The analysis of performances given by artists tilts the balance of our attention towards the meanings represented by the human body, its political, semantic and cultural contexts. Regardless of where they have come from the artists do, however, speak about soul, rather hesitantly though... They do not deal with the artist's consciousness and their moral standpoints but with what is the essence of a living, moral consciousness. They speak about the soul linked with the body. The artist's body, the human body ceases to be merely a sign or a message defined and determined by its physicality and it starts to act as a carrier of the soul, transmission of - frequently non-verbal - assessments, moral choices, hopes, rebellions, fascinations, doubts and an infinity of feelings.
The notion of "soul" silently recurs during almost each performance art festival and makes us feel uncomfortable. In Polish this notion has a sort of archaic religious connotation and is actually not used in colloquial language anymore. It has been completely forgotten in the context of considerations on performance art, radical or critical arts.
Ewa Rybska & Wladyslaw Kazmierczak (Slupsk, Poland) performance: "Warning". The performance started with a lengthy period of the artists staring at spotlights from a close distance. The effect of pain, blindness and brightness had moved the performers into a space distracted by the influence of light. The performers kept tripping as they were unable to see and went on with their presentation. Kazmierczak used a magnifying glass, a video camera and a video projector to present photographs from the war in Iraq (a group of people gathered in the street collects burnt remains of a human corpse with a shovel),as well as malnourished children from the Sudan and India. This short and unclear presentation was meant to remind us of the world which is both parallel to ours and at the same time forgotten, even though images from this world are easily available on the Internet and in the media. Point-magnification made the photographs hardly intelligible and their dramatic reality was transformed into an abstract structure. This was to indicate how our moral "awareness", our familiarity with poverty and unhappiness is shifted into the area of ignorance. Simultaneously, for contrast, Rybska demonstrated gadgets from the world of pop culture, objects producing off-key tunes and false words. Their intensity, their prevalence gave the impression of growing and thickening hypocrisy.
In a later stage of the performance, the artists threw alarm clocks and books (Philosophy and Introduction to Philosophy) about. The books represented market products meant for contemporary philistines, published by Zysk (Profit) publishing house. This combination of time (?) and philosophy (?) as theoretical interpretation of our civilisation, questioning philosophy, questioning progress and its ethical principles became the essence of the performance.
Subsequently, the performers went on to collect fingerprints of members of the audience on a wide, stiff plastic transparency. Some of them were displayed on the screen and examined under a magnifying glass. Their magnified images resembled the abstract structure of photographs presented previously. The very process of collecting fingerprints brought about associations with the American policy of collecting fingerprints at airports, with treating each individual as a potential criminal. Once the prints had been collected the artists cut the long transparency in half and made them into crowns which were then put on their heads. The fingerprints became diadems beyond any control of computer systems.
The final stage of the performance was a kind of personal rebellion during which the artists used an air freshener in an unconventional way. Rybska held her freshener like a torch which made her - as she was wearing the crown - resemble the Statue of Liberty. The chemical substance which gave off both pleasant and stinking odours - originally designed to kill human natural odours - accumulated under the low gallery ceiling and absurdly turned into white foam dripping from the ceiling. Afterwards, the artists grabbed two tree branches and began to disperse the artificial, chemical odour.
Joan Casellas / Barcelona, Spain, Performance: "The trip of 10". The performance started with a presentation of a postcard with a sailing ship. This context of proximity with the sea, feeling of its past (?) was an introduction to the performance. The series of images which were presented afterwards surprised the public with their unconventionality. The artist approached nearly each member of the audience and gave them a kiss in the cheek. It was the photographers and TV cameramen which were surprised by this gesture the most. Having, in this way, said hello to the audience, Casellas hung down from the ceiling like a bat. He then took out his shoe-laces and, holding them like two vertical lines, he went around the space. Afterwards he took hold of one of his feet and kept it by his hip, jumping around the gallery on the other leg which presented his circus-like physical ability. The presentation of images by Casellas actually drew our attention to the context of the place, himself and the audience. The motive of journey, the displacement of Spaniards carrying the burden of both Americas is an extremely important one. Here it was brought down to a human dimension in a slightly absurd, self-ironic and extremely friendly way.
