Renownded Polish artist makes Manchester debut

By Will Astbury

Manchester’s Cornerhouse is presenting the first major UK survey of Polish artist Artur Zmijewski.

Billed as one of the most consistently challenging, provocative and profoundly thoughtful artists in Europe at the moment, Zmijewski’s exhibition will run at the Oxford Road gallery from Friday 13 November 2009 to Sunday 10 January 2010 and will include the major installation work ‘Repetition’ (2005).

In Repetition Zmijewski revisits Professor Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment which studied the psychological effects on people when placed in prisoner or guard roles.

Alongside the main event there will be a number of other works, including the critically acclaimed video ‘Them’ (2007).

Them, which first shown at the prestigious Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany, is set in a warehouse in Warsaw and documents representatives from different social-groups from contemporary Poland and the ensuing exchanges between them.

Devout Catholic women, a Gay and Lesbian group, members of the neo-nationalist Union of Polish Youths, Jewish teenagers and young left-wing activists were brought together. They were then asked to create an emblematic image that symbolised Poland and their respective positions. The participants were able to making changes to each other’s works. This forced participants to interact, to negotiate, to fight, or to withdraw.

Zmijewski is known as an observer of human behaviour in unusual situations and his works have evolved and refined over a number of years.

He deliberately provokes reactions from his participants in order to study society and his work can be really something to watch.

Make your way down to Cornerhouse, Manchester’s International Centre for Contemporary Visual Arts and Film, and experience and Zmijewski’s uncompromising work.

The exhibition, which is curated by The Salford Restoration Office, is part of Polska! Year – a celebration of Polish Culture happening throughout the UK.

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