Wojciech Kosma

LEAP

DSC_7524_CMYK.jpg

Wojciech Kosma, The—family Part 1: Pieta, 2013, Performance Documentation, Performed von Ingrid Sattes und Brian Doose

Wojciech Kosma, The—family Part 1: Pieta, 2013, performance documentation, Performed by Ingrid Sattes and Brian Doose

It’s not often that we get to spy on each other’s private relationships. Reading a Facebook wall is no substitute for watching a couple alone in bed. Is it even possible for intimacy to be glimpsed from the outside – or does it become something else just by virtue of being watched? If we could witness the inner workings of others’ relationships, how would it change the way we think about our own? Over the past two years, the artist Wojciech Kosma has established a framework for performance art that maximizes the act of self-exposure, asking whether it is precisely through the act of public performance that the most ‘authentic’ relationships can develop.

Kosma is a Polish artist based in Berlin. His artistic history is varied – he has a background in computer science and music composition – but since around 2011, he’s become devoted to an increasingly unified pursuit, dubbed The—family, in which he creates performances using live actors. To the naked eye, each performance looks like a pair of close friends or lovers have landed in a room without instructions and been left to their own devices. Kosma’s influence is remote, his role distilled to the creator of conditions within which action can develop – a kind of John Cassavetes without a camera.

The most recent iteration of The—family series of performances, Pieta, occurred in January 2013 at LEAP overlooking Alexanderplatz in Berlin. For two consecutive nights, viewers were given a window into the relationship between Brian Doose, a 24-year-old American and Ingrid Sattes, a 51-year-old German. Sattes and Doose circled each other on a mat in the middle of the room: joking, fighting, fondling, singing, arguing and kissing.

Seemingly without self-censorship, Sattes gave a tearful account of a recent meeting with her ex-Nazi father, confessed age anxiety and body issues and sought reassurance and comfort from her partner – who at varying moments either gave or withheld affection. As power dynamics emerge between various actors in Kosma’s pieces, they become archetypes for relationship typologies we’ve all experienced in some form or another. Perhaps one falls into preconditioned patterns when on stage. Or perhaps we are all performing received notions of intimacy even when alone together.

Kosma orchestrates The—family relationships within a prescribed space. The people he selects rehearse regularly and rigorously in a defined area where he is always present but which is generally open to visitors. During this process the performers’ relationships begin to leak out into non-performance time; they meet the rest of the group and go out together – re-situating their relationships into the ‘regular’ arena of social performance. The difference is that those of us who have seen them perform have seen them at their most vulnerable moments – we know them, obliquely, in the way we are only used to knowing a best friend or a lover.

Far beyond the range of ‘performance as performance’, Kosma’s work elucidates the permeable membranes of artistic production and social space. Over time he is establishing a form of community between both realms. The—family is not a direct product of the art world but an outlet from its sphere within the scope of its influence.

Issue 9

First published in Issue 9

Apr - May 2013

Most Read

From a tribute to Straub/Huillet to Valerie Massadian’s portrait of teenage motherhood, the turn to real situations and...
Japan’s growing number of art festivals tread a precarious path between state-sponsored leisure-culture and soft-power...
Fifty years after the term was coined, a show in Samos reflects on ‘the unlikely liaison between love and politics’
In the Rocky Mountains resort town, boutique facades hide the remnants of a surprising counterculture 
Pussy Riot members detained; Pope.L launches ‘Flint Water Project’; Ghetto Biennale participating artists announced
Arsenale and Giardini, Venice, Italy
SoundCloud has been invaluable to the new music community for both documentation and discovery – now the audio-...
The extraordinary life of the late, great, gallerist and collector Alexander Iolas
Various venues, New York, USA
At a time of instantaneous information and fetishized immersivity, artists are evoking scent as an alchemical, bodily...
With her current show at Gasworks, London, the Kuwaiti artist shares some influential images
20 years after Hong Kong’s handover to China, a new generation of artists dive into the city-state’s unknown futures...
‘Klassensprachen’ engaged artists, writers and publishers in soul-searching around the interlinking of class, language...
In lieu of institutional support, artists are working together to achieve a remarkable self-sufficiency
From being citizens to lovers, the most important things in life can’t be professionalized. Is it time for some...
From an inflatable anti-capitalist dragon to the shattered shadow of Robert Burns: highlights from this year’s...
The City of London’s annual sculpture park reveals the complex interplay between global corporations, urban space and ‘...
Romare Bearden, Pittsburgh Memory, 1964, mixed media collage and graphite on board, 22 x 30 cm. Courtesy: © Romare Bearden Foundation / DACS, London / VAGA, New York 2017
Successfully layering a broader socio-historical narrative onto a period of radical non-conformity, this is an...
Trump’s trashing of the Paris Climate Accord makes it clear: we can't be satisfied with art about the political, art...
With a strong surrealist strain, and including a welcome number of female artists, highlights from the 48th edition of...

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2017

frieze magazine

May 2017

frieze magazine

June – August 2017