From 7 September to 15 November 2013, the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle Warsaw is proud to present British British Polish Polish: Art from Europe’s Edges in the Long ‘90s and Today, the first major exhibition mounting a parallel investigation of British and Polish contemporary art.
Curated by Marek Goździewski and Tom Morton, the exhibition brings together for the first time the works of 64 British and Polish artists. Prominent British figures from the 1990s include: Henry Bond & Liam Gillick, Angela Bulloch, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Angus Fairhurst, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Michael Landy, Sarah Lucas, Paul Noble, Chris Ofili, Georgina Starr, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gillian Wearing, and Rachel Whiteread, alongside the influential Polish artists from this period: Paweł Althamer, Mirosław Bałka, C.U.K.T., Katarzyna Górna, Marek Kijewski, Grzegorz Klaman, Katarzyna Kozyra, Zofia Kulik, Zbigniew Libera, Jacek Markiewicz, Dorota Nieznalska, Mariola Przyjemska, Joanna Rajkowska, Robert Rumas, Wilhelm Sasnal, Jadwiga Sawicka, Roman Stańczak, Piotr Uklański, Julita Wójcik, Piotr Wyrzykowski, Alicja Żebrowska, and Artur Żmijewski. Works by these figures will be shown in parallel with a new generation of prominent artists from both countries such as Rupert Ackroyd, Aaron Angell, Ed Atkins, Matthew Darbyshire, Nicolas Deshayes, Jess Flood-Paddock, Haroon Mirza, Eddie Peake, Mick Peter, Elizabeth Price, Phoebe Unwin, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye from Britain and Wojciech Bąkowski, Michał Budny, Grzegorz Drozd, Michał Jankowski, Tomasz Kowalski, Katarzyna Krakowiak, Norman Leto, Anna Molska, Franciszek Orłowski, Agnieszka Polska, Katarzyna Przezwańska, Konrad Smoleński, Radek Szlaga, and Jakub Julian Ziółkowski from Poland.
With 140 artworks exhibited in a space measuring more than one and a half thousand square meters, British British Polish Polish: Art from Europe’s Edges in the Long ‘90s and Today is one of the most important artistic events organized by the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in 2013.
The departure point for British British Polish Polish is the extraordinary parallel flowering of contemporary art in Britain and Poland at the turn of the 1980s / 1990s, which is conventionally identified with two, much contested, ‘groups’: the Young British Artists, and the exponents of Polish Critical Art. Creating works that spoke with an arresting directness to a number of central human concerns—among them life and death, sex and violence, ethics and politics—these artists provoked considerable debate in their home countries, not least in the media, and helped transform the status of contemporary art in Britain and Poland from a specialist area of enquiry, seemingly of interest only to a small number of initiates, into a popular cultural form. Notably, these developments took place against the backdrop of two major shifts in each nation’s economic, and political, realities: in Britain, the ‘Big Bang’ sounded by the sudden deregulation of the financial markets in 1986—the year that Damien Hirst enrolled in Goldsmiths’ College—and in Poland, the end of Communism in 1989.
In addition to bringing together major works of British and Polish art from the ‘90s, the exhibition also showcases a new generation of artists from Britain and Poland, who have emerged in the period following the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8, and for whom the early ‘90s are as temporally—and perhaps culturally?—distant as the early ‘70s were for the YBAs, and exponents of Polish Critical Art. The presence of this new generation of artists in the exhibition prompts a set of questions: Do today’s emergent artists relate to, or react against, or simply ignore the legacy left by their predecessors? Is this an artistic legacy, or is it something broader: a context in which the public might experience, and consume, the work of art? Are we still in the ‘long 1990s’, or do we live in new, and uncharted, times?
British British Polish Polish will be accompanied by a major English / Polish language catalogue—editor: Agnieszka Pindera—with texts by the curators, the British authors J.J. Charlesworth, and Isobel Harbison, the Polish authors Jakub Bąk, Izabela Kowalczyk, Paweł Możdżyński, and archival research by Oliver Basciano and Maryla Sitkowska focusing on the British and Polish political and cultural scenes, and a programme of lectures and educational workshops.
Organisation of the exhibition is being supported by the British Council, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in Poland.