Jeff Huckleberry / Boston, USA, Performance: "I win". The artist gave a traditional performance dealing with the artist's physical endurance. His efforts started with the drinking of three bottles of beer, highlighting his muscles with a black marker and holding a loaf of bread. The process was not exceptionally long as, after a dozen minutes or so, Huckleberry dropped the relatively light loaf although he is a man of a visibly strong physique.
Juniper Perlis / Boston, USA, "Clothes 4". Perlis intended to practically bring the new fashion of exchanging clothing items from the streets of Berlin to the town of Ustka. 'Free Clothing Exchange' / 'Please Give and Take' were slogans used to encourage participation. Since in Ustka or even in other Polish towns there are no clothes exchange centres, Perlis walked around Ustka with a cardboard box full of various items of clothing and encouraged people to swap them. She continued doing this throughout the three festival days. We do not know exactly how successful she was but it is believed that about a dozen people took advantage. The accumulation of clothes, a glut in the market and aggressive capitalism have made many people initiate interpersonal actions probing attitudes to consumption. In this particular case Juniper Perlis aimed to promote the clothes swap / fashion release in Poland.
Ilana Michell / Newcastle UK. Untitled performance. The performance commenced unexpectedly. In her trousers she kept a torch switched on and a sizeable bundle of multi-colour tape which she stretched to mark a personal subjective line in space; 10, 20, 30, 100 metres. The way we followed her into the harbour made us sort of "get rid of" the place, rest from the white walls and find ourselves in a completely ordinary and real space. This ephemeral atmosphere misleadingly made us anticipate a complex structure of the performance yet nothing of this kind actually took place. The action was finished when she took out the last part of the tape out of her pocket. The artist gave this performance in Krakow twice - her performance was finished in the Schindler plant.
Christopher Hewitt / Berlin, UK & Juniper Perlis / Boston, USA Performance: "The Birth of Rock and Roll" by Hollywood Leather. Christopher Hewitt was completely invisible during the whole performance. He intended to draw our attention to the beginnings of rock'n'roll, the first ever record made by Elvis Presley in 1954 - 50 years ago. The author presumably remained lying in a black sack although no one was able to see. He simply started the tape with the historic cult song. The visible part of the performance was presented by Juniper Perlis wearing a rock'n'roll type leather outfit and a red motorcycle helmet on her head. There was a table with glasses of water on it, which Perlis went on to drink and break the glasses. The whole action had a feeling of rebellion or it may have been meant to remind us of it. The performance was finished with Perlis knocking over the table. Upon this we heard the sound of the Presley song coming out of the black sack.
Antoni Karwowski / Szczecin, Poland. Performance: "Scar" / "Blizna". The audience found a knife firmly thrust into the floor which served as a static point in space and a centre of the artist's actions. The necessity to stay at one point or place, anti-mobility became an important determiner (context) for the performance's construction. The performance started with the artist touching the knife thrust into the gallery floor with his lips. Then the artist went on to watch an old photograph but he did so in a particular way: while he was sitting on the chair his bare feet were placed on two metal sheets connected to an electric device of some kind. He was wearing a band on his forearm which was connected to the same device generating regular electric impulses. With each impulse his hand would jump up distracting his composure in watching the photograph. We do not know exactly what was on the black-and-white picture due it its small size. From the distance of a couple metres it was possible to recognise some people standing against the background of a house or a garden. Neither do we know whether the photograph was the artist's own souvenir or whether it had been accidentally found. After a dozen minutes or so the artist sat on another chair and started to cover his eyes with wax dripping from candles. At the end he took hold of a small radio receiver (possibly representing the world) tied to a rope, switched it on and started to turn it in circles which grew bigger and bigger until the radio smashed against a pillar.
Anthony Padgett / UK. Screening. The performer showed a very interesting film with his performance given in New York in close proximity to "Ground Zero". Padgett used the Christmas mood in the city to reflect upon contemporary civilisational and religious conflicts.
