Two Polish artists, Agnieszka Kalinowska and Rafał Milach, as well as the curator and art critic Sebastian Cichocki will take part in this year's Gwangju Biennale in South Korea.
The Gwangju Biennale is one of the most important international exhibitions of contemporary art in Asia. This year’s edition of the event will consist of several exhibitions organised by different curators. One of them, titled Facing Phantom Borders, will feature works by Agnieszka Kalinowska and Rafał Milach.
Agnieszaka Kalinowska, a graduate of the Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, is active in the field of painting, video, sculpture, and installation. Her objects, made of raw and primitive materials such as straw, paper or string, present an emotional challenge for the viewer. The artist focuses on social problems as seen from the perspective of the individual, often one ostracized or stigmatized. Kalinowska analyses the marginalised problems and reveals subconscious fears. However, her works invariably touch on the abstract and are not as literal as critical art. Particularly characteristic of her output is the use of traditional folk techniques, such as weaving, thanks to which her works are more authentic and sincere.
In Gwangju, Agnieszka Kalinowska will present her installation Draughty House, which consists of a video work of the same title and a sculpture titled The Fence. In the video, the protagonists are asylum-seekers in Austria who talk about their respective pasts and expectations for the future. While they are talking, a fence-shaped object, The Fence, divides the video from the audience, making reference to the contradictory situation of the protagonists.
Rafał Milach is a visual artist, photographer and author of photo books. He has graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Poland and the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava, Czech Republic, where he currently works as a lecturer. For over ten years, he has been working on transition issues in former Eastern Block countries. He has earned worldwide recognition for his books The Winners and 7 Rooms. He has received grants from the Polish Ministry of Culture, Magnum Foundation and the European Cultural Foundation. He is a winner of prestigious photography awards, including the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, and co-founder of the Sputnik Photos collective. He has participated in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Poland and abroad. His works are found in the collections of the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan, Brandts in Odense in Denmark, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, ING Polish Art Foundation, Museum in Gliwice.
Rafał Milach’s series of photographs titled Refusal. Chasing a White Horse shown at the Gwangju Biennale examines various issues related to borders and political circumstances. The core story collects the traces of former Georgian president Mikhiel Saakashvili’s activities in the sea resort at the Abkhazian border. The series also captures the refugee camp, which is the aftermath of Russo-Georgian conflict in 2008 when Saakashvili was still president.
The Gwangju Biennale will also host a curator and art critic Sebastian Cichocki, the head of curatorial department at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Cichocki will conduct a lecture and workshop for the Curator Course accompanying the Biennale. His lecture, titled The Zero Phase. Art in Postartistic times, or the Practice of Everyday Life will focus on the writings by Jerzy Ludwiński (1930-2000), a Polish art theoretician and critic. The session is aimed at critical analysis of the functions of a nineteenth-century model of a museum, based on a set of rules and notions used for the organisation of the relationship between an artwork, its author, the institution in which the artworks are collected or displayed, and the spectator.
The presence of the Polish artists and the curator in Korea is the result of the Biennale representatives’ study visit to Poland in January 2018. Sungjung Kim, the President of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and artistic director of this year's edition, accompanied by Gridthiya Gaweewong, the curator of the Facing Phantom Borders exhibition, spent a week in Poland at the invitation of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. Their meetings with artists and curators, as well as visits to Polish galleries and museums resulted in the invitation for Rafał Milach, Agnieszka Kalinowska and Sebastian Cichocki to participate in the Gwangju Biennale.
Source: artists’ materials, compiled by AW, Sep 2018