Katarzyna Kozyra's first solo exhibition in China was presented at the Beijing branch of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.
Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing is the only art centre in China entirely devoted to showing and promoting practices of contemporary video art and photography. Kozyra's body of work was presented in a very particular manner, according to the social and cultural specificity of the local context. The point of departure selected by the curators was an exploration of the performative character of Kozyra's artistic oeuvre offering a semantic and aesthetic view which is rather different from both the traditional approach towards the body typical of Chinese art, and the practice of performance art implemented within Chinese contemporary art circles. The emphasis on the staging aspect of Kozyra's pieces was aimed at fostering the dialogue concerning what in art is allowed, and what isn't; what is appropriate and what is improper; and whether the same forms of expression are equally available to men and women. But, most of all, it was meant to force the viewer and all the involved parties to wonder whether it is actually true that 'in art dreams come true.'
Jointly curated by Beijing-based art critic and curator Manuela Lietti, Warsaw-based curator and Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation Director Anna Walewska, as well as the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre's in-house curator Chen Shen, this exhibition acted as a retrospective featuring the most significant pieces of Kozyra's artistic practice. The show, co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland, touched upon all the major issues investigated and questioned in Kozyra's body of work from the very beginning of her career in the 1990s to the present day. The body, (self-)identity, female physicality, contemporary concepts of beauty and gender, and the often-difficult encounter with the Other are just some of the issues that play a prominent role in Katarzyna Kozyra's oeuvre, and have also made the artist one of the most acclaimed yet controversial contemporary artists, in Poland and around the world. Thanks to her commitment to such universal issues, Kozyra has also been a key figure in pushing Polish art into the international realm, making it an active player in global contemporary discourse.
Animal Pyramid, the piece that brought the artist to international prominence and marked her debut in the contemporary art scene, was partially re-created on site by showing never-before-seen archival materials and drawings describing the genesis of one of the most controversial pieces of art ever created by a contemporary artist. Four videos (Cheerleader, Diva - Reincarnation, Il Castrato and Summertale), part of the cycle In Art Dreams Come True, showed the artist's focus on her own self-definition and on the boundaries within this process that stretch beyond stereotypes and fixed societal roles. Men's Bathhouse, the work first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1999 for which Kozyra won an honorable mention, was presented through a selection of video stills and a video. Casting, focusing on Kozyra's project for an autobiographical film, was juxtaposed with her ongoing project Looking for Jesus, a documentary film in which Kozyra is not an actor, but a spectator who investigates the effects and 'faces' of the Jerusalem syndrome through the eyes and actions of people who believe themselves to be present-day Messiahs. Self-irony and mockery dominate The Midget's Gallery, a series of artistic interventions that shed new light on the global art market and the history of art. The exhibition also featured a completely new site-specific arrangement of two of Kozyra's major pieces devoted to the world of dance: Faces and The Rite of Spring.