Magda Sowierszenko, Slupsk / Bochum, Poland. Performance. It was one of the simplest yet at the same time one of the most terrifying performances. Sowierszenko presented life of a 'turned-into-object' woman: housework, raising children, cooking, cleaning and browsing weekly magazines. She treated a woman's life as empty existence, simultaneously placing herself beside other objects (or functions) surrounding her. Obviously one might wonder whether this issue is indeed so significant and prevalent. We do, however, believe the artist and her determination in presenting such a dramatic image of a woman's existence.
The artist gave a slightly different version of her performance in Cracow where she dealt with the issue of women's engagement in contact with cosmetics because of men and the fact that they belong to them. "Magda presented a video film with housework done by a "pretty girl". In the background we can hear words commenting on her beauty with the recurring question "Whose?". While watching the film, the artist takes off the top of her outfit and covering her breast with a colourful cloth she sits by a male member of the audience when the "Whose?" question is being posed." (An excerpt from a description by Antoni Szoska)
Roberto Rossini / Genoa, Italy. Ritual-poetic action / godless (black plague doctor) dedicated to Antonin Artaud. Rossini told his story in a truly shaman-like manner and using mysterious gestures and signs. The ritual had an extremely pure and logical structure. It started with a commencement signal given by Buddhist bells. Then the performer put a bird's mask on his head and made a series of gestures related to the image being displayed: changing signs and letters. Apart from symbolic geometric form and numbers we also saw the motif of a knife and a red scarf worn on the neck as it is by priests. The final stage of the performance was another series of symbolic gestures: the artists drank from long glass dishes: wine (red), olive oil (gold) and milk (white). The same performance had had a number of other final elements - it would end with slicing bread, smashing bricks or leaving a red (red paint) palm print on a stone.
Tamar Raban / Tel Aviv, Israel. Performance "Kiss". Kiss in Hebrew means pocket. The performance represented a series of memories, at times difficult to understand. It was a way of talking about one's past. Kisses - pockets. Memory - sensitivity, perhaps love of a kind. The double meaning of the word "kiss" became the structure of the performance. Raban stood on a pedestal wearing a white paper dress - like a wedding dress - especially designed without any zips or buttons but with a number of pockets placed on various parts of the body. The performer took out small pieces of paper from these pockets and left prints of her lips, unfastened a pocket to turn it into a cap, took out an egg to fry it on a real pan and unfastened two pockets with the word KISS uncovering her body. The performance was dedicated to people, places and memories. In the background we could see an excavator working among remains of the burnt centre of performance art in Tel Aviv which had been founded and run by Tamar Raban. The tape recorder played the exotic sounds of a song from somewhere in the Tibet which then turned out to be a private recording made for the artists in Moscow. The signer was an artist from Kaukas. Another tune which was a rock song hardly known in Poland represented memories more remote in time, from the 60s. Tamar Raban gave her performance in a kind of trance drawing deeply from inside, from her memory. Slight, minimalist gestures and scarcely used mimicry took us to the world of Raban located in a number of her pockets - kisses but also, I believe, to many "kisses" of our own.
Clare Charnley & Magda Sowierszenko / Leeds, UK . Collaborative performance / "Speech". The concept of performance proposed by Clark Charnley, namely using a language we do not know, hardly ever becomes something interesting. In this case, however, we experienced a unique, witty performance which truly entertained the audience. The simple idea behind the performance was that Charnley wore a hidden ear plug which received radio signals with a banal text dictated by Magda Sowierszenko from hiding which was then repeated by Charnley. Word by word, the artist repeated difficult Polish words with near perfection yet with disturbed rhythm and ignorance of punctuation. She had a very serious, even sad face and slowly continued eating a bowl of soup. The essential element was that she pronounced the words without understanding them and suspiciously watched reactions of the audience. The artist created a genuinely comic situation. The secret of the performance was not the hidden technology behind it but a month's practice during which Clare repeated the text previously recorded for her by Magda Sowierszenko. The performance carried a very different message than the actual words which were pronounced. It drew our attention to a certain mental zone, a confusing situation and an attempt to recover from the fact that one's mother tongue is used worldwide. Another version of the "Speech" performance was presented in Cracow. It dealt with a banal, nearly erotic story told by a lovelorn (?) woman. The relationship between the text and the actual performance was different as it lacked this delicate ambivalence. The way the artist communicated with an unknown audience did, however, establish some sort of trust, visibly exposing self-irony and presenting the inevitable violence of the English language.
