The performance Unsinkability was presented in the summer of 2015 during the “Contexts” 5th International Festival of Ephemeral Art in Sokołowsko. Quoting a seemingly trivial story about a certain academic paper, the artist confronts the topic of water, which provides the main theme of the festival. She begins by confessing to her artistic impotence that hampered her preparations to this particular performance. Evoking a dialogue between her and her husband, “Professor of Earth Sciences” becomes a pretext to share reflection on her own artistic practice as well as the general situation of the artist in the world. “I have to describe what I’m going to do, but I don’t know what I’m going to do so I can’t do it in advance” – the performer confesses, thus emphasising the incongruity of the specified requirements and the character of her work.
Zarzycka allows us to look behind the scenes of the work of an artist who needs to live up to the expectations of the festival organisers and often comes underpressure to create a new work that surpasses all previous achievements. Impotence, failure, doubt, the feeling of lack of sense – these experiences, shared by almost everyone, make it possible for the viewers to identify with the stories told by Zarzycka. The personal confessions abolish the distance between the artist and the audience. What is more, the informal and humorous language builds an intimate atmosphere of a social gathering. In his report from Sokołowsko, Łukasz Musielak distinguished Unsinkability as one of the best works. He wrote: “Ewa Zarzycka manifested sobriety by problematising the very sense of performing in a festival context and came up with a self-referential cabaret monologue instead of a classically understood performance.”
The artist developed the model of spoken performances in the 1980s. At times seemingly trivial and humorous, her stories are essentially a way to pursue reflection on the sense of creative work. Zarzycka sometimes quotes conversations with her husband or friends, yet advice offered by people from her immediate circle is usually useless and only underscores the hopelessness of the situation. The majority of Zarzycka’s performances adopt a similar form, such as Untitled from Drohobych (2014) and Maintaining the Artistic Position from 1989, presented at the BWA Gallery in Koszalin. The performance was translated into English by the curator of the “Contexts” Festival Małgorzata Sady.
Language: polish / english (consecutive interpretation)
© Ewa Zarzycka