The Opening Response: Rafał Pierzyński

The Opening Response titles a special series of interviews with artists, curators, writers, composers, mediators, and space-makers around the world. Dialoguing within and around the thematics which have rapidly emerged as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offer within this frame a differentiated, honest, and beautiful bid at understanding. Weekly, distinct doors are opened into the lives of the contributors; into their experiences dawning on pleasure, productivity, metaphysics, and paradigmatic shifts. Hopefully, these conversations can act as way-posts and lead to furthered empathy, unison, and co-creation. The Opening Response meets the need for weaving the autonomy of a web of conscious communications in times of extreme perplexity.

Rafał Pierzyński (1991, Poland), makes queer performances and collages. He completed Stage Dance, Movement Studies and Performance at IDA, A.B.P.U. Linz with the MA research project titled Embodied Communication – attending to the modes of touch. Touching with its physical, social, feminist and queer aspects became the context for his broad explorations and center of his work. In the times of global confinement and collapse, Rafał Pierzynski’s work takes a whole new dimension. Based in Zürich, the performer and collage artist explores touching as a primordial modality of being in the world, a vector that transcends the separation between the body and the mind. It is essential to love, care, and the deconstruction of the naturality of our representations of our bodies. For Pierzyński, touching is even fundamental to our survival.~ La Fête Du Slip 2020.


Josseline Black – Reflecting on this recent period of forced isolation, how are you articulating your response in a public discourse? What is your role in this larger conversation?

Rafał Pierzyński – I stay attentive. I try to listen as a way of non-doing or undoing or creating space for the collective to speak. I share my experience and I am curious to get to know how it is for others. To make note of my reflections after a few weeks in the crisis I wrote a short text and a made a video performance which will be evolving into a bigger work over next year.

JB – Has your artistic practice changed through isolation?

RP – It’s still changing as the situation changes. Unfortunately, I thought we were in the crisis before the pandemic happened, and my works anticipated it in a weird way, but I am very affected by the moment nevertheless.

JB – How has your practical capacity to produce work been affected by the pandemic?

RP – First, it was put to a sudden halt but it all turned out quite ok. I don’t have a legal artist status so I couldn’t claim any support, but luckily, I got paid for my cancelled performances and I got all I need to live at the moment.

JB – What is your approach to collaboration at the moment?

RP – I am in the state of being curious, but I stay grounded at the moment. I am definitely into the local dynamics because of the travel restriction; but, the remote, the online, and transitional suddenly became more embodies and corpo-virtual to me.

JB – How would you define the present moment, metaphysically/literally/symbolically?

RP – Touching in its no touch. I feel the collective, global awareness of the other is rising. Spaces between us are dense. We are learning we are connected That in fact, we are one organism. The struggle is real but queer moments bring the potential for revolution.

JB – Do you see the potential for renewed support for cultural production in spite of macro and micro-economies which are currently rapidly restructuring?

RP – In some way, it is already happening. You can see a quick reaction, solidarity, and creativity in finding new formats and ways to continue creative processes and provide space for conversation and exchange. I am also very lucky and privileged living in Switzerland at the moment. I am afraid, though, that in the case of a second wave, the possibilities in terms of money and live performances will be even more scarce everywhere.

JB – E.M Cioran writes: “in major perplexities, try to live as history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity”, how do you respond to this proposal?

RP – I guess we are in the moment to be serene with ourselves, each other and the planet. There are enough resources to confront the monsters of reality but the question for me is: are we willing to trust and share?

JB – How is this time influencing your perception of alterity in general?

RP – Reality as we know it is over. It collapsed and we are experiencing the transition to another one. In the process of understanding the other as well as experiencing alterity within, I am convinced one more time about the power coming from being in touch: embodied in all diversities that we are. This in light of the pandemic, but also, or especially in relation to huge mobilisation and protest and fighting racism and the #blacklivesmatter movement. Also, affected by the time of presidential elections in my home country, Poland, nationalistic odds and the narrative against LBGTQ+ people.

JB – How is your utilization of technology and virtuality evolving the paradigm within which you produce work?

RP – It was happening for me before the pandemic already. I am checking that out now more than ever, still without losing the focus on ‘touching’. There is definitely ever more weight on redefining notions of nature, technology, real, virtual, ecological and political in my research in the light o the present events. I am not into lifestream and spending all my time in front of a camera or a screen though.

JB – What is your position on the relationship between catastrophe and solidarity?

RP – I know we have all it takes to live together. In a catastrophe, we see we always needed each other and do not hesitate, or at least hesitate less to take necessary actions. we are able to generate enormous power through care. I think we are learning from the past and from the present how to care and practice solidarity to rule out catastrophe. Many impossible things were proven possible in the current crisis.

JB – What is your utopia now?

RP – Embodied communication. Exercising our bodily potential to sense and move our perception to higher dimensions of hyperobjects. Living in complex symbiosis, in a synesthetic world with each other.

Josseline Black is a contemporary curator, writer, and researcher. She holds an M.A. in time-based media from the Kunst Universität Linz and a B.A. in Anthropology (specialization Cotsen Institute of Archaeology) from the University of California Los Angeles. She operated for five years as in-house curator of the international artistic residency program at the Atelierhaus Salzamt (Austria) wherein she had the privilege of working closely with a number of brilliant artists. Included in her duties within the institution she allocated and directed the Salzamt hosting of the E.U. CreArt mobility for artists program. As a writer, she has reviewed exhibitions and co-edited texts for Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Portugal, Madre Museum Naples, the Museums Quartier Vienna, MUMOK, Guimarães Gallery, Gallery Michaela Stock. She is regular theoretical contributor to the Contemporary Art Magazine Droste Effect. In addition, she has published with Interartive Malta, OnMaps Tirana, Albania, and L.A.C.E (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). In tandem to her curatorial practice and writing, she has for the past decade used choreography as a research tool inquiring into the ontology of the performing body with a focus on embodied cartographies of public memory and space. She has held research residencies at the East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, the University of Arts Tirana Albania, and the Upper Austrian Architectural Forum. It is her privilege to continue developing her approach to curatorship which derives from an anthropological reading of art production and an ethnological dialectic in working with cultural content generated by art makers. Currently, she is developing the methodology which supports the foundation of a performance-based trans-disciplinary platform for a spectral critique on art production.

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