Anthony Padgett / UK. "Interreligious Race" . The performance by Padgett was an invitation to the audience to participate in a game - a race of deities: Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Jehovah and a witch. Selected members of the audience pulled the strings and to everyone's surprise the winner was the witch (shamanism). From the perspective of the greatest religious systems we might consider the race as unsettled. From the perspective of conscientious observers we can only speak of irony or even scorn poured on religion. In Cracow, Anthony Padgett presented another version of the same performance titled: "Interreligious Race" - Krakow Grand Prix".
The artist is completely absorbed by analysing religious symbols, their origins and meanings; he uses and actually combines various liturgical outfits and symbols. He gives no priority to any of the religions. Anthony Padgett does not, however, ignore the energy flowing out of great religious systems. He feels their power, their overwhelming power which in extreme cases may result in the elimination of people from other religious systems. In the current situation when another wave of xenophobia gains in strength following the Arab terrorism and when the Huntington theory on inevitability of war between civilisations constantly attracts new advocates it seems most sensible to introduce such forms which combine all religions. The question remains, however, how to do it? The interreligious disco dance or the interreligious race could become such forms as they are intelligible for all people. Obviously, a combination of such extreme systems would require the provision of permanent explanations of differences and the popularisation of other religions as it is the only possible solution for the co-existence of religions.
Di Clay / Carlisle, UK. Performance: "The Title". The performance by Di Clay was of an extremely minimalist nature. It started in the dark. The artist undressed in the light of a small torch which barely lit the space. The process of undressing made us anticipate something mysterious. The artist lit parts of her body and watched them in the mirror. She performed slowly and in total composure. On the one hand, the performer's body became a heavily unreal biological object and on the other it demonstrated the demonic human texture of skin and muscle tone.
She marked the "bad" spots on her body with clothes pegs, they were spots with lower skin tightness. Subsequently the artist went on to perform a series of pretty unclear procedure of drawing (?) or painting (?) her body with some substance or paint. Towards the end she put on white overalls. Some parts of her picture sank into the white paper outfit. Di Clay later revealed that it was her first ever performance naked. It seems that her decision is fully justified as she had to do it to successfully deal with intimate problems of women whose bodies gradually change and cease to resemble "ideals" of beauty presented by advertising spots.
Jose Torres Tama / New Orleans, USA / Ecuador. Performance "$CASINOAMERICA$". This, though possibly longest performance of the festival is at the same time the simplest to describe. The presentation by Jose Torres Tama was against the hypocrisy of America and the hypocrisy of capitalists. He applied a range of spectacular "American" gadgets turning himself into a demonic and intelligent critic of the system. The artist was invited to participate in the festival as he offers an extremely spectacular, theatrical performance and presents a perfect command of previously memorised lines. His performance never changes at all. These kinds of performance artists have always irritated performers with visual roots, performers without acting skills, yet we feel obliged by the principle of openness to also present this "worse" kind of performance bordering on theatre or cabaret. We feel obliged to present this kind of performance which paradoxically enjoys popularity among the audience.
Karolina Stepniowska / Torun, Poland. Performance: Untitled. Stepniowska presented a performance on the Olympic Games. The five Olympic rings were used in a say carefree play of those invited. Each of them were supposed to turn their ring like a hoolah hoop or otherwise. The game was rather chaotic as its participants displayed varying levels of skill. In the background the artist undressed herself and started mixing various soils. She then lay down and mixed the soils with bits of meat. The performance ended in a rather unexpected manner with the artist throwing the mixture of soil and meat at people. Unsurprisingly a conflict arose when one person protested against things being thrown at them.
