daniel kotowski

Socially Appropriate, Statistically Average, Scientifically Healthy, Personally Desired…

curatorial project (12/06–22/08/2021)
artists: Stanisław Dróżdż, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Izabella Gustowska, Marianne Heske, Marek Sapetto, Zbigniew Warpechowski , Anna Witkowska and Artur Żmijewski (as part of the exhibition’s accompanying programme)
curator: Daniel Kotowski
collaboration: Maria Świerżewska, Monika Zaleszczuk
production: Anna Muszyńska, Marek Janczewski and team
venue: Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

The latest show in the “Living Storages” series came about as the result of a search of the Zachęta collection for works depicting reactions to the experience of social pressure. The selection of works shows difficulties posed by a system in which the model of the “statistical human” is in force, also drawing attention to the problem of biopower, the mechanisms of power over the body, people, or oneself.
The title of the show is a subversive reference to the privileged position of a person in society. The fulfilment of expectations concerning behaviour or appearance allows us to live in accordance with norms, and the model of a “normal person” represents what is universal. Thus, a person is expected to be normal, feel formally, see normally, and hear normally. This standard model impacts both the formation of the body and the way of life. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson characterises this normal as “the measure of the good, true, and healthy, [which] also determines the status and value of people in the modern world” (Staring: How We Look, 2009).
Anyone who wants to be a member of society must conform to the norm. They must be socially appropriate, statistically average, scientifically healthy, and personally desired. Thus, they strive to achieve a state of normality. They do this by working on themselves and controlling their reflexes in everyday behaviour, conduct and habits. In this way, they become part of the power mechanism that regulates social life.

photo credit Piotr Kruszak