On the Tip of the Tongue
Performance and the War of Words

“On the Tip of the Tongue: Performance and the War of Words” is a six-week program beginning at the end of September at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, entirely dedicated to performance and an “expanded” reflection on the issue of communication.

It seems that language has recently lost the ability to capture reality. And it is not only that the words are losing their meanings but they have also ceased to actually fit what they are trying to describe as a result of their many abuses, rhetorical games, or mockery. Instead of being a common area of a possible compromise, language has recently become very aggressive, egoistic, and inexpressive. It has thus lost its communicative function and, furthermore, it is unable to capture the dynamics of the current changes.

“On the Tip of the Tongue: Performance and the War of Words” is also an active take on these issues by means of references to a medium which is most sensitive to the here and now — performance. Performance enables communication with our surrounding reality, saturated with misunderstandings and conflicts. The invited artists — Cara Benedetto, Jeremiah Day, Wojciech Kosma, and Pope.L — resort to different contexts, practices, and activities. In so doing, they will be using performance as a tool that aims at capturing the changes by means of action, as language is no longer useful in articulating it.

A series of meetings and discussions with invited guests will accompany the actions of the artists. Moderated by Paweł Dobrosielski (Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw), the aim of these events will be to reflect on the devaluation of public debate in Poland, as well as on such notions as “gender,” “politics,” “pluralism,” “the nation,” or “the left/the right,” all of which have become commonly pervasive clichés that see to generate connotations with an obvious constellation of values and meanings. The participating guests will consider these words in an attempt to restore their meanings and historical continuity, as well as their power in describing reality.

To coincide with “On the Tip of the Tongue: Performance and the War of Words,” the Performance Archive will be launched — a continually expanded online archive showing the wealth and the ambiguous tradition of the history of performance in Poland. The archive will be presented and problematized in a series of meetings moderated by Joanna Krakowska (Art Institute at the Polish Academy of Science) and Piotr Morawski (Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw), with invited guests.