BBB Johannes Deimling / Berlin, Germany. Performance: "Words don't come easy". The artist gave his performance in three versions: in Ustka, Cracow and Bielsko-Biala. In two of them the artist used a line from the The lord's prayer ("And lead us not into temptation") and another line in the third "Give us this day our daily bread". All performances were linked by similar actions and, it appears, a similar artist's standpoint. In the first one he wound large letters (the quotation) cut off from thick cardboard around his head and broke a number of pencils, in the second he did so with a bunch of roses and in the third he turned two bread loafs into shoes and walked in them into another place, all of which produced a kind of catechism of the artist.
Jeffrey Byrd / Iowa, USA. Performance: "The bath of Venus". This obvious quotation from a painting by Botticelli inspired the American artist. Byrd wore a black petticoat, black little shoes on high heels and had his head and face painted in white in the way mime artists or Butoh dancers do. Standing by a container with water he played the role of a grotesque prima ballerina - exalted, excited and singing parts of arias which made his presentation a surreal picture. This consideration of the aesthetics of opera music and (to some degree) aesthetics in general, perhaps even his personal admiration of it ended in a nostalgic failure of the artist as a man to express himself.
Andrzej Pawelczyk / Świnoujście, Poland. Performance: "Identity of the place". The performer started by taking out crumbs from loaves of bread and forming it into sticks which he used to produce the word HEIMAT. Then he hung plastic bags filled with milk and wine around his body. He then pierced the bags to mark his personal space - white-and-red (?) on the reclaimed land (?). The issue of identity is essentially up-to-date and relevant for the artist who lives in Świnoujście - a town on an island without any regular connection with the mainland.
Danilo Casti & Alessandro Carboni OOFF.OURO / Sardinia, Italy. Performance: "EN - AU - BO" / Real Time Composition around Trilite System. The performance given by this pair of artists coming from Sardinia was a combination of dance, music and visual effects. The dance presented in the art gallery was different from one in the factory. It appeared that the floor had a great significance for the nature of performance and especially its reciprocal position against the audience. The wooden floor of the art gallery allowed for dance among people which was an extraordinary experience for all involved.
Di Clay / Carlisle, UK. "An Action on the beach". The idea behind the action was of a very simple nature. Di Clay collected small bits of personal belongings or from the bodies of members of the audience. It could either be a hair or a nail, the air breathed out, a few sand bits, a small letter with a few words on it or a few drops of urine. Together with the "donors" she placed all of this in balloons. After filling them with helium a sizeable group of participants marched to the beach. All of them climbed a platform placed relatively high above the land to release their balloons which slowly disappeared in the dark sky. Wind from the land took the balloons somewhere above the sea and our particles were moved into an unknown abyss.
Adva Drori / Tel Aviv, Israel. Performance: "Soul" / "Nefesh". The word "soul" is a translation of a Hebrew word nefesh [נפש]. The Hebrew word is a homonymous noun meaning the essence of life common for all living and feeling beings, for example "in whom the living soul (nefesh) resides" (Genesis 1, 30). It may also mean "blood" as in "You shall not eat blood (nefesh) with meat" (Deuteronomy 12, 23). Yet another meaning of this term is "ratio" which is a feature distinctive for human beings as in "For the life of the Lord, who gave us soul (nefesh)" (Jeremiah 38, 16). It also labels the part of a man which remains after his death (nefesh, soul); compare: "May the soul of my Lord be tied in the knot of life" (Samuel I 25, 29). Finally it also means "will", compare: "For him to make the princesses do his will (be-nafsho)" (Psalms 105, 22);
Only after becoming familiar with this interpretation of the biblical reference to "soul" can we understand the performance given by Adva Drori better. The artist used family photographs from before the 2nd World War when her family lived in Cracow, Poland. Most of the people in the picture are now dead. They were either killed during the Holocaust or died otherwise. Drori was sitting on little cushions in the middle of a beautiful carpet wearing a dress with photographs of her relatives sewn onto it. There was bread, lard (spread) in beautiful oriental dishes, olive oil in a pot, a mirror, photographs and a small cooker with two plates. On one of them there was inscription in Hebrew נפש and on the other the star of David - symbol of Israel.
