Postmasters Gallery is pleased to announce a first solo exhibition in New York of Polish artist Katarzyna Kozyra.
The exhibition will open on Saturday, April 27 and will be on view until June 1, 2002.
The artist will present two new projects - videos and a series of photographs - created especially for the show. Katarzyna Kozyra is probably the best known of the younger generation of Polish artists. Her video installation "Men's Bathhouse" in which she entered men's baths in Budapest disguised as a young man was awarded one of the prizes at at the Venice Biennale in 1999. She is currently representing Poland at the Biennale in Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Kozyra's notoriety and controversial status in Poland is legendary and her works, never sensational for the sake of publicity, continue to elicit extreme responses and heated public discussions. Her installations, formally beautiful and poetic but driven by intense, confrontational content, often present her subjects without their full knowledge and/or consent. Through strategies of infiltration and exposure Kozyra's works confront myths, taboos, and stereotypes and touch upon larger universal truths about human nature, private behaviors, and conventional standards of beauty.
Kozyra's most recent works explore transgendering of her characters to question who is who in prescribed gender roles and to blur the distinctions of masculinity and femininity . Outfitting her models with sexual attributes of "the other" began in "Rites of Spring"- a revolutionary stop animation video which premiered at Renaissance Society in Chicago (2001). It continues in both installations at Postmasters.
*** The two projects on view show Kozyra's male subjects in two contrasting situations: playful sexual innocence and vulnerability of "Boys" is mirrored by fascination with weapons and para-militaristic games in "Punishment and Crime". Play and war not only contextualize and balance one another, they seem to traverse between the installations. Like gender, play as war and war as play become interchangeable.
"Boys" consists of three short videos and a series of photographs. They show naked young men ("dressed" only in vaginal looking thongs) posing during a photo session with the artist in the historic neo-classical and neo-baroque empty interiors of Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. Placed in front of the camera and lacking any specific instructions from the artist, the men are left to their own devices. They attempt to find themselves in these unnaturally natural circumstances by assuming poses and repeating movements remembered from action movies, paintings, or photographs. Games and interactions between the participants of the photo session, as well as, between them, the artist and the camera, are videotaped and show changing atmosphere on the set. Playful innocent aimlessness evolves into fleeting erotic tensions and undercurrents much like in films of Pier Paolo Passolini or photographs of Wilhelm van Gloeden.
The second project titled "Punishment and Crime" is presented on multiple projection screens and video monitors. It explores the other side of men's/boys' behaviors and fascinations and shows a group of men engaged in para-militaristic actions. For them, the weapons and explosives are not simply a hobby but a source of deep passion. Free of any ideals or ideological goals, their obsession appears primal and atavistic. The artist documents the actions and activities of this group, which on one level resemble innocent childhood war games, on the other, because of true danger, and violent force of real weapons, bullets and explosives, come closer to actual military operations. The faces of the participants are camouflaged with masks representing faces of actresses, pin-up girls or Playboy models. It softens the effect of danger and fear without canceling the authenticity and documentary character of the footage.