Eyes Looking For a Head to Inhabit

Openning: September 30th
State Archive in Lodz, Wolności 1 Sq.
ms², Ogrodowa 19
ms1, Więckowskiego 36

The project Eyes Looking For a Head to Inhabit is related to a historical event: the inauguration of the International Collection of Modern Art of the “a.r.” group at the Municipal Museum of History and Art in Łódź on the 15th February 1931. The basis of this, then locally underestimated initiative, were the ideas of international avant-garde developed by Władysław Strzemiński and Katarzyna Kobro and their fight for social recognition of new art. As a result, 80 years ago a new institution was established – the present-day Muzeum Sztuki in Łodź, the first museum of modern art in Europe that still exists.

The title Eyes Looking For a Head to Inhabit is a metaphor referring to taking over physical and mental spaces by the avant-garde. It speaks of outlining new directions of thinking, about attempts of rooting them in society. It evokes the disagreement with the status quo and the sense of mission to create „new art”. Celebrating the eightieth anniversary of the collection’s inauguration we attempt to enter a dialogue with the selected avant-garde traditions by means of contemporary art. According to the demands of those avant-garde traditions, art should be a laboratory where artists construct prototypes of new social devices, solutions to build a better-functioning and progressive world. The exhibition, focused around selected moments of “intensity”, presents ways in which avant-garde ideas were transformed, transgressed or radically questioned.

Eyes Looking For a Head to Inhabit consists of three exhibitions in separate buildings which used to house or house Muzeum Sztuki: the old City Hall at Wolności Square (the current seat of the State Archive) as well as ms1 and ms² – the current seats of the Museum. Selecting these venues is determined by the story of moving the International Collection of Modern Art of the “a.r.” group that was a founding factor for the Museum.

The exhibition at ms² is focused on the avant-garde belief in progress and its desire for control nature to gain “victory over the sun”. Negotiations between science, technology, politics and economy were supposed to help at organising collective life in a new world. In universalistic spaces designed in modernity, contemporary artists point to conflicts, gender and race differences, linguistic and historical conditioning. They look for new non-oppressive forms of community and complex relationships with nature that could go beyond the anthropocentric perspective.

At the State Archive, where the „a. r.“ group first presented their collection to the Łódź audiences, the current function of the building – working on the city’s memory – is intertwined with the history of the avant-garde thus provoking the reflection on existential uprooting. Soon after the collection was opened for public little indicated that it would become one of the most important tools of avant-garde institutionalisation in the future. Abstract art – the core of the collection – was then perceived as an expression of an alien, Bolshevik culture. It was not presented in Polish museums. For the „a.r.“ group members – acting on their own initiative and cooperating with an international community of artists – establishing an avant-garde institution in Łódź entailed alienation and a struggle to overcome it. Contemporary works presented at the Archive exhibition speak of a sense of being lost and exteritorialisation, of migrating among identities.

The projects at the library and ms cafe refer to the unfulfilled potential of the museum as a place that is not keeping up with contemporary cultural production. Simultaneously, they offer a chance to go beyond institutional limitations, provide encouragement for discussion containing echoes that accompanied the birth of the “a.r.“ group’s collection. From economy of gift – a gesture founding the collection and thus, the museum itself – towards undermining individual authorship; from individuality towards the creation of active communities; from contemplation towards outlining brave and radical models of participation.

On the 80th anniversary of presenting the International Collection of Modern Art of the “a.r.” group in Lodz we want these questions and the aforementioned possibilities to become the core of the work of the museum today. We want the museum to be able to make an attempt at imagining a different dimension of its own activities here and now. We think over, what else is possible and if the museum can function beyond the established logic, e.g. the logic of a state institution or the logic of cultural capital.

Artist participating in the exhibition: Nevin Aladağ, Victor Alimpiev, Francisco Infante-Arana, Merce Cunningham / John Cage, Valdis Celms, Anetta Mona Chişa / Lucia Tkáčová, Velimir Khlebnikov / Aleksei Kruchonykh/ Kasimir Malevitsch / Mikhail Matyushin, Le Corbusier / Edgar Varese / Iannis Xenakis, Andrzej Czarnacki, Josef Dabernig, Valie Export, Wojciech Fangor, Stano Filko, Vadim Fiškin, Leszek Golec / Tatiana Czekalska, Barbara Hammer, Haus-Rucker-Co, Rebecca Horn, Nikita Kadan, Frederick Kiesler, Katarzyna Kobro, Julius Koller, Paweł Kowzan, Yuri Leiderman, El Lissitzky, Artur Malewski, Daniel Malone, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gustav Metzger, László Moholy-Nagy, Carsten Nicolai, Roman Ondak, Ruth Oppenheim, Anna Orlikowska, Gabriel Orozco, Walter Pichler, Agnieszka Piksa, Klaus Pinter, Adrian Piper, Jerzy Rosołowicz, Jadwiga Sawicka, Łukasz Skąpski, Władysław Strzemiński, Marijke van Warmerdam, Monika Zawadzki.

Curators: Aleksandra Jach, Katarzyna Słoboda, Joanna Sokołowska, Magdalena Ziółkowska
Exhibition layout: Krzysztof Skoczylas

Catalogue for the exhibition

Exhibitions opening hours:

ms², Ogrodowa 19
tuesday: 10.00 am. – 6.00 p.m.
wednesday – sunday: 11.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m.

State Archive, Wolności 1 Sq.
monday, wednesday - friday: 9.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.
tuesday: 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.

ms1, Więckowskiego 36
Library (entrance from the yard)
(Paweł Kowzan's project What happened to my head? Thoughts make noise)
tuesday, wednesday, friday: 11.00 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.
thursday: 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

ms cafe
monday - thursday: 9.00 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
friday 9.00 a.m. – until the last client leaves
saturday: 12.00 p.m. – until the last client leaves
sunday: 12.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.

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