The artist invited people to join her and taste the toasted bread with the word "nefesh" and the star of David, to look at the photographs and write in blood (or ink resembling blood) on the family photographs. This ritual performance brought back memories of those who were not among the living anymore. It formed some sort of communication with the souls of the dead. It also appears that the other meanings of the word "nefesh" come to light when we carry out a more in-depth analysis.
Adva Drori gave the same performance in the art gallery in Ustka, the Schindler factory and BWA (Bureau of Artistic Exhibitions) in Bielsko-Biala. Each of them was slightly different. Each of them was moving, warm and brought to mind the souls of the people in the photographs in a slightly different way.
Angel Pastor / Barcelona, Spain & Malgorzata Butterwick / Krakow, Poland. Performance: "Enjoy the Performance". The festival in Cracow started with a surprise. A spectacular white Cracow carriage pulled by two fine white horses entered the enormous Schindler factory. The passengers were Angel Pastor and Malgorzata Butterwick. They threw sweets around from the inside wishing the artists and the festival a good luck. Another performance by Angel Pastor and Malgorzata Butterwick referred to the relationship between life and art. They told their story of how he had come from Barcelona and she from Belfast to start a "new life" in Cracow. The performance strictly related to the tourist side of town with its horse drawn carriages. It was also a way of greeting (with sweets and vodka) guests who came to witness the festival of performance art in Cracow. The artists glued the letters p, e, r, f, o, r, m, a, n, c, e to sweet white-and-red wrappings and inviting people who found them to join in. Angel Pastor who suffers from problems with standing and walking (a serious disease) stopped participating in the performance and invited others to take over. Did the audience understand his intentions? Not at all, they focused completely on the fine horses and letters glued to sweet wrappings which brought about discomfort for they were heralds of an unspoken message.
Artur Grabowski & Maciej Adamczyk / Krakow, Poland. Performance: "Made in Poland". The performers presented a lampoon on Polish society. Music from the highlands, white-and-red outfits, gadgets, eagles, vodka and fighting were all present and the whole event ended up in a sort of absurd way. Although their performance was perfectly clear - its excessive literality was not always well perceived. The accumulation of obviousness and super-condensation of Polish elements turned the performance into a satirical scene without any clear conclusion. The performance was also affected by the ad hoc participation of Maciej Adamczyk in Grabowski's(?) performance. The duo was characterised by extra dynamics yet the dynamics were of a theatrical nature which in this case seemed unnecessary.
Ewa Rybska & Wladyslaw Kazmierczak / Slupsk, Poland
The post-industrial part of Podgorze in Cracow (called Zablocie) is an abandoned place not visited by anyone without a clear reason. The "Victory" performance related directly to the Oskar Schindler enamel factory at 4 Lipowa Street, a place where the will to save human life defeated the prevalent ocean of Holocaust. Artists who were there quite accidentally were exposed to the pressure of history which they could either ignore or adopt as a topic of speech. Smartly dressed as usual, in black suits, white shirts, bow-ties and white gloves the performing couple, Wladyslaw Kazmierczak and Ewa Rybska, started their performance with a 45-minute definition of performance art recorded on DVD. The presentation dealt with open forms of performance art, its energetic potential and difficulties with defining it. The artists wanted to justify their presence right there because of the openness of forms in performance art which is extremely flexible and capable of reacting in practically each context. They symbolically paid tribute to the place using very simple requisites: air freshener in spray, a green tree-branch, metal ladder, hanger with a red T-shirt on it, red plastic trumpets, a huge kitchen knife, a brochure on the Schindler factory titled "Enamel" and pot lids. What was more surprising was the inability to understand the linear, narrative meaning of the performance, evasive plots and refraining from established structure of meaning. Each action and each gesture were, however, a reference to the very place.
