27.3 — 6.6.2004
Zbigniew Libera – Positives
artist(s): Zbigniew Libera
curator(s): Enrico Lunghi, Christine Walentiny
Between March 27th and June 6th 2004, Casino Luxembourg is presenting eight photographs from the series Positives by Zbigniew Libera (born 1959 in Pabianice in Poland; lives and works in Warsaw). The pictures, which are black-and-white as well as colour prints, represent positive re-interpretations of icons from twentieth-century public life. Libera does not regard the creative process underlying his works as concluded until they have been published in the print media. This is why Positives are in fact copies of press-published originals. This particular way of working permits the artist to pursue a corrosive analysis of the power exercised by images and the media. Among other works, Casino Luxembourg will be showing Bush Dream (2003), Defeat on Cross-Country Race (2003), and Nepal (2003).
Libera's roots are to be found in the hotbed of the "unofficial" polish art scene of the eighties. Works from this decade include Intimate Rites (1984), How to train the girls (1986), and Mystical Perseverance (1984). Since the nineties, Libera has appropriated the language of Pop Art. Using the serial production of objects in particular, each one of his works is intended to minutely resemble its original. In his series Correcting Devices (1994-2000), produced via this method, he ironically exposes the public fears that characterise our capitalist democracy and its icons, which have literally swamped Poland since the end of socialism.
Lego systems (1996) consists of a conglomerate of seven empty boxes, on which various scenes from concentration camps are represented using only the famous construction toy pieces. There are no specific references to World War Two, and obviously the same plastic pieces could have been assembled to form something completely different. The circumstance that nearly all the pieces come from the standard Lego assortment suggests that the constituting elements of such atrocities are present and readily available in our society; that history cannot easily be kept from repeating itself. It only depends on the imagination of the person who assembles the elements. Libera wishes to demonstrate « the potential danger that an innocent child's play becomes perverted into a construction of evil ». The Jewish Museum in New York acquired this work in 1997.
Since the early nineties, Libera has been widely exhibited in Europe and the United States: 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2000 at the Ujadzdowski-Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw; in Aperto '93 (Venice Biennale); 1995 at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; in São Paulo '96; 2000 at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and at Berlin's Hamburg Bahnhof; 2001 at the Bunkier Sztuhi in Krakow; finally, in 2002 he was invited to the Jewish Museum, New York, in order to participate in the exhibition Mirroring Evil : Nazi imagery/recent art. The series Positives is now being shown outside Poland for the first time, after an initial run at the Atlas Sztuki Gallery in Lodz.
Zbigniew Libera, The Bikers, The Workers
Zbigniew Libera, Defeat on Cross-Country Race, Bush Dream