IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME BY NOW, YOU WILL NEVER NEVER NEVER KNOW ME
Artists: Sanja Iveković, Natalia LL, Jolanta Marcolla, Letíci Parente, Ewa Partum, Martha Rosler, Lisa Steele
Curator: Marika Kuźmicz
Display: Agnieszka Lasota
The exhibition at the Arton Foundation showcases the common characteristics of film practices pursued by artists from Poland and abroad. The show embraces some of the most significant works of Polish video art and a canon of selected international works, all of which originate from the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s.
The exhibition shows how women-artists created their individual but, at the same time, common artistic language. Although the gathered films and videos were created in different social and political contexts – in Poland, ex-Yugoslavia, United States, Canada and Brazil – they concentrate on kindred themes. Works by Leticia Parente (1930-1991), Martha Rosler (b. 1943), Sanja Iveković (b. 1949) and Jolanta Marcolla (b. 1950) concentrate of the schemes that regulate the way women function in the society. Rosler’s seminal work Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) and Parente’s film Tarefa I (1982) criticise and mock the top-down act of ascribing traditional social roles to women. In her work Kiss (1975), Marcolla addresses the objectification of the image of women in contemporary mass culture, whereas Iveković’s project Make Up, Make Down (1978) reveals the inner workings of the same phenomenon through the observation of the process of applying makeup.
The artists use cameras to tell personal stories, create self-portraits and diaries of their own experiences. Alongside the new perspective opened up by the emergence of the medium of video, lightweight mobile cameras also appeared on the scene. Video tape, which did not require post-production, made it possible to create films without engaging an entire film crew. Image could be recorded at any point, without prior preparations. Polish women-artists, who had no access to video technology at the time, relied on film cameras as well as 8 and 16 mm film.
Such intimate records presented in the exhibition are works by Lisa Steele (Birthday Suit with Scars and Defects, 1974) and Natalia LL (Impressions, 1973). Steele’s film documents her own body, its defects, scares and various sorts of marks as a record of the artist’s sensations and experiences. Natalia LL’s work is a merry and spontaneous tale of one’s own corporeality and the experience of it. In Tautological Cinema (1974), Ewa Partum launches a critique of the language used in the art world, dominated by men-artists. Partum taps into her own womanhood to lay bare the inadequacy and constraints of that language.