Wojciech Dada, Katarzyna Górna & Rafal Jakubowicz: Cleansing

Dada, Górna and Jakubowicz’s film references the 2001 American production entitled “Conspiracy” [distributed in Poland with the Polish title reading: „Ostateczne rozwiązanie”, literally translated as ‘final solution’]. The American film is based on archival protocols documenting the Wansee Conference (held 20 January, 1942), where a group of senior Nazi officials gathered to ‘resolve the Jewish question’. During the conference, the Nazis make the tragic decision to mass-exterminate Jews with the use of gas chambers.

The film refers to the aesthetics and drama of the original, but takes on an entirely different issue: the legitimacy of human existence as a species in the eyes of animals. As part of the narrative, animals plot to take revenge on their enemies.

Various representatives of the animal kingdom act as judges and provide an extensive list of arguments against the harmful activities of homo sapiens. Different issues that have threatened the existence of life on Earth throughout the development of human civilization: from the suffering of animals on industrial farms, through tons of plastics polluting the oceans, to greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate catastrophe.

The fact that the viewer has no doubt as to who actually takes part in the proceedings amplifies the grotesque character of these scenes. People – who, every day, kill animals all over the world – are hiding behind the images of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The cheap, latex masks used in the film express the objectifying, colonial attitude of humans towards all other species inhabiting the planet. The film depicts the profound tragedy of animals – not only are their needs disrespected, but also – especially in the case of farm animals – their suffering is not understood or treated with empathy.

Wojciech Dada (b. 1964) is an artist and graduate of the Faculty of Painting, Graphic Design and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland (1995). He has since taught at the University of Arts in Poznań. In 2002 Dada joined the Wunderteam artistic group, together with Rafał Jakubowicz, and, since 2005, Maciej Kurak, previously also with Paweł Kaszczyński and Włodek Filipek (d. 2005). Dada has presented his works at solo and group exhibitions, including shows at Galeria Działań _in Warsaw, National Museum in Krakow, Wyspa Gallery in Gdańsk, Kubus Gallery in Hannover, Center of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, ON Gallery in Poznań, Zona Sztuki Aktualnej in Łódź, Entrepôt (port du canal) a Venarey-Les-Laumes, France, Anarchistyczny Klub/Księgarnia Zemsta in Poznań, and CSW Znaki Czasu in Toruń.

Katarzyna Górna (b. 1968)  is an artist and graduate of the “Kowalnia” studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Her work is representative of the genre known as ‘critical art’. Over the course of the last decade, Górna’s works have become socially engaged manifestos concerning, among others, the exploitation of workers, climate change, and multinationals. Since 2009, Górna has also been involved in the struggle for the rights of artists and cultural workers. She is the co-founder of the Citizen’s Forum for Contemporary Arts. In 2019, she received a doctorate in art from the Academy of Art in Szczecin.

Rafał Jakubowicz (b. 1974) is an artist and graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts (Faculty of Art Education and the Faculty of Painting, Graphics and Sculpture) and the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań _(Faculty of Modern Languages, majoring in Hebrew Studies). He is a member of the Workers’ Initiative Trade Union (Inicjatywa Pracownicza). In his projects and teaching practice, he addresses the problems of the precariat, the trade union movement, exploitation, and the practices of resistance in special economic zones. He is also interested in the social costs of transformation in Poland and Eastern Europe, unemployment and class discrimination, anti-social housing policies, poverty ghettos and penal management of poverty, as well as the appropriation of memory in the context of historical policy. In 2015, he created an illuminated relief portraying Jolanta Brzeska, the Warsaw tenant rights activist, entitled “Musicie coś _zrobić” [“You have to do something”] for the WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION festival.

Agnė Jokšė: Dear Friend

Agnė Jokšė Dear Friend, 2019, Single channel video, 24:17 mins
Courtesy of the Artist.
Selected by Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius

Dear friend is a video by Lithuanian artist Agnė Jokšė. Performed by the artist and based on a letter-form text written in contemplation of friendship as platonic love between queer women, the work openly and sensitively speaks about various forms of love, affection and care in the contemporary world.

Artist Q&A

Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?
I grew up in Vilnius, Lithuania. My main practice is writing, however, as a reader I’ve always been more curious about the sense lived through the text, the unsaid or somehow by words and their agreed meanings - untellable. Moving image, as a medium, carries multidimensionality of elements that can contain layers and layers of information. It’s exciting, like finding a treasure - a box full of all kinds of tools to come closer and explore the space in between the lines.

What inspired/influenced you to make the work?
The passion for friends.

What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m working on a video work called Unconditional Love which is an ongoing inquiry into entangled cross-generational family relations and their role in the claim of kinship.

Agnė Jokšė (b. 1993) is currently based in Copenhagen, studying for a Master’s degree at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Media Arts. In 2017, Jokšė graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts, Department of Monumental Painting and Stage Design. Since 2018 she actively participates in various art projects. The work Dear Friend was produced by the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius and won the JCDecaux Award in 2019.

Kenneth Tam: Breakfast in Bed

Part social experiment, part absurdist theater, Kenneth Tam's Breakfast in Bed (2016) explores male-to-male intimacy, roleplay, and constructions of masculinity.

For the video, Tam recruited seven non-actors from online forums such as Craigslist and Reddit to participate in a mock men's social club. Occupying a stage-like domestic space built within the artist's studio, participants engaged in team-building activities, ritual-like movement exercises, and sincere exchanges of affirmation. Despite their lack of affiliation with one another before filming, these activities seem to foster a sense of tenderness among strangers.

Employing playful improvisation and guided collaboration, Tam's project undermines normative male social conventions and deconstructs codes of behavior.

Participants: Gilberto Arriaga, Ben Corley, Phillip Dickey, Bruce Dolen, Niko Flores, Spencer Freeman and Trevor Meek.


Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?
I grew up in Queens in New York City. While I went to art school, I have no formal training in making moving image work. That happened out of necessity as my practice shifted into a more performative space and I needed a way to record what I was doing. While my initial use of the camera was basically for documentary purposes, my relationship to creating moving images has evolved since then. Also, I've always loved film and am very interested in the crossovers between arthouse cinema and moving image artworks.

What inspired/influenced you to make the work?
Prior to Breakfast in Bed, I had been making video works that featured myself and another person in front of the camera working in improvised, loosely-scripted ways. I knew I wanted my next project to be situated in a group context, and to use the group as a way to understand the construction and performance of a certain kind of masculinity. I was interested to see how people performed within a group, especially the negotiations that arise when forming a consensus. I also knew that working within a group would allow me to step back behind the camera, which I felt was a natural shift in my work.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently in the final stages of post-production on a new two-channel work that will debut at the Queens Museum, New York. The project asks what Asian-American masculinity might be, and uses the stock figure of the cowboy to imagine alternative models of performance that meet at the intersection of race and gender. I'm also working on a new video installation that continues my interest in Asian-American fraternities, and the rituals they conduct as a means of creating group identity.

Kenneth Tam’s (b. 1982, United States) work takes the form of video installations that include moving image works and sculpture, and explores gender performativity and broader themes of the negotiation of identity. His work has been exhibited at The SculptureCenter, MIT List Visual Arts Center, and the Hammer Museum amongst other institutions. He will have a solo exhibition at the Queens Museum in the spring of 2021, and will participate in The Shed's Open Call in the summer. He has recently produced his first live (streamed) performance at The Kitchen, and has been an artist-in-residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Pioneer Works, The Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, and the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA. He is a graduate of the Cooper Union.

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