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Jarosław Kozłowski

Listening by Eye

Jaroslaw Kozlowski and Andrzej Kostolowski: NET, 1971

In the aftermath of the Second World War the Iron Curtain cut across Europe, creating not only an East-West geographical divide but also systemic ideological and cultural borders.

In 1971 artist Jarosław Kozłowski and critic Andrzej Kostołowski created what came to be known as ‘NET Manifesto’ and mailed it to more than 300 artists and art theorists worldwide. The manifesto called for the abolition of those carefully guarded borders by a free exchange of ideas, projects, artworks, publications, and other forms of expression that would also be made accessible outside of the official art circuit.

From the Summer of 2020 Muzeum Susch presents the second installment in a series of presentations prepared by Jarosław Kozłowski, one of the key figures of conceptual art. While the first one focused on text, Listening by Eye focuses on sound and listening presenting works and objects by over 20 artists.

Ideas of art blurring different genres and languages, and transforming space and sound has long fascinated artists, both those working with sound as well as visual arts. The 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s saw an exceptional interest in this field. The performative aspect of music became an inspiration for painters and sculptors alike who deployed sound to challenge the existing artistic paradigms. Musicians, on the other hand, sought alternative forms of expression, frequently trading traditional instruments for unconventional acoustic objects and musical scores for text or diagrams.

In 1952, John Cage performed his celebrated 4'33 piece which prompted the audience to listen in to the silence for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Cage’s proposal was a radical change in what constitutes the essence of music and a turning point in considering how it could be expanded.

10 years later, in 1962, during a Fluxus festival in the city museum of Wiesbaden, the musician and composer Phillip Corner, with other artists, including George Maciunas, Dicka Higgins, Nam June Paik, Ben Paterson, and Emmett Williams, created the work Piano Activities. This was a symbolic act of destruction of a classical piano – a sound as much as a visual act that was met with outrage. The result of the twelfth version of Piano Activities carried out with the participation of the audience at the Art University in Poznań, Poland, in 2012 is currently on view in Susch. This presentation focuses on the links between seeing and hearing art in a broad, experimental perspective.

NET presentation: Listening by Eye, list of works