Lecture on inaction
performance, board, GoPro
Daniel Kotowski’s performance is a study in social inaction. Formally, it refers to Joseph Beuys’ performance “Information Action” shown in 1972 at the Tate Gallery in London. Originally, Joseph Beuys’ aim was to make the audience realise the presence of innate human creative capacity and power to shape reality, whereas Daniel Kotowski’s performative lecture analyses new sources of passive behaviours in social situations. The artist uses traditional aids known to the western educational system – a board and chalk – and their contemporary digital equivalents – a screen and a camera. He combines forms of populist and training techniques. In this way, he demonstrates the most widespread modern-day mechanisms of developing attitudes, imposing judgements and patterns of reacting to situations. Thus, the artist indirectly reflects on the reasons for social inaction: the complexity of reality, excess of competing views, problems with overcoming habits and going beyond privileged positions, and finally – a sense of helplessness and loss in the overstimulated information society. As a deaf person, incapable of producing flawless speech, the artist struggles with the form of a lecture, thus exposing the dominance and persuasive power of this mode of communication in public space, and consequently – inequalities resulting from this dominance.
text by the curator: Anna Mituś
The record of a performative lecture by Daniel Kotowski also stays in mind. The Deaf artist loosely refers to the “Information Action” that Joseph Beuys conducted in 1972 at the Tate Gallery. However, a significant reversal takes place here. The German art shaman explained to the audience that they are all artists and, as creative beings, they are capable of shaping and transforming reality. Meanwhile, Kotowski’s speech is devoted to the phenomenon of social passivity, the feeling of lack of agency, and being lost in the face of the cognitive crisis brought about by the information age. As a Deaf person, the artist is unable to articulate his speech in a way that hearing people consider the norm. His discourse is sometimes illegible, it may seem grotesque, and even unpleasant to the ear – because those who are within the norm instinctively turn away from those who go beyond it. We subconsciously expect that the person who is Deaf will also remain silent. Meanwhile, Kotowski takes the floor, which demands being heard not only because he belongs to the Other, but also because he talks about why we put so much effort into not hearing him.
text by Stach Szabłowski for Dwutygodnik journal
Project realised as part of the Masters’ Studio: Joanna Rajkowska
video frame (1)
photo credit Alicja Kielan (2-3)