The artist carried out the performance during the show „Mit Spraeche und Geste” (16-18.03.1984), where he was invited as the only non-German representative. In Stuttgart, Warpechowski repeated his Dialogue with Fish – the action performed for the first time ten years before at the DESA Gallery in Cracow, under the title Autopsy. It is considered to be the first performance in which the artist included self-aggression into the language of his artistic expression.
He began by telling the story of activities with fish (starting with the situation at Andrzej Partum’s Poetry Office in 1971) and explaining their meaning with illustrations. He then grabbed a living trout from the aquarium filled with water, laid it on the table and immersed his own head, swapping places and natural ecosystems. When he couldn’t hold his breath any longer, the artist took the head out and let the fish return to its natural environment. The situation was repeated several times until the fish did not wake up when thrown into the water.
As the artist himself claims, he “made a mistake by underestimating the vital forces of the fish”, which altered slightly the course of events, since the fluttering fish fell off the table. Yet the element of risk and unpredictability is always inherent in the situations arranged by Warpechowski. Based on the antinomy of two co-existing, but incongruous ecosystems, the performance belongs to this branch of the artist’s oeuvre where he makes the opposites clash brutally in order to break mental sets. Here, Warpechowski uses real suffering (both of the fish and his own) to elicit genuine emotions.
References: Z. Warpechowski, Zasobnik. Autorski opis trzydziestu lat drogi życia poprzez sztukę performance, Gdańsk 1998.
Place: Kuenstlerhaus Stuttgart, Niemcy
© Zbigniew Warpechowski
Ownership form: deposit