ROSE SELAVY / Vienna Art Week 2014

November 17 - 23, 2014 ​

Artist: Ryszard Wasko
Curator: Constanze Kleiner

Fot the first time since 25 years the Berlin based artist Ryszard Wasko (born in Lodz, Poland) will be presented in Vienna again. 
At the end of the 70s he was collaborating also with Vienna artists, among them, Kurt Kren and Valie Export, who even visited his hometown Lodz in around 1977 and met there the well known avant-garde-group “Workshop”, from which Wasko was a member.
During Vienna Art Week in a spontaneous collaboration with the Vienna based artist and owner of the legend “The Breakfast Club”, Werner Jakits, a video from Ryszard Wasko’s performance from 1997 will be shown as a screening at “The Breakfast Café” at the art-district “Schleifmühlgasse” in Vienna.

The video Rose Selavy (1997) is a part of the film “Small Rose Garden”, directed by Maria Wasko in 1997. The film refers to two famous performances by Marcel Duchamp: the female character Rose Selavy and his last public appearance at the museum in Pasadena in 1963. Ryszard Wasko shows off his acting skills while sitting at a table set in water on the shore of a lake. He is playing a game of chess with a naked woman. Every now and then, he gracefully glances at the camera. He plays with the situation, his own identity and references to the history of art. His performance does not remain in one dimension. At the same time, it raises questions about borrowings and quotes in contemporary art. An ironic self-distance is further emphasized by attributes characteristic of fluxus frequently appearing in Wasko’s works from the ‘90s.

The artist Ryszard Wasko is a legendary figure in the Polish art world. The organizer of some of the most important art events to take place behind the Iron Curtain, his role as an artist is inseparable from his role as a curator. Ryszard Wasko: Genesis, a major retrospective of his work, was shown in August 2013 at TRAFO, the new center for contemporary art in Szczecin, Poland. This show, coming more than thirty years since his last international exhibition, in 1981 at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, has resulted in the publication CHOICE, which offers a selection of Wasko’s major works from the early 1970s until today. 

Ryszard Wasko has long since entered the annals of art history. His event series “Construction in Process” was a major vehicle for bringing important international artists to Poland over a period of thirty years, and he later became well known as an international curator. In the early 1990s he was a program director at PS1 and at the Institute for Contemporary Art, both in New York.

Today Wasko’s works are housed in a number of museum collections, including the Berlinische Galerie, the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, the Cinemathek in Brussels, the Bauhaus Museum in Dessau, the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, the William Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen, the Arts Council in London, and the Lenbachhaus in Munich. He was invited to many museum exhibitions around the world and took part in art-events, among others: documenta in Kassel,  Hayward Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin; The New Museum, New York; Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz; Tate Modern Gallery, London; MoMA, New York; Venice Biennale; Sydney Biennale; Sao Paolo Biennale; Biennale de Paris; Photo Carousel, Louvre, Paris; Pratt Gallery, New York and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Ryszard Wasko is widely perceived as a conceptual artist. When asked about this, however, he gives a fascinating response: 

“I always had the feeling that whatever I was doing was about making a painting. Maybe it was because of the fact that I started my art career with drawings and paintings and that’s where I found my pleasure, my enthusiasm. Studying at the film school in Lodz, I became excited by photography and other media, which opened me up to new possibilities of perceiving the world in new ways. Later on, I started to call a certain category of my work “methaphorical conceptualism.” If you look up what the word “methaphor” means in poetry, you will see that it is a kind of clash of two different signs, a clash that creates new meaning. In this light consider my pieces Secret Message or Howl or 3rd of May—works in which I put together two different images—signs—that are quite removed from each other in terms of time (past and present). The result is up to the viewer’s interpretation. I add no commentary. Now that I have ended my “curatorial” activities for once and for all, I have decided to get back to my roots.”

Ryszard Wasko lives and works in Berlin. 

The Breakfast Club
Schleifmühlgasse 12-14
A - 1040 Vienna