Between the Disciplines

Most recent years in Polish contemporary art have been a time of art expanding into new areas: not necessarily into social or political life, but rather horizontally, into other fields of artistic creation. We have been witness to subsequent voltae in art: in performance and sound art as well as in cinematography. An interdisciplinary character of work has transpired as a crucial factor describing contemporary art. Renowned visual artists (Robert Rumas, Anna Zaradny, Wojciech Puś, Aleksandra Wasilkowska, Mikołaj Grospierre, Olga Mokrzycka) have formed lasting bonds with theatre directors as authors of scenography, becoming an integral part of the theatre community. Furthermore, visual artists have become successful in literature and poetry (Bianka Rolando, Norman Leto, Wojciech Bąkowski), music (the phenomenon highlighted by the Zachęta Gallery in its 2013 The Artists festival), and applied graphic arts (many visual artists work in graphics; many graphic artists come up with decidedly artistic projects).

Nonetheless, “performative art” has been the key slogan of visual arts during recent years; their relation to theatre, opera, contemporary dance, and fashion have become apparent in art institution programmes as well as in new and multi-faceted art productions (Zorka Wollny, Wojciech Ziemilski, Bracia, Wojciech Kosma). Notably, any dialogue or co-operation between artistic institutions and traditional centres, festivals, and theoreticians of “classic” Polish performance art is absent, the latter operating as a subculture well-nigh unacceptable to the mainstream, and reaching solely the few fans of the genre.

The cinematographic field (so-called Cinema Art) is gaining popularity, with its full-length feature films by visual artists targeting distribution by professional cinemas. Since the days of Uklański’s Summer Love, Wilhelm Sasnal has become a leading Polish film artist; It Looks Pretty from a Distance, a piece he made with Anka Sasnal, has been the most spectacular success of the new genre to date.

Walser, Zbigniew Libera’s newest production, and Performer, a film telling the story of Oskar Dawicki and his work, are both awaiting their premieres. Notably, it is rather the strength of individual projects (feature film, volume of poetry, theatre performance) verified by non-artistic audiences than the recognition of an endeavour as forming part of the artistic world that has become the success criterion for such interdisciplinary ventures.