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The Dialogue – street action for film by Anna Kutera

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Date: 1973

Participant: Anna Kutera

Location: Wrocław

In wintertime the artist engages passersby and provokes very simple interactions with them in busy but not significant places in of Wrocław. The six-minute black-and-white 16 mm silent movie documenting this action is divided into five parts and every one of them is marked by a caption with a slogan describing the artist’s actions. The first étude, “Good morning!,” shows simple welcome signs. The second one, “Presentation,” introduces the viewer to longer conversations (that are not heard) between the artist and the chance acquaintances. We can assume, according to one of the captions, that the artist accosts them, saying, “My name is Anna Kutera. Here is my photo. I am a student of the Fine Arts Academy and just right now I am shooting a movie about how I am introducing myself to you.” After that she hands her portrait photo to everyone. Some of them laugh or smile, some have further questions, but all the interactions are absolutely friendly. Other études are entitled “What time is it?” and “Where is Anna Kutera’s street?” The latter one, the funniest, shows a group of passersby trying to help. The last episode is the most tautological one: it refers mostly to the medium itself. It is entitled “Goodbye!” and we see the artist herself in the similar frame as that of the photo. She smiles, laughs, saying something to the person behind the camera while saying goodbye by a gesture of nodding the head. After cutting, which gives the impression of some rehearsal, we see her now serious, just nodding and turning her back to the camera.

Through the simplest gestures and the category of a chance encounter, the artist asks here about the role of the artist in society and puts the accents not on the art piece itself, but rather on social interactions. Kutera was a member of the Polish group of Contextual artists who participated in the exhibition “Contextual Art” in 1976 in Lund with Jan Świdziński. She also represented the Polish Contextual movement in Toronto at the Center of Experimental Art and Communication, during the meeting and discussion with Joseph Kosuth in 1976.


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The Introduction – performance by Anna Kutera

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Date: 1975

Participants: Anna Kutera, Piotr Olszański, Lech Mrożek, Jerzy Olek, Kazimierz Helebrandt, Romuald Kutera (film documentation), Niels Lomholt (Denmark), and anonymous artists from Budapest, Prague, and Zagreb

Organizer: Festival of Students from Baltic Art Schools, “F-ART”

Location: Gdańsk

The performance was presented during the festival. Kutera sat behind a table. She provoked interactions between herself and the nine invited male members, whom she called by their names to take their places by her side. This performance is part of  cycle Stimulated Situations, and it was documented in a photo series and a black-and-white ten-minute 16 mm film (which were shown during the exhibition “Contextual Art” in 1976 in Lund, Sweden). The actions were presented to the viewers only by the mute gestures of Kutera herself or her partners (we always see a one-to-one relation), as well as by the accessories held by the partners. The pretext for this intercourse was the situation of creation portraits of Kutera and showing her through relations with people in different social and cultural roles. But in the images we see her every time in the same place, beside the table. The partners sat on her left. Every meeting lasted only around one minute in silence and action was introduced by Anna in these words: “I am happy to be together with a group who understands the meaning of being together in art and getting to know each other without words.” She describes it as a very difficult emotional situation of intimacy. All encounters seem to be similar, the changes are very subtle—which creates a large field for interpretation and calls the viewer’s attention to compare details and look for a significance, or even giving up when the most important—what happened in the immanency of the space and time in between the social actors—is no longer available to understand.


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Women’s Art 1980 – exhibition

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Date: November 1980

Participants: Izabella Gustowska, Anna Kutera, Natalia LL, Ewa Partum, Krystyna Piotrowska, Maria Pinińska-Bereś, and Teresa Tyszkiewicz

Organizers: Izabella Gustowska and Krystyna Piotrowska

Location: ON Gallery, Poznań

The first national exhibition of the practices of Polish women artists interested in negotiations of feminine subjectivity was organized by two artists who run the gallery associated with the Fine Arts Academy. Izabella Gustowska, when asked about the concept of the show, said she had been familiar with most of the artists from previous exhibitions at ON except for Ewa Partum, whom they invited due to her clear-cut artistic position, and Maria Pinińska-Bereś, whom, in turn, they wanted to honor as a pioneer of a certain kind of sensitivity. This was why the “L”-shaped gallery’s smaller room was devoted entirely to Pinińska-Bereś. The pink-quilted fluid rug spilling out of her Well of Pink ran across the floor of the larger room above, where the works of the younger artists were on display together with photographic works, films, and works on paper. The invited artists presented performances or live lectures (except for Krystyna Piotrowska, Teresa Tysziewicz probably made a comment to her movies) during the two-day symposium opened by speeches of the theorists Alicja Kępińska and Jerzy Ludwiński. What the different realizations had in common was, in my view, their focus on the issue of space and the representations of the subjectively understood feminine body.

“Although the exhibition had not been thought as a feminist demonstration, the title provoked questions about distinguishing the characteristic of art created by women artists—their peculiar features and goals. The organizers wanted to provoke such a discussion and posed questions that had never been asked in Poland before. […] I do not say that nothing like women’s art does exist, because art has no sex (is sexless),” wrote Grzegorz Dziamski. “But look at what women artists do and wonder if in the pieces presented by them there is something you will not find anywhere else—another sensibility, other imaginations, a different approach to the world.”[1]

Beside the Polish Film Chronicle that reported on Partum’s performance, the exhibition was not reviewed in the media and stayed forgotten for a long time, mentioned only in Dziamski’s articles on women’s art and in the catalogs of Presence III and ON Gallery. The thematic was continued by Gustowska in the “Presence” exhibition cycle in the 1980s and 1990s.

Detailed description of the exhibition

Document: Izabella Gustowska: WHY? (1998)


[1] Grzegorz Dziamski, “Drobne narracje,” in Drobne narracje. XV lat galerii ON (Poznań, 1994), 6–7.


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The Dialogue – video-performance by Anna Kutera

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Date: 1985

Participant: Anna Kutera

Location: Gallery Labyrinth 2, Lublin

No documentation remains of the first action performed in Osieki. The video-performance was repeated three times: at Gallery Labyrinth 2 in Lublin, Poland (1985), Philip Waters Gallery in Banff, Canada (1985), and during the “Polish Manifestation” exhibition in Drents Museum, Assen, the Netherlands (1986).

The title dialogue takes place between the artist in the gallery space and an image of herself prerecorded on video playing on a TV screen. The conversation concerns the situation in which the artist found herself: the relationship between herself and her image, and their relation to the audience and the gallery space (the actual one as well as the empty one in which the recorded performance took place). The final dialogue concerns a misunderstanding between the two Annas: the TV one whose space of action is clean and neutral and the live one whose space of action is always relational, always considered an encounter, never neutral. She suggests that her TV image consider her art in the illusionary freedom gap and even does not take responsibility for her actions because she is only an image.


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