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4 – 6 December 2014

The Tatra Conference is an international meeting of artists, curators, art historians, writers and anthropologists held in the mountain resort of Zakopane. Their works, discussions and presentations will be devoted to the avant-garde tradition of the locality, the artists once associated with the town, as well as its mythology and surrounding nature. Drawing on the history of the Zakopane’s artistic colony – a group of artists and writers for whom Zakopane of the late 19th century was the centre of intellectual debate and a source of inspiration, the Conference is conceived as an attempt at exploring and investigating the creative potential of the place.


The point of departure is the art of sculptor Władysław Hasior (1928-1999), his entire life very closely linked with Zakopane, who still remains one of the best known artists of post-war Poland. A charismatic author of monuments, assemblages, performances and set designs, though travelling abroad and drawing on his foreign experience, Hasior has always remained close to the material culture of the Tatra Mountains region, its customs and symbols. The recent renovation of the artist’s gallery and his archives have resulted in the reopening of research of his art and educational activities. Thus the symposium about the Tatra Mountains, Zakopane, and Hasior himself is an important component of the conference, with contributions presenting the town and its history from the viewpoint of art, literature, anthropology and politics, where Zakopane is more of an intellectual construct, an idyllic utopia, a product of the imagination. Continuing along these lines, one of the panels of the symposium is focused on Hasior’s artistic practice seen through the lens of local traditions and customs, but also concentrating on the figure of the artist himself who had very consciously created his public image. Other presentations treat the sculptor’s work in a broader artistic context, with questions about the exceptional nature of his art and its affiliations with international tendencies, as well as his own entanglement in history and politics. By gathering specialists from different disciplines, the event is seen not so much as an academic revision of Hasior’s practice but an impulse triggering a critical approach to his rather complex oeuvre.

The conference assumes a broad field of references and tropes of interpretation of Hasior’s art. An artistic programme lies at its core, with participation of international artists whose works will be presented in a number of locations, mainly at the exhibition titled “Modest Muses” which focuses on ordinary objects transformed into extraordinary works of art. The presentation is about the insightful and vigilant observation of quotidian reality. Historical and contemporary works blur the boundaries between the common and the special. They question the rationalistic division of the world into the animate and inanimate, displaying it via the prism of intuition and imagination. The entire mood of the exhibition is determined by its specific location – the mysterious nature, fantastic mythology of the place and surrealist motifs present in the practice of the many artists who had worked there. There is also an annex to the show – a projection of slides selected from Hasior’s Photography Notepad, documenting the vernacular culture of Zakopane and the region. In addition to the show, artist Maria Loboda has created a piece locating it in the high mountain shelter at the Valley of the Five Ponds (Dolina Pięciu Stawów). The conference also includes a film programme, Echoes from the Highlands inspired by the nature of the Tatras and the local rituals, as well as a performance by Agnieszka Brzeżańska, and a concert of the Pathman band made up of musicians who had collaborated with Hasior in the past.

Symposium participants: Katarzyna Chrudzimska-Uhera, David Crowley, Julita Dembowska, Anna Dezeuze, Jan Gondowicz, Łukasz Gorczyca, Dorota Jarecka, Ewa Klekot, Błażej Pindor, Slavs and Tatars, Ewa Tatar, Sarah Wilson, Anna Żakiewicz
Artistic programme:
Exhibition “Modest Muses”
The Tatra Museum, Gallery of 20th c. Art at Villa Oksza (5 December 2014 – 11 January 2015, preview on 4 December)
Artists: Caroline Achaintre, Geta Brătescu, Ewa Ciepielewska, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, Habima Fuchs, Walon Green, Bĕla Kolařova, Mark Leckey, Basim Magdy, Charlotte Moth, Paulina Ołowska, Erna Rosenstein
  Film programme:
Echoes from the Highlands: Ben Rivers, Harry Smith, Cem Raios T'Abram collective (curator: Margarida Mendes, 5 December 2014, 20.00, Sokół Cinema)
Pathman i Kinior (5 December 2014, 22.00, Dworzec Tatrzański)
Maria Loboda, Day for Night at the shelter in the Valley of the Five Ponds (Dolina Pięciu Stawów)
Entry to all the events is free of charge, however the number of places is limited therefore we kindly request confirmation of participation by 20 November by email to: tatraconference@gmail.com
For more information and programme, please go to: www.openartprojects.org, www.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl
The artistic programme is organized by Open Art Projects and the Tatra Museum in Zakopane
The symposium is organised by the the Tatra Museum in Zakopane and
Volans Association
Project initiator: Kola Śliwińska
Curator: Kasia Redzisz
Artistic programme coordination: Magda Materna with assistance of Emma Knaflewska
Symposium coordination: Kola Śliwińska, Ewa Ciepielewska
Coordination on behalf of the Tatra Museum: Julita Dembowska
The symposium is possible thanks to the funding by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, as well as the City of Zakopane in partnership with the Zakopane Promotion Office
The artistic programme has been financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Małopolskie Voivoideship and the City of Zakopane in partnership with the Zakopane Promotion Office
Partners in the organisation of the event: Schronisko Górskie PTTK w Dolinie Pięciu Stawów Polskich (Mountain Shelter in the Valley of the Five Ponds), Sokół Cinema, Dworzec Tatrzański  
Project supported by Institutes of Polish Culture in London, Stockholm and Paris
Additional support: Grand Hotel Stamary, COS Olympic Preparation Centre in Zakopane, Skalny Hotel, Mała Szwajcaria Restaurant, Karpla Konsulting, Osman Djajadisastra, Future Tech Marcin Słodyczka, Watra Maciej Stasiński
Honorary patronage: Janusz Majcher – Mayor of the City of Zakopane
Partners of Open Art Projects: Polpharma, The Starak Family Foundation, Spectra Art Space, European Compensation Center

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Translated & edited by: Joanna Holzman, Adrian Smith, Anna Wende-Surmiak