Baumgart, Anna.

*1966 in Wroclaw/Breslau, PL

1994 graduated from the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts
1995 Gdańsk City Mayor’s Award for the Most Interesting Debut


2008 The Hypothesis of the Stolen Image - ZAK BRANICKA, Berlin

Fresh Cherries

Date: 2010
Length: 18:00 min.
Format:  16:9
Specification: Coulour, Sound


Dokumentarische Filmausschnitte, authentische und rekonstruierte Interviews sowie fiktionale Inszenierungen bilden das Material von Anna Baumgarts Videoarbeit, in der sie die Tabuisierung von Opfern des Zweiten Weltkrieges thematisiert. Die Künstlerin hat festgestellt, dass vor allem Frauen und darunter besonders denjenigen, die von Soldaten beider Seiten zu sexuellen Diensten gezwungen oder missbraucht wurden, das Recht verweigert wurde, Teil der offiziellen Kriegsschreibung zu sein. Sie erbittet Unterstützung von Joanna Ostrowska, einer polnischen Studentin, die zur Geschichte der Prostitution in den deutschen Konzentrationslagern in Polen forscht. Basierend auf Ostrowskas Ergebnissen rekonstruiert Baumgart zwei Interviews. Zum einen mit Frau W., einer Deutschen, die im Bordell von Auschwitz genötigt wurde, sexuelle Dienste für Gefangene zu leisten, und zum anderen mit Barbara, einer Polin, die von russischen Soldaten vergewaltigt wurde. Baumgart konstruiert außerdem das Dramaspiel einer sexuell missbrauchten Frau, die eine systemische Therapie nach Bert Hellinger macht. Dessen Hauptmethode der Familienaufstellung beruht darauf, das Opfer darin zu bestärken, traumatische Ereignisse der Vergangenheit laut auszusprechen. Baumgarts Video erzeugt einen ähnlichen therapeutischen Effekt, indem die Künstlerin den zuvor verstummten weiblichen Stimmen ein Forum bietet und sie so Teil der Kriegserzählungen werden.




► 1. Your video has been chosen among over 1700 festival entries to participate in Videonale 13. How central is the video medium to your overall artistic production? Is it complimentary to other media you use or do you work exclusively with video?

As an Art Academy student I was learning the essence of sculpture defined in a very classical way. While at work in atelier I had to confront myself with “richness” of sculpture that lies in its technique, realization process, and its peculiar medium characteristics of a kind of frozen picture captured on film. It was shortly after the end of my study at the academy that I realized it was a camera which helped me to get faster and deeper to the essence of the subject I was concerned with. So I have chosen a camera as a tool and film as medium with which I can express myself. It is both the film and the sculpture as a picture captured on film which constitute my work and correspond to each other.


► 2. Is there a particular theme, concept or problem your art addresses the most?

I am particularly interested in the phenomenon of exclusion, casting outside of the pale, omission within the discourse, the missing fragment, the silence resulting from the fact that someone was deprived of his/her voice.


► 5. Art can be seen as a mirror that registers and reflects life or as a tool that transforms it. Which of the two positions is close to your own art-making philosophy?


I believe that art can be understood as an instrument which transforms thinking and consciousness which inevitably leads to transforming human action. I am looking at the effects of art similar to Walter Benjamin who once stated that “Every second was the narrow gate, through which the Messiah could enter”. I tend to regard Julian Assange’s activity as a form of art. His acting is rooted in belief that everyone should know everything. Assange believes every information concerning military operations should be transparent so that any authority responsible for them might be subject to citizens' examinations. The documents published about the Afghanistan war by Wikileaks reveal 144 incidents during which the civilians suffered, 195 were killed, 174 were injured. In one of such cases the French soldiers who were fearing the suicidal terrorist attacks started shooting at the bus full of children because it drew up too close to the military convoy. British soldiers mistakenly killed 16 children. Polish soldiers attacked the village killing people at the wedding ceremony, also by mistake. Political commentators claim that facts revealed by the Wikileaks should make societies refuse any support for this dirty war and this will force the governments to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.


► 7. What is the most difficult and the most rewarding thing about making art / being an artist?

The most wonderful and at the same time the most difficult thing about being an artist is the fact that you never stop working or thinking about you work. Creation process comprises all artist’s life with no exception giving in return no certainty of success or security. It doesn’t guarantee that a new idea will come. It subordinates all your live efforts to the process which leads to emergence of a new project. There is no guarantee, but on the other hand, there is no superior boss, who manages the artist’s time to the exclusion of what can not be excluded: spring and winter which are the deadlines of next contests and the time of looking forward to the grants or sales if the artist participates in art market. All of which means dependence on the cultural politics – the great monster that I have to tame and convince that it is exactly what I have to say that makes sense.


► 8. What are your upcoming projects?


My upcoming project is Video Film International Forgery, or the true genealogy of Łódź Modern Art Museum’s Collection. The film will be based on the edited archive footage about bolshevik agit trains, photos of fabricated and authentic documents, interviews with the historians of art and ideas, interviews with authentic and unauthentic witnesses of the time telling the story making up the final picture in which the agit train sent in 1918 from Moscow to Berlin reaches Łódź at the Main Railway Station.

The picture will be edited in such a way that the viewers will have the impression of watching the authentic document which until recently was kept in deep hiding in the museum’s safe. It is a taboo document. The film proves that genealogy of Polish Constructivism is indeed rooted in Bolshevism, which is what it was accused in the twenties. It did come to Poland in agit – prop wagons.

The agit trains were designed by the best Soviet artists, such as constructivists Lissitzky, Tatlin and many others.  The trains travelled around the Soviet Union to „bring” culture and art to every distant region. The affinity of revolutionary goals and inherent dynamics of art offered possibility of mutual influences. Lunacharsky, the Soviet cultural commissar wrote: „If the revolutions might endow art with soul, then art might endow revolution with speech.”
Because of political reasons such a train could not have been allowed officially to enter Poland which was in conflict with the USSR at the time. But it could have arrived secretly to Łódź where the presence of left political activism was very strong. That is why Strzemiński chose Łódź as the  location for the modern art collection and got support of local authorities which offered for this reason the exhibition premises. (Warszawa rejected the Strzeminski’s proposal to found a museum of avant guarde art). The idea of the project reconsiders this fictional discovery of the agit train visiting Łódź, that has been hidden for years out of political reasons, and now this discovery calls for revaluation of our thinking.

The project takes into reconsideration the beginnings of the Łódź International Modern Art Collection and its reception in 20th century. The following questions are raised: why the political and social potential of the collection went under tabooisation processes, and why the revolutionary background of Polish Constructivism was repressed from the Polish public sphere in the 20th century.  At the same time the following problem is being discussed: what are the contemporary effects that have resulted from the aesthetisation strategy toward revolutionary art. It focuses also on the Soviet avant guard understood as the Other of the Polish modern art which believed to be the part of Western art in opposition to Russian tradition.

The project is aiming to start a game with the reception of a museum collection in the 1930’s by stressing its political dimensions and investigating its radical aesthetisation in the post-Stalin era. In this way one of the most essential problems of the Polish avant guard should be discussed, namely its depolitisation (as reaction to its Social Realistic episode), its sacralisation and its bias to a liberal position what has denied the essence of historical avant guard manifestos, in which art is inherently bound with constructing of „the new brave world”.


► 9. What do you do when you don't make art?

I drink coffee.


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