Maciej Kurak & Max Skorwider, “Magdalena Abakanowicz UNRECOGNISED”, opening Thursday, 11th February 2010 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m

Maciej Kurak & Max Skorwider

Magdalena Abakanowicz UNRECOGNISED

opening Thursday, 11th February 2010 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m

29, Wadeson Str,
London E2 9DR


Exhibition open: 12.02.2010 – 07.03.2010
Curators of the Galeria Niewielka in Poznan are honoured to invite you to the
exhibition of “Magdalena Abakanowicz UNRECOGNISED”. It would probably be just
this way that such an invitation could well begin, save for the fact that
UNRECOGNISED is another joke-project. Maciej Kurak, well-known for his aloof,
tongue-in-cheek attitude sneered once again, this time together with Max Skorwider, at
mechanisms of the world of contemporary art. Before that he had brought to London
2.5 cubic metres of artistic atmosphere packed in a paper bag, had sent his avatar to
an opening of an exhibition in Dundee (by the way, the envoy was arrested in an
airport), he also was an alleged author of the “Poznan Banksy”. The artist
distinguished with such prestigious awards as “Paszport Polityki” awarded by
“Polityka” weekly magazine and “Spojrzenia” (by the Deutsche Bank Foundation)
shows once more how he looks at the system of art from the outside and chooses self-
mockery as motivation for his own actions.
Since 2009 Maciej Kurak and Max Skorwider run Niewielka gallery in Poznan. Its
name (which simply means “Little”) is as modest as the place itself. Exhibitions are
held there not on a regular basis and the gallery is never mentioned on the same
breath as Poznan most prestigious sites, such as Arsenal, National Museum or Art
Stations. Kurak and Skorwider made it their point to break through this curtain of
prestige and so decided to “invite” to their exhibition Magdalena Abakanowicz, the
Polish artist whose name had found place on the famous Tate Modern wall. However,
the curators faced a crucial dilemma – would the prominent sculptor indeed choose to
exhibit in such a small and broke gallery as theirs? About the only way to go was to
kidnap one of Abakanowicz’s 112 sculptures composing the group entitled
Unrecognised, standing in Poznan Citadel. That’s what Magdalena Abakanowicz
says about her Unrecognised: “This is my most important work. For me it is a sign of
a fear that lingers on, of being confronted with a number and with myself”. What a
honour was their, then! The Niewielka Gallery was to host Abakanowicz’s MOST
IMPORTANT WORK! Kurak and Skorwider went do-or-die as they indeed kidnapped
one of walking figures in the hope that nobody notices its temporary absence and that
the exhibition contributes to improved status of their gallery. Was it naivety or top-
notch sense of humour and sober look upon the reality in which artists and curators
operate? Kurak and Skorwider highlight the catch-as-catch-can rules of this world
where anything is used as long as is effective: plagiary, intellectual theft,
disinformation. Moreover, the artists say about that with brassy smiles. Rather than
judges of a court of justice, they play the roles of a child from The Emperor’s New
Clothes who cried out: “But he is naked!”. In a way similar to a couple of Chinese
artists Yuan Cai and Jian Jun Xi who lay down to Tracy Emin’s “My Bed” (Tate Modern
1999) and pissed to Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (Tate Modern 2000), the Poznan
duo ruthlessly mock at canonical sanctities of the art world. Their action was by no
means targeted against Magdalena Abakanowicz. What they chose to challenge is the
UNRECOGNISED may be described as a sort of ready made, a quotation – from
Abakanowicz and from Duchamp at the same time.
Characteristically, the artists only “borrowed” one of a group of sculptures. In doing
this, they took all the sense out of it. The sculpture expressing the feeling of an
individual being lost in the crowd, thrown in anonymity, in alienation, thus became but
a pale shadow of Abakanowicz’s true work. Kurak and Skorwider just exhibit “a bit of
Abakanowicz”, tempt the public with the famous name, apply marketing trick to attract
as much attention as possible. In doing that they used the very same manoeuvre as
used by institutions which artificially push-up their programmes with exhibitions of
mediocre or less important works by famous masters. Their exhibition becomes just a
fragment torn out from the context, a piece of the overwhelming system.
The exhibition in lokal_30_warszawa_london is a follow-up to that action. Here the
curators of Niewielka Gallery were invited with the exhibition they organised and the
work they “procured” to our London-based gallery. The trick goes on, London public
invited to the show by Maciej Kurak & Max Skorwider, see in fact the work of the Great
Magdalena Abakanowicz. What they experience vastly exceeds their expectations;
apart from the sculpture guests may see records documenting the act of its
“borrowing” and other “evidences of crime” prepared by the duo Kurak/Skorwider.
Michal Suchora