Common Space, Individual Space is a task carried out since the 1980s at Grzegorz Kowalski’s workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. It gathers on equal rights the students and the lecturers, who engage jointly in a communicative situation using only non-verbal means – visual forms, signs and gestures. Each participant begins with a specific “private area”, individual space at their disposal, or starting position, from which they enter the “common area”, space of interactions. Movement of one participant can elicit a spontaneous response of another. “Common Space, Individual Space draws the students’ attention to the communicative quality of art, it develops their sensitivity to the presence of the viewers,” as Karol Sienkiewicz comments. “But it also manifests the role of gestures with a weaker signification load, which serve the purpose of maintaining communication. Therefore communication is deemed a quality in its own right, it creates social ties”.
Carried out during the academic year 1992/1993, Common Space, Individual Space was the first realisation of the task preserved on film stock. The initial situation was set at the workshop with a wooden chest containing a naked model (Mariusz Maciejewski). “There is something about the objectification of the model at the Academy,” as Grzegorz Kowalski explains. “They are treated like objects – bodies, pure physicality. This objectification, inherent in the academic system, here also has a certain sense.” The objectified body became a corpse, which underwent various operations and interactions. Initially a mere object of artistic activities (Monika Zielińska sowed watercress in his pubic area, Jan Kubicki gave him a shave, Grzegorz Matusiak divided his body into parts with lines, Artur Żmijewski set him in motion on a special grid), the model-corpse was gradually recovering his self (e.g. when Monika Leczew sat with him inside the case filled with water). The realisation concluded with feast-mystery on the chest turned upside down, led by Grzegorz Kowalski and Roman Woźniak.
References: Obszar Wspólny, Obszar Własny/Common Space, Individual Space, K. Sienkiewicz (ed.), Warsaw 2011.
Source: BETA SP
© collection of Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw