Japaneseness in the Activities of Cotemporary Polish Artists on the Example of a Polish-Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibition Celebration

Paweł Pachciarek
(Osaka University; Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Poznań; Polish Institute of World Art Studies)

Through an in-depth aesthetical and critical evaluation of the biggest Polish-Japanese contemporary art project so far, “Celebration”, I will aim to demonstrate the reciprocal impact of “Polish” and “Japanese” determinants on artistic strategies and how these strategies have influenced artistic outcomes, as well as the artists themselves.

By pairing art professionals from these two particular, distant habitats to produce theme-specific works – as an outcome of the cross-country, on-site residency research stays (Kyoto in Japan and Poznan in Poland) – the main idea of Celebration was to create a live dialogue space, stimulating feedback of mutual learning and understanding. Moreover, the project, staged to take place in both countries, by default has provided the opportunity for various perspectives on issues such as social and political changes or the postcolonial reading of art from outside of the so-called Western discourse.

This study and my presentation will focus on how experiencing these two very culturally different landscapes in a most direct way – through the aforementioned residency research stays – has altered the invited artists’ workflow, as many have either changed their initial ideas, or conceived brand new ones in order to more consciously adapt to a given local context.

Tracing the inspirations which have preceded and created a framework for the forthcoming field work for most of the project’s specifically designed artworks, as well as by closely observing the production processes, the article – as well as the project itself – shows non-homogeneous phenomena in art scenes, demonstrating that the most vivid and saturated aspects of social life often originate amongst smaller structures, in obscure provinces, detached from privileged central locations.

Celebration, curated by the team led by Akira Tatehata (JP), Akiko Kasuya (JP), Paweł Pachciarek (JP/PL) and Stanisław Ruksza (PL) with more than 30 participants from both countries, takes place between May and August 2019 and is the core event of the programme dedicated to the centenary of the establishment of Polish-Japanese diplomatic relations. It comprises three semi-dependent editions in Kyoto (JP), Poznań (PL) and Szczecin (PL).