Agnes Janich

Review 5

Animals overruled Zacheta

All Creatures Great and Small in Zacheta


Flies, ants, cats, fawns, badgers and elephants starred in the works presented yesterday at the opening of All Creatures Great and Small in Zacheta. The show will open to the public on Saturday.


We concentrated, among others, on the human-animal relations as reflected in the works of different artists - said the show curator, Maria Brewinska.


Among dozens of works presented at Zacheta, the majority are video works. The audience will have a chance to appreciate, among others, the filmed performance of German artist Joseph Beuys from 1974. He visited New York to attend the opening of a new gallery. By the way, he realized a performance, closing himself in a cage with a coyote. It took quite a long time. He didn't talk to the animal, but the coyote slowly became friendly with him. There's a symbolic scene in the film when Bauys and the coyote watch a New York street - Brewinska said.


Dogs and cats: a never-ending story


The curator drew our attention to the fact that in Zacheta, works of artists which often use dogs in their art, are also presented. A perfect example is William Wegman, the owner of numerous dogs, which have been starring is his works for decades now.


There are also works of artists which rarely use animals - she observed. She gave the example of Jozef Robakowski's film Thoughts upon Licking, in which the artists' cat, Rudzik, was filmed during licking his fur.  Robakowski's voice comments the cat's actions: I lick, I lick, I lick, I think, I think, I think.


A wolf and a fawn


Also of interest are films picturing the interactions between animals. In 2004, Mircea Cantor did a video with a wolf and a fawn closed in a typical white cube. The fawn seems much calmer than the wolf, which seems more afraid and gone wild in this unusual situation - explained Brewinska.


The curator assured that the exhibition shows no drastic works. However, a scene in the film about a Mexican pitbull farm may be offensive to some. It shows a dog fight lasting several minutes. One has to overrule the other. It's the only film of that type, all the others are funny or talk about accepting animals - underlined Brewinska.


Brewinska also named Grzegorz Kowalski' s work very interesting. In the 70s, the artist organzied an action with his friends. He asked them, would they like to become an animal and if so, which. What resulted is a book describing their transformations, she said

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