Turning down the volume of the final part of the speech on performance, for instance, represented diminishing artistic discourse against dignity of the place. Apart from subtle actions of contemplating nature like searching for dust (somewhere high), snapping green leaves off the tree-branch or a distant reference to the recurring red colour from the film (based on a true story) "Schindler's List" by Spielberg we experienced a very expressive and extremely loud banging of enamel pot lids or noisy trumpeting.
Jeffery Byrd / Iowa, USA. Performance: "Blind Angel". In Cracow, Byrd focused our attention on his body made up to resemble the minimalist actor outfits from the Butoh theatre. The artist attempted to find a connection between two spots, perhaps also two worlds or maybe only two quotations from modern art history. We do not know exactly, we merely feel that that we might be dealing with Beuys ideogram (even-barred cross) or gold flakes by Ives Klein. The geometry of the cross indicating also the authorship of Malewicz or Mondrian was abandoned - not without difficulty - by the artists in favour of the complex relationship between metaphors, textures, materials and symbols. The visual layer of the performance may not have anything to do with art history. Perhaps what we could see emerged accidentally and the only point was the journey from point A to point B, a kind of self-transformation, an intriguing passage to the abyss ornamented with a rose covered with gold flakes.
Karolina Stepniowska / Torun, Poland. Performance: no title. The performance was a short comment on the accession of Poland(?) to the European Union. The young artist expressively supported euroscepticism. Her clear declaration was fulfilled though pinning up 10 zloty notes, covering her naked body with a white-and-red flag and the EU flag, covering her lips and eyes with adhesive tape and then finally when she was unable to see putting a loop on around her neck. The presentation was more than intriguing as the majority of audience members and artists express the opposite view. Stepniowska presented two versions of the same topics - the first, "tragic" was a kind of gesture of an "insane patriot" and the other more humorous titled "Super UE / Super EU" when she played the role of an object located in a supermarket trolley.
Di Clay & Jane Dudman / Carlisle, UK. Performance: "Sounddinas". The collaborative performance of Clay and Dudman started in March 2004 when the artists made a film in the "Trzy Kafki" Hotel during a preparatory meeting related to the festival and the Matrix project. Jane Dudman established contact with the festival as early as 2004 and she worked on a Polish - British exchange yet she could not physically participate either in Carlisle or in Poland due to pregnancy. The film represents some sort of her participation in the festival. Di Clay is engaged in a kind of living dialogue with Jane Dudman, a dialogue which actually is an attempt at reciprocal communication through sinking into the screen, marking traces of one's own body, using unknown words, syllables, letters, sounds and signs.
Jeff Huckleberry / Boston, USA Performance. The idea behind this performance was extremely simple. Jeff Huckleberry held two large pillows and invited the audience to fight with him with this safe weapon. The extremely strong performer was familiar with pillow fighting techniques and he gave no chance of winning. Huckleberry won again.
Joan Casellas / Barcelona. Spain. Performance: "The God is the geometry" The above statement, an axiom on God who is supposed to be geometry is obviously one which is difficult to prove. The performance was not an attempt to prove the theory through some sort of narration but merely an experience of the God's presence. In geometry and through geometry. This radical message with a non-geometric person in the main role created a tension of a kind, some composure yet at the same time doubt (question marks given away).
Massimo Arrigoni / Monza, Italy Performance: "Verbalis Kannibal". Arrigoni is an intelligent artist and an experienced neo-futurist. He is a representative of the Italian school of poesia senora, which is completely unknown in Poland. To express her shock after Massimo Arrigoni's performance, Agnieszka Okrzeja wrote in her notes on the festival in spam.art.pl: "It was so unexpected as the ease with which he played with words [Let us add that he did so in Italian, French and English focusing primarily on the similarity of syllables and words whose meanings differ - lips in French sound like the surname of American president - W.K.], mimicry, gestures and voice pitch in such a convincing way. Words in his mouth were absolutely alive. Hardly ever can we see poetry recited while vomiting." The performance was both an intelligent, formal game and a piece of engaged political discourse.
