November 10, 2016

Thoughts Isolated: The Foksal Gallery Archives, 1966–2016

The James Gallery at CUNY Graduate Center
Zbigniew Gostomski, Windows Without a View (Winter Assemblage), 1969. Site-specific installation outside Foksal Gallery. Photo: J. Borowski. Courtesy of the Foksal Gallery.

Curators: Katherine Carl, Katarzyna Krysiak, David Senior
Cooperation: Bartek Remisko and Martyna Stołpiec. With special thanks to Anna Ficek and Jennifer Wilkinson
Organizers: James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY and Foksal Gallery, Mazaovia Institute of Culture, Warsaw

Founded by artists and critics in 1966 in Warsaw, Poland, the Foksal Gallery has thrived through transitions in the realms of government, the economy, and the art world. How does the Foksal Gallery illuminate ways of building a sustained art community and legacy? The archives tell the story of the gallery as a model of an arts space run as a collaboration between artists and critics and engaged consistently in critical reflexive dialogue about its purpose/mission and meaning.

The exhibition opens on the occasion of the Foksal Gallery’s 50th anniversary featuring the Foksal Gallery Archive’s unique set of resources of original papers, photographs, printed matter and artworks collected since the gallery’s founding. The exhibition includes early exhibition catalogues, invitations, posters and flyers, often designed by the artists themselves. Original material such as maquettes and designs for exhibitions are also to be found, as well as a large amount of photographic documentation of performances, installations and social gatherings at the gallery as well as sound and moving image recordings of early happenings and events.

The theoretical writings of the core critics who formed the Foksal’s philosophical agenda, such as Wiesław Borowski, Hanna Ptaszkowska, Mariusz Tchorek and Andrzej Turowski, were provocations towards rethinking how art could be presented. This exhibition pays homage to their work and theoretical rigor which emphasized new artistic concepts that changed how art could take place and disperse itself. These key texts form the enduring legacy of the Foksal Gallery.

Thoughts Isolated, the exhibition’s title, is excerpted from a text entitled “The Living Archives” by Wiesław Borowski and Andrzej Turowski (1971), in which the artists-critics stated in bold text: “WE DO NOT PRESENT HISTORY BUT WE KEEP THOUGHTS ISOLATED.” This notion captures the Foksal Gallery’s continued exploration of role of the archive in the gallery’s program. As we trace the various ways in which the archive was staged throughout the history of the gallery, this exhibition is similarly an experiment with archival practice.

In its current state, housed in same small gallery space in Warsaw, the Foksal Gallery Archive demonstrates the truly experimental nature of the exhibitions and performances by gallery artists like Henryk Stażewski, Zbigniew Gostomski, Tadeusz Kantor, Edward Krasiński, Maria Stangret, and Stanisław Dróżdż and generally, the role played by the gallery in shaping the history of contemporary Polish art (more).

The exhibition was made possible by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland; the support of the Polish Cultural Institute, New York; the patronage of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute/ Special thanks to Anka Ptaszkowska.

Additional support from The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York; The Kosciuszko Foundation; The Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America, Inc.; Artists Alliance Inc.; CEC ArtsLink; EFA Project Space; Franklin Furnace; NURTUREart Non-Profit, Inc.; Residency Unlimited.

James Gallery programs

Monday, November 21, 6:30pm
Lecture and discussion
Achieving Rapport: Art and Archives at Foksal Gallery
Katarzyna Krysiak, Pawel Polit, David Senior, Justyna Wesołowska.
Moderated by Katherine Carl

Tuesday, November 22, 6:30pm
Gallery tour
Thoughts Isolated: The Foksal Gallery Archives, 1966–2016 
Katherine Carl, Katarzyna Krysiak, David Senior

Wednesday, December 7, 7pm
Object-Oriented Feminism
Irina Aristarkhova, Katherine Behar, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Ashley Dawson, Piper Marshall, R Joshua Scannell

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