and the Theater Institute. And to make sense of all of this they embarked on a dialogue with many different individuals who have participated in creating the institution, its history and its larger context. These recorded dialogues form the basis for a script that combines the many threads of this input.
The artifacts, artworks, films, documents, snippets, and leftovers in the exhibition are connected through the ‘dynamic’ performative script, built of the complex history of the institution. As facts recalled by the witnesses have been dependent on their subjective memory of the events, so is the script apt to modifications; according to what is remembered by the spectators. The performances reflect this dynamics; they are continuously modified by performers in interaction with the public, while fragments of the script create a narrative trajectory though a thread of labels throughout the show.
Soundscape by Wojtek Blecharz, is based on the script. The soundpiece can be played from thirty speakers, that are activated and carried around
by the public. Together they create a spacial experience that in encountering builds a relationship with the works, soundpieces on static speakers, and, occasionally, live performances. The multi-layered composition is never the same.
Posters are also a form of ‘theatre’ where the production, distribution and consumption of knowledge is synthesized as ‘performative sculpture’. The posters carry quotes from the script and function as markers, or footnotes perhaps, throughout the spaces.
And finally, Other Lessons consists of a public program that includes workshops with Jolanta Krukowska, Janusz Baldyga, Wojtek Blecharz, Ania Nowak and Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, as well as guided tours led by persons related to the institution.
Concept, research and script by Bik Van der Pol. Curator Joanna Zielinska. Visual Identification by Fontarte. Exhibition Design by Matosek Niezgoda. Choreography by Ania Nowak. Performers Agnieszka Ayen Kaim, Mamadou Góo Bâ, Billy Morgan, Ania Nowak, Jagoda Szymkiewicz. [Soundscape by Wojtek Blecharz Soundscape by Wojtek Blecharz]. Soundpiece static speakers by Bik Van der Pol. Soundpiece The Castle by Bik Van der Pol