Introduction to “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw

Ilya Kabakov. “Czereja” issue 4, 1933. Scanned magazine cover. Image courtesy The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.

Ilya Kabakov. “Czereja” issue 4, 1933. Scanned magazine cover. Image courtesy The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.

The introductory text presents “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” a document translated into English from Polish and published here. The original document was first published in Czereja, a magazine created by the students of Kowalnia, a studio for diploma art students run by Grzegorz Kowalski in the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. “Common Space” compiles the students’ accounts of a performative group activity entitled Pierożek drewniany, zimnym mięsem nadziewany (translated as Wooden Dumpling, Filled with Cold Meat) from the 1992–93 academic year. The introduction analyzes “Common Space” as a part of the very creative process within the Wooden Dumpling activity and describes its meaning within the socio-political contexts of post-1989 Poland. It explains the role of Kowalnia’s practices as a unique pedagogical experiment anomalous within the fairly traditional art education systems of Central and Eastern Europe of the time. The introduction argues that the document is not only relevant for our understanding of Polish art in the 1990s, but also provokes broader questions about the feasibility and efficacy of socially engaged art practices as well as the communicative strategies employed within them.

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