The exhibition 'I is another' consists of Bruce Nauman's movie "Flesh white to black to flesh" from 1968 r and self- portraits of Krzysztof Niemczyk, made in late 60’s of XX century. In the androgynous, expressive paintings of Niemczyk one can find the traces of author’s face, decorated with over- done face paints- almost a mask. The artist seeks to use this make- up to identify of himself. On the other hand Nauman presents himself while painting his naked chest and face first white, and then black, in order to remove in the end the color, and to show again his bare face. Nauman exemplifies the fundamental question of apparent differences and basic similarities, the quintessence of humanity. Both works of Nauman and Niemczyk were created at the same time but in two very different political and economic environments but both projects use the same gesture of make- up. The use of a mask symbolizes for both artists their deep, essential truth.
Krzysztof Niemczyk (1938-1994) was born in Warsaw, lived and worked in Cracow/ He was a writer, painter, performer, author of over twenty narratives (only two of them were preserved to this day) but primarily the author of epic novel "The Courtesan and the Chicks, or a Crooked Mirror of Passionate Action, or A Study of Chaos" (1965-1968), which was not publish until 30 years later. In the same time, in the second half of the 60s., Niemczyk was closely associated with the community of the Cricot 2 theatre of Tadeusz Kantor, the Krzysztofory Kraków gallery, and the Foksal gallery in Warsaw, but he never exhibited his work there. Rather then he created numerous of spontaneous and controversial actions and performances in public. Anka Ptaszkowska, art historian, critic and a friend of Niemczyk, writes: “Street events organized by artists were called happenings, which deemed them socially sanctioned, legal 'artistic activities'. Niemczyk did not use that protection and extended the frames of art as much as he strained the limits of life”. Krzysztof Niemczyk was considered as genius by his friend Tadeusz Kantor and his wife, Maria Stangret, but in the end of 60s. their relation was broken. As Ptaszkowska says: “Niemczyk was not interested in power and the Foksal Gallery was not his domain. The sole fact of existence of a person like Niemczyk significantly undermined the position of Kantor, revealing the dissonance between verbalism of artistic manifestos and living experience of the ideas contained in them.” This situation is considered as one of the factors that Niemczyk was excluded from artistic society and from the society in general. He was active in 60s., in the totalitarian reality of the People's Republic of Poland, which he constantly undermined by the way he lived. HIS existence was outside the social and political system, he challenged the principles of socialist society. Likewise, it would probably negate every reality in which he would live. In Poland, for a long time, he remained unknown, despite the fact that his novel, published in France, was praised there as the most outstanding work of Polish literature of the twentieth century.
By some called genius, by other just insane, was repressed and arrested and he spent many months in prison and in psychiatric hospitals. His legendary apartment, which in the 1960s was a Mecca of the Polish hippie movement and which in 1965 was visited by Allan Ginsberg, was destroyed. What remains is his legacy: mostly his epic novel, a few narratives and fascinating correspondence with his sister and friends, including Anka Ptaszkowska, his paintings, photographs, documenting his "actions" and happenings and his self portraits made up in many ways. The paintings, photographs and eponymous courtesan from his novel - a specific alter ego of the author build the image of Krzysztof Niemczyk as the first Polish 20th-century queer artist.
Bruce Nauman (b. 1941) is one of most important and influential figures in contemporary art. His seminal films and videotapes from the 1960s and '70s are among the most innovative contributions to media art. In these conceptual works, Nauman uses his body as an art object, executing repetitive performance actions in his studio. Exploiting the phenomenology of the medium, including its immediacy, space, and intimacy, his real-time gestures investigate the very process of making art, but not only: by them Nauman considers his identity as an artist but also condition of contemporary society. Installation, sculpture, performance and photography are also among the many mediums he works with.
curator: Marika Kuźmicz display: Agnieszka Lasota, design: Fontarte Studio