Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw: FREELANCER


04.06 – 04.08.2013

Participating artists: Roman Dziadkiewicz, Rafał Jakubowicz, Paweł Jarodzki, Alicja Karska & Alesandra Went, Kamil Kuskowski, Jerzy Kosałka, Zbigniew Libera, Aleksandra Polisiewicz, Anna Senkara & Cezary Koczwarski, Zorka Wollny & Artur Zagajewski, Julita Wójcik

A freelancer by definition is a person with a non-specific work time or commitment to a particular employer, in other words a person who retains a sense of freedom by participating in the labour market on different terms. “Free” from weariness and stagnation of full-time employment and “free to” choose the nature of the work; freelancing is usually associated with self- employment and creative industries. By such, artists are most definitely freelancers, even though they are depend on supply and demand of the art market and therefore their situation is not so different from other employments. However, the characteristic above that mainly focuses on the aspect of freedom, often turns out to be merely an illusion. Freedom from everything is a negative freedom. Today, freedom does not mean using ones civic rights to the fullest, on contrary, it is a freedom of collapse and defeat, experienced by many drifting towards an uncertain and unpredictable future.

The term “freelancer” that was first used by Walter Scott in the Romantic era to define a mercenary warrior, was quickly adapted to other areas and trades. Scott’s definition of freelancer evokes connotations true to this day: struggle and independence (understood rather as a lack of loyalty) that often become a bargaining chip in the labour market game. However, this term has yet another reference – hunting. What attracted the Romantics to this activity was its temporal suspension of ethics, interpreted by many as freedom. For culture that was the source of suffering, nature became an alternative. In it, the Romantics sought the wild life energy, unfettered by rational and ethical law. Therefore, the Romantic “freelancer”, more accurately, should be called a “free hunter”.

The exhibition primarily explores the paradigm shift of “being an artist”. During the past 20 years, artists have been forced to redefine their place on the map of social roles and economical interdependences. A stark example of this transformation that took on quite a radical form was the artists' strike in May 2012, initiated by the Civic Forum for Contemporary Art. This topic constructed a bracket for this exhibition that was largely inspired by the libretto of the first national German opera by Carl Maria von Weber's entitles Freelancer (premiered in 1821).

The exhibition should provoke critical questions about the actual condition of a freelancer and strip it of all romantic illusions. It should also examine the negative aspects of freedom. How can one, today, express complete freedom “from”: relationships, loyalty, social cohesion and social consensus?

Elements of the exhibition are activities by Roman Dziadkiewicz and a performance by Zorka Wollny & Artur Zagajewski.

curator Ewa Toniak
cooperation on the part of Zachęta Magdalena Komornicka
cooperation Jarosław Wójtowicz
exhibition design Małgorzata Szczęśniak
co-designer of the exhibition Łukasz Kwietniewski

partners of the gallery: Lidex, White and Case
sponsors of the opening ceremony: DeLonghi, Kenwood, Freixenet
media patronage: Polskie Radio, The Warsaw Voice, Stolica,

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