Tamar Raban / Tel Aviv, Israel. Performance: "The last letter". It is probably difficult to think of a better place for this performance. The artist used its context very precisely. The structure of the performance was primarily based upon an authentic last letter from the performer's relative - a young, intelligent girl called Tamar who died soon after in the Holocaust. The letter was read by the artists in the place where a struggle in the nightmare of war ended up with survival of a group of Jews. The performance was a terrifying story on human tragedy. Tamar Raban created a real meeting with the audience and told them their family story, she cooked broth and gave it to her guests. The performance unexpectedly turned into a moving tribute to the million of Jews killed by Germans. The performance moved a lot of the people and made some cry.
Artur Grabowski / Krakow, Poland. Performance "The next hero". The artist constructed a new cosmic (?), comic(?) type of hero. During the performance apart from many household utensils he used 8 large bread loafs which he turned into some sort of outfit transforming himself into quite a strange being and potentially another idol of the mass audience.
Ewa Rybska & Wladyslaw Kazmierczak / Slupsk, Poland. Performance "Quiet" / "No answer". The artists climbed a table which could collapse at each moment. The table was hence a danger and could at each time change the course of performance. While standing on the table the performers threw about certain objects which gave off no sound at all, e.g. they poured flour, threw about white and red tissues, released shaving gel which reached the floor in silence. They also poured water on their heads, "blew" red trumpets without making any sounds or pretended to bang pot lids without producing the expected sounds. At the end they glued the letters N, O, A, N, S, W, E, R. This performance was to some extent another version of the one presented in the Schindler factory. Silence and uncertainty became essence of discourse in what used to be a Jewish synagogue.
Magda Sowierszenko / Bochum / Slupsk, Poland. Performance / no title. The structure of the performance was extremely simple. "Armies" of toy soldiers displayed on a table were without mercy attacked by the artist and then by the audience. This pacifist performance needed no comment.
Joan Casellas / Barcelona, Spain. Performance "Love". The performance by Casellas had a similarly simple structure. A few unrelated scenes all in a way concerned love in its various forms.
Tamar Raban / Tel Aviv, Israel. Performance "She has a headache in her stomach". This performance in a way consisted of two parts. The first was a film starring the artist sitting in front of a mirror and the other was a story of her mother and returns to the family home. Telling the story involved the audience who were invited to jointly repeat gestures performed by the artist.
Anthony Padgett / UK. Performance: "Rakowian Heretics". Heretics from Rakow called themselves "Polish brothers". They were also known as socinians (after an Italian Faust Socyn), arians as advocates of one of the first anti-trinitarian bishop Arius, christians, unitarians, more rarely rakowians or scornfully 'divers' - because of the particular way they were baptised in. It was the most radical and, at the same time, the most progressive branch of protestantism established between 1562 and 1565 as the so-called smaller chapel of the evangelical-reformed (Calvinist) church. They were fought against by both Catholics and Calvinists. Their primary source of faith was the Bible in the framework set by ratio. They rejected the divinity of Jesus. L. Szucki as an expert in their achievements wrote: "socinians were best characterised by their minimalist doctrine [...], its humanisation." They established their centres in Pinczow, Lubartow, Lublin and Rakow (Rakowian Academy). A heretic from Rakow Piotr Statorius-Stojenski wrote the first Polish grammar. The socinians had a major influence on Polish literature and they played a key role in the development of Polish education and science. The ratio, religious tolerance, contradicting the Saint Trinity dogma, rejecting the divinity of Jesus, rejecting empty ceremonialism, the cult of paintings and relics were all foundations of their religion. They were extremely radical in everyday life, they rejected posts in office, refused to serve in the army, wore wooden swords, were against owning land and serfdom, did not accept the death penalty and division into classes. They advocated peace, brotherhood and giving property away to the poor.
For Anthony Padgett - a specialist in religious dogmas - the heretics from Rakow became a major inspiration for the performance where we could easily find a platform for the co-existence of all religions. In this case Padgett was not scornful at all, he was serious and aware of the far-fetching actions he undertook. Wearing liturgical outfit of a priest (vestment, stole, alb), Islamic yashmak, Jewish skull-cap, he started to cut in half a plaster statue of Jesus which he first filled with water.