Sedzia Glowny: Being the Chief Judge / Retrospective at Awangarda Gallery, Wroclaw / Poland

The group Sedzia Glowny (Chief Judge) – Karolina Wiktor and Aleksandra Kubiak – has radicalized the Polish performance-art scene. Since 2001, this unusual duo has been pushing the limits of human exhaustion to the further point of serious health conditions. Ania Ejsmont met up with the duo on the occasion of their recent retrospective titled “Being the Chief Judge” at BWA Awangarda Gallery, Wrocław, Poland.

The exhibition is an atypical retrospective devoted to the short but intensive career of the group Sedzia Glowny, spanning less than a decade. It consists of film footage of their most important performances, as edited by the artists for this exhibition. The footage follows a classic, chronological narration, leading the viewer through the consecutive Chapters. This is accompanied by two separate entities – The Hopeless Ones and Hommages.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

From the press release:

From the very beginning, Sedzia Glowny’s art developed in close connection with important global changes in contemporary mentality, as influenced by free-market gender stereotyping and new media formats, including reality shows, phone sex lines, tabloid press and interactive TV. Through their activities, the artists often reacted to particular social events that were concerned with the status and legal issues of women.

In drawing upon conclusions from the experience of “critical art”, Karolina Wiktor and Ola Kubiak also merge the political commitment so typical of artists of their previous generation with a consistent development of performing awareness. They make references to the artistic quest of the now-considered-classic performance artists – Natalie LL, Marina Abramovic and Zofia Kulik and at the same time remain fascinated by the ritual roots of performance-art. Using their own private fixations and traumas, they explore borderline spheres of human intimacy. In many cases, the starting point for the group’s activities was a personal drama which went beyond the individual dimension and through to a ritualistic, double action.

Gradually, the substance of the group’s performances became the intense relationship between the artists following the script and the audience taking an active part in the show. Their characteristic strategy of “double performance” soon emerged. With their voluptuous (sex object) feminine appearances, the artists often assumed passive roles, subject to manipulative actions by the audience. The artists appeared to give up all their power, allowing the audience to animate and set them in motion by giving orders. Thus the artists became a medium for people to fulfill their unsophisticated and often sadistic fantasies, their need to control and dictate the rules, but also with an accompanying sense of guilt and sympathy.

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