“Esprit De Corpes”
The exhibition is presented as the 4th edition of PLUG IN: PROJECT ROOM, an experimental space at TRAFO dedicated to Polish and international emerging artists.
"Esprit de corps (spirit of the body) is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.” Alexander H. Leighton
In 2013, Natalia Szostak was invited to participate in an art project in Studio M13 in Amsterdam, where she met with several international artists. The project explored the term "soma", coined by the American philosopher Richard Shusterman. "Soma" is a term used to describe 'mind' belonging to 'body', being one, as distinct from dichotomy of a 'body' and a 'mind' or negative associations of 'flesh'. From this perspective the indissolubility of body and mind creates all experiences, including philosophical interpretation, which occurs 'through' the body. Thus development of body awareness becomes a starting point and an essential element of any critical consideration.
Szostak with the assistance of artist Michał Jurys constructed an enclosed space within the Amsterdam residency studio, which previously functioned as a prayer hall. Once the installation was completed, she invited both artists and the visiting public to participate by posing a statement, a form of instruction: “stay in the room as long as you can keep subjective thoughts away from your mind”.
The documentation and reconstruction of this 2013 encounter in Amsterdam has been meticulously and thoughtfully installed into the TRAFO PLUG IN: PROJECT ROOM. This installation serves to construct a parallel between participatory action and crossing a literal threshold into a place where art can be experienced directly and without disturbances providing the viewer with a new way of perceiving time and space. Ideas of duration, presence, stillness and self-reflective experience have been considered. From the 'Medicine Buddha' Lapis Lazuli blue wall, to the formal instructions confronting the audience, Szostak's trade is to carefully acknowledge the process through which the audience may acquire insight and become part of the work.
Esprit de corps is yet another example of Szostak‘s thoughtful ability to use the body as a topic of exploration while cleverly capturing its many manifestations.
A comprehensive programme of educational activities for children and adults is also on offer to accompany this exhibition.
curator: Justyna Werbel
“On The Road” (series)
This exhibition was presented as the 3rd edition of PLUG IN: PROJECT ROOM, an experimental space at TRAFO dedicated to Polish and international emerging artists.
”I circled the Great Lakes borderland first in 2007 and much more thoroughly in 2015 with a curiosity about this vast region between the US and Canada I've been living all around. I wanted to embody this wild, populous, circuitous coast of people and places, with its coherent history, economy, and ecology. We speak of East and West coasters, islanders—to what extent is there a Great Lakes identity and culture oriented in this geography? My work with the region imagines how place constitutes people and not just vice versa; how people live with, and not just on, the lakes. It explores the idea that though we project onto nature a pristine essence that's been culturally-saturated, it's actually culture that is thoroughly naturally-saturated—when nature can be seen off the pedestal and in the rough corners of everyday life. Though this is an environmentally-tuned project, it also reaches for something less utilitarian in its conception—beyond resource management and towards a sense of nature as a radical "other" with which we have a relationship that can expand our capacity for difference, human and non-human. Personally, my interest in the Great Lakes also comes from the mythic immigrant trials of assimilation and making home; to identify myself not only with a nation-state or an ethnicity, but with a land, and conceive of how diverse others do so, daily, commonly. How big can “a place” be, to be from? What sort of bond is it to be tied by water?”
H O M E S Interdisciplinary, ongoing / 2015 Joyce Foundation fellowship for research, writing, performance, and partnerships: Prøve Gallery, Duluth MN; Grand Marais Art Colony, Grand Marais MN; Defsup Art Centre, Thunder Bay ON; Pukaskwa National Park ON; Debajehmujig Centre, Manitoulin Island ON; Bruce Peninsula National Park ON; Leamington Arts, Leamington ON; Theatre Centre and Great Lakes Commons, Toronto ON; RoCo, Rochester NY; MOCAD, Detroit MI; NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, Alpena MI; ISLAND, Traverse City MI; Silk Road Rising and Joyce Foundation, Chicago IL; Write On Door County, Door Peninsula WI
curator: Justyna Werbel
“TRACK(S)” was a sculptural, sound and performance installation created by JoannaDuda, one of the most interesting personalities of the younger generation on the European music scene. Duda a Polish born artist projects nostalgic and rare VHS footage of her childhood in Poland during the communist regime over a tunnel like installation made simply out of VHS tapes. The VHS tape and video camera were a rare technology in Poland during the 1990's due to the tight political grip of communism, hence very few now adult Pols have no form of video documentation of their past. During the installation period a young women performs in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion at the end of the tunnel. The audience confronted by the figure often enters the narrowing tunnel to identify whether the figure is real or an illusion. The space in which the viewer enters is filled with a live set created by Duda who is hidden within the installation. TRACK(S), ones trail left behind or the piece(s) that make up a complete music set is undeniably a powerful confrontation leaving the audience with indescribable audio/visual sensation.
