Ewa Partum: The Legality of Space - 1

Ewa Partum: The Legality of Space

[ Participants ]

Ewa Partum

Born in 1945 in Grodzisk Mazowiecki near Warsaw, Ewa Partum studied at the State College for Plastic Arts in Lódz (programme according to Wladyslaw Strzeminski) from 1963 to 1965, and continued her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Ewa Partum belongs to the first generation of Polish conceptualists, who appeared on the scene from 1965 onwards. Her work was pioneering not only in the development of conceptual art, but also of feminist art, body art, and critical art. She created “Presence/Absence”, the first installations in public space ever documented within Poland.
Her work also includes actions, objects, photographic cycles, films that she herself calls “tautological cinema”, visual poetry performances, and mail art. Ewa Partum defines the essence of her work in these terms: “the act of thought is an act of art”.
Since 1969 she has engaged in linguistic activities in an effort to find a new language of art. Actions and installations on a linguistic level followed, which were shown both in galleries and outdoors. Among them is her meta-poetry – the spilling and spreading of letters in the form of existent or non-existent texts from the history of literature (with some help from Goethe, Proust, and others). In the early 1970s she produced conceptual installations such as “Legality of Space” (1971) and “Breakfast on the Grass – after E. Manet” (1971). In 1972 she founded “Adres” in Lódz, one of the most significant galleries for mail art and art theory, which she managed until 1977. In 1973 and ’74 she developed her “tautological cinema” under the title “films by ewa”.
Ewa Partum counts as a pioneer of feminist art. 1971 saw her first lipstick prints, a symbol for feminine self-identification. From 1974 onwards she turned her own body into an artistic object, producing works that were devoted to the problem of feminism. In 1980 she produced “Self-identification”, a controversial cycle of photomontages that were displayed in the Mala Gallery in Warsaw. Much of her work was banned by Polish censors, and so was its reproduction in catalogues. During martial law in 1982, she realised her “Homage to Solidarity” in the Underground Gallery, Lódz.
Since 1983, Ewa Partum has lived in Berlin, where she moved at the invitation of the Fluxus artist Wolf Vorstell and of Berlin feminists. Numerous solo exhibitions of her work have so far been staged in Germany and Poland. In joint exhibitions, Partum’s art has also been shown in Spain, the USA, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Japan, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

Aneta Szyłak

Aneta Szyłak has worked as a curator and art critic based in Gdańsk, Poland since 1985. She is a Vice-President of the Wyspa Progress Foundation, a non-profit art organization established in 1994. In 1998 Aneta Szyłak founded the Center for Contemporary Art Łaźnia (Bathhouse) and was its Director until spring 2001. Currently she is a co-founder of the Wyspa Institute of Art – the intellectual environment for contemporary visual culture – in the former Gdańsk Shipyard premises. Her most recent shows include “Dockwatchers” (2005) at Wyspa Institute of Art, “Architectures of Gender” (2005) at SculptureCenter, NYC, “The Palimpsest Museum – 1st Biennale of Polish Art” (2004) in Łódź, and “Health & Safety” (2004) at Wyspa Institute of Art. She has written over a hundred texts about contemporary art, published in catalogues, books, and art magazines in Poland and abroad. She co-edited a book entitled “The Site of Idea. The Idea of Site” (1995) covering the first 10 years of the Gdańsk alternative art scene history. Currently she has been awarded the Jerzy Stajuda Award for “independent and uncompromising curatorial practice” (2005).

Dorota Monkiewicz

Dorota Monkiewicz was born in Warsaw in 1961. She studied art history at the Warsaw University. She now is the curator of the department for contemporary art at the Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum) in Warsaw as well as chairwoman of the Polish section of the International Association of Art Critics AICA. She is also the director of the Foundation for the contemporary collections of the Warsaw Muzeum Narodowe. Dorota Monkiewicz curated numerous exhibitions and scientific conferences; she is the author of more than 50 publications in which she mostly pays attention on contemporary art.

Berenika Partum

Born in 1974 in Łódź, Berenika Partum studied history and art history at Freie Universität Berlin. She is the author of exhibition reviews in various art magazines in German and Polish, e.g., “arteon”, “Magazyn Sztuki”, “Fluid”, and the Austrian magazine for contemporary art “Springerin”. The Internet portal for Eastern European art “arteastconnection.de” – with a focus on Poland – was developed under her direction. Her main area of interest is contemporary art from the 1960s onward.

Angelika Stepken

Angelika Stepken was born in 1955 in Moers. From 1974 to 1978 she studied art history, philosophy, and political science at the Freie Universität Berlin. In Florence she was trained as a restorer of paintings. From 1979 to 1980 she was a trainee and editorial journalist (arts section) with “Der Abend”, Berlin. In 1981 she interned at the Roman bureau of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). From 1981 to 1982 she worked as an editorial journalist with the “Volksblatt Berlin”.
Since 1982 Angelika Stepken has worked as an independent art critic, author, and exhibition curator. Her articles appeared in “art”, “Kunst intern”, and other magazines. Since 1998 she has been managing director of the Baden Art Association in Karlsruhe. With the beginning of November 2006 she’s director of Villa Romana in Florence, Italy.

Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdańsk

17 June – 24 September 2006
Opening: 17 June 2006, 7 p.m.
Workshop: 1–7 June 2006

Participating Institution
Fundacja Wyspa Progress, Gdańsk
Aneta Szyłak

Curatorial Advice
Dorota Monkiewicz, Angelika Stepken

Programme for Young Performers
Berenika Partum