Artur Żmijewski


After studying sculpture under Grzegorz Kowalski during the 1990s—a class that also produced artists such as Paweł Althamer and Katarzyna Kozyra— Artur Żmijewski subsequently turned to the media of film, video, and photography. His controversial oeuvre first gained international attention with the photo and video work Eye for an Eye (1998), in which he staged men with amputated limbs together with healthy men and had the healthy men lend their arms and legs to their injured counterparts. The work complex stands for Żmijewski’s engagement with social problems. Other recurrent themes include the reception of historical events and more recent political developments, for example, the establishment of extreme right wing forces in Poland or the suppression of Nazi history within European consciousness. Dieter, Patricia, and Ursula, the video works coproduced by Neuer Berliner Kunstverein with the artist, who represented Poland at the 51st Venice Biennale and was a participant of Documenta 12, are part of the ten-part work series Selected Works, where the artist used his camera to observe people in Berlin, Poland, Italy, and Mexico carrying out lowly routine tasks—usually poorly paid: factory workers, cleaning ladies, supermarket cashiers, snack bar staff, and construction workers. For the project, the artist filmed his performers for a 24 hour period in their everyday situations and during their work, from waking up in the morning to going to bed. Using the film material, Żmijewski extracted a 15-minute portrait of each individual, inserting the actual time that passes into a fragmented, non-chronological narrative structure. The artist presents these images without commentary in a constant loop, in which the end of an action anticipates the beginning. Here too, the artist directs his attention towards those usually rejected by the hegemonic discourse as “other,” and whose marginalized work usually takes place in concealment, far from all social recognition.

  • Dieter   (n.b.k. Koproduktion)
  • Patricia   (n.b.k. Koproduktion)
  • Ursula   (n.b.k. Koproduktion)