From "naive" to outsider
What is outsider art today?
Maria Wnęk, "May Day Parade", courtesy of the Ethnographic Museum in Torun
The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw invites to the first meeting accompanying the “Why We Have Wars” exhibition, during which we will discuss what outsider art used to be and what it is now.
Defining creative work that emerges outside the main art stream has been a problem since avant-garde artists developed an interest in it, which was about a hundred years ago. This is why we have so many names for it: primitive, naive, amateur, raw, unprofessional art, art brut or outsider art. Regardless of its name, this kind of art stays on the sidelines of the interests of art historians and contemporary art institutions, only finding its place in institutions devoted to art brut (like the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, which houses the collections and ideas of Jean Dubuffet) or in ethnographic museums.
Polish “naive” artists experienced peak interest in communist times, which was connected to the fact that it was viewed in the context of folk art, which gained it the interest of ethnographers. In those times names such as Nikifor, Ociepka and Sówka were widely known. The same cannot be said about contemporary outsiders, who are the focus of the “Why We Have Wars” exhibition.
What meaning does the Polish tradition of “art deemed naive” have, called so by its greatest advocate, prof. Aleksander Jackowski? What is outsider art today and is it correct to call it that? What is a suitable place for it to be shown? And what should be its place in the landscape of contemporary culture? Marek Beylin will discuss this with our guests: Małgorzata Szaefer - curator of art brut exhibitions and director of “tak” gallery in Poznań, Ewa Klekot - anthropologist, and artist Jacek Markiewicz.
Ewa Klekot - anthropologist and translator; teaches at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw and at the School of Form in Poznań. She does anthropological research on heritage and museums, as well as on the anthropology of design and art, especially the social construction of folk and primitive art, the materiality of objects regarded as design, art, heritage or museum exhibits, and the issues of the socially differentiating potential of art (kitsch); she is a member of the editorial board of “Ethnologia Europaea” and the editorial team of “Zbiór Wiadomości do Antropologii Muzealnej”.
Jacek Markiewicz - visual artist, founder and curator of a.r.t. Gallery in Płock. He attended the State Higher School of Visual Arts in Łódź in 1986-1988, then transferred to Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under prof. Grzegorz Kowalski. Markiewicz played a significant role in the history of the professor's workshop, Kowalnia, not only as an artist, but also as an animator. He founded the a.r.t. Gallery in Płock in 1992, even before graduating, and displayed mainly works by Kowalnia students. In the following years, apart from contemporary art exhibitions, Markiewicz organized many art brut shows, in cooperation with Płock's Oto Ja Association.
Małgorzata Szaefer – curator, director of the “tak” Gallery in Poznań, researcher of art brut/outsider art. She organizes exhibitions, educational meetings, artist residencies, conducts research and meets outsiders in Poland and abroad. She has organized Polish art brut exhibitions abroad: „The Host in a Bottle art from Poland” (2013) at the art)&(marges museum in Brussels, „Les Saints de l’art Polonnais” (2013) at the Creation Franche Museum in Belges/ Bordeaux. She has also brought works of world famous outsider artists to Poland, where they were shown in the “tak” Gallery in Poznań as part of exhibitions: „Mind the Gap – oustsider art from Belgium” (2013), „PPPPPPPP/Josef Hofer” (2012), „Timlessness_Zdenek Kosek/Lubos Plny” (2013), „Utopię Waszą Utopię” (2015). In 2011, as a result of a collaboration with European art brut institutions, she published the first Polish book on the importance of verbal records in female art brut/outsider art („Kochany Ptaku Kruku”/„Mr. Raven, My Love Bird”, published with support from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage). She currently works with the “Zemsta” Anarchist Club/Cafe, Barak Kultury in Poznań and Fundacja Sztuczna in Warsaw, as part of the “Black Flag/ outsider art” project.