"The concept of my piano playing incorporates a countless number of musical and situational inspirations. A subconscious, yet direct influence on my style of playing have had the years of practice at school and the music academy. There, in neighbouring exercise rooms, different pianists would polish their technique, which in turn created two or three layers of sound their authors were unaware of. I enjoyed playing in accord with one of them, sometimes repeating it exactly and waiting for an answer from behind the wall. Especially, when I knew who was on the other side, I was tempted to provoke him/her with his/her own phrase. What has remained the most clear in my auditory memories, is the walk through the long hallway, which we used to call "the piano hallway," at different times of the day. This is where the piano exercise rooms were located. Late in the afternoon, when our diligent virtuosos were in the midst of practice, the hallway was jam packed with decibels crunched into a shapeless mass of sound, which - together with the smell of floor paste and the sluggish light seeping from spherical chandeliers - is the essence of what the Gnilna street school was back in the day. As the day wore on, the cacophony transformed into more structured layers of sound, and one could make out individual musical pieces. Often, despite their autonomy, these layers of sound would synchronize into a quite logical whole, as if it was unconscious DJ'ing in its original and pure form. In contrast, the moment in which the silence was interrupted by a barely looming theme coming from the farthest room on the second floor, contained in itself an inexplicable kind of magic." -Joanna Duda
curator: Justyna Werbel
DIMITRI KARAKOSTAS & SONIA D’ARGENZIO
‘The Diplomats’ is a collaborative show featuring Dimitri Karakostas and Sonia D’Argenzio, an artist duo working with analogue photography. Often raising controversial subjects, they focus on documenting the lifestyles of contemporary youth associated with counterculture circles.
The couple’s collected work reveals a lifestyle that is visceral and charged with a raw appetite for life. The family album like shooting style is precisely what gives them their strength, allowing the viewer to peer into someone else’s diary. The experimental manipulation in the development process of their analogue photography is very present. Painting like images presented on a video loop are created on 35 mm film using watercolors, various art supplies, makeup, household cleaning products, chemicals and fire.
The word ‘diplomat’ is derived from the Greek ‘diplōmátēs’, the holder of a diploma a folded paper, literally a ‘folding’. Not only does this title refer to their voyeuristic and often homeless lifestyle, but also closely ties to their relationship with today’s zine culture.
In 2008, Dimitri Karakostas and a group of friends started the ‘Blood of the Young’ zine, which Karakostas continues to edit and produce with his partner D’Argenzio. The zine supports talented artists showing new work that otherwise would probably never have seen the light of day. Five years and 200 titles later, the same mandate of having everything handmade and independent is still number one.
The artists have had impressive achievements including many solo exhibitions, among others such as, Art Basel Miami (2013), MOMA PS1 (New York, 2013), Lens Gallery (Toronto, 2011), as well as numerous group exhibitions in America, Europe and Australia.
PLUG IN: SZCZECIN ZINE FEST
A zine is an independent, limited edition, non-commercial publication issued by a single person or a group of people; usually distributed in ‚the third circuit.’ It tends to express the views of a minority. Characterized by originality, freedom of thought, integrity of ideas and consistency in design, zines are often hand-made, while the most common duplicating technique used in their production is photocopying.
The first edition of the Szczecin Zine Fest is an international event accompanying the opening of the exhibition ’The Diplomats’ by Dimitri Karakostas and Sonia D’Argenzio, presented as the second edition of TRAFO PLUG IN: PROJECT ROOM. The event showcases the work of Polish and foreign zinesters, including examples from the Kostrzyn lithographic studio Meszuge, Graphic Design and Visual Communication students from the University of Arts in Poznań, local Szczecin artists as well as artists from abroad: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Toronto, and Quebec. The event will also feature a zine premiere – ‚Pomiędzy’ by Natalia Geissler, an artist who has been active on the local third circuit scene for over 20 years.
Aside from the desire to introduce the zine phenomenon to a wider audience, Szczecin Zine Fest aims to promote Polish and international alternative publishing scenes, to create a network of third circuit artists and to enable the presentation of works that otherwise would probably never have seen the light of day. Moreover, Szczecin Zine Fest attempts to revitalize the local community interested in the topic, those already involved in the creation of zines, limited-edition publishers and DIYs.
ELLA TETRAULT and RODRIGO MARTI
Artists Rodrigo Martí and Ella Tetrault were artists in residence at PLUG IN: PROJECT ROOM in July 2014 realizing an experimental ethnography that entailed binding and assembling elements of the infamous Berghain nightclub of Berlin with the TRAFO Cultural Centre. Having travelled back and forth between Berlin and Szczecin throughout the month the artists presented their experiences of the time spent between these two distinct institutions and opened a discussion about the potentialities of fusing elements of their cultural roles. Their lecture-performance was held in TRAFO’s Main Hall on Saturday, July 19, 2014