Jarosław Kozłowski: Recycled News


Jarosław Kozłowski: Recycled News

01.06.2021 - 27.06.2021 / MSU galerija

On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, the exhibition Recycled News by Polish artist Jarosław Kozłowski opens at the MSU Gallery. At 6 pm Kozłowski will give a presentation: "On painting and politics.”

Recycled News is a long-term project by Jarosław Kozłowski that focuses on the policy and criticism of news media. The exhibition consists of hundreds of newspaper pages from different parts of the world, which the artist has painted over with watercolors. The exhibition spotlights the media and the differences between news and its presentation. News is most often recycled, and the speed with which information is spread is inversely proportional to its reliability.

Jarosław Kozłowski’s Recycled News  (From Marek Wasilewski's essay)

According to Piotr Piotrowski, Jarosław Kozłowski is perhaps the most expressive representative of Polish conceptual art. An extremely versatile artist, he uses media such as drawing, installations, art books, photography, and performance in his practice. Pedagogical and curatorial work is also an important element of Kozłowski’s activity.

…The artist uses newspapers published in different languages in various countries and paints the pages with watercolours so that, apart from small fragments of articles, the content becomes invisible. The choice of colours is entirely arbitrary and the composition created on gallery walls is a purely aesthetic gesture subject to the principles of colour harmony. This, taking into account the ideological and political differences between the publications used, takes on the value of certain irony. The artist has painted over 3000 newspaper pages so far.” My utopian plan – the artist says – is to cover all the newspapers that are published around the world with watercolours.”

…One can find many overlying threads, important from both individual and universal perspective, in this series. The artist takes up the pertinent and politically important topic of how the news media operate. The essential feature of news and information is to be up to date, to referring to the most tangible feelings of the present. Contrary to breaking news, or last minute news, Recycled News are presented outside of time, sealed behind glass as organized, categorized objects. Although mainstream print media – a mass phenomenon characterised by certain rituals (e.g. reading newspapers in cafes) – is a thing of the past, the newspaper remains to be a kind of fetish and symbol – the first historical mass carrier of information, advertising, entertainment and sensation.

…Following Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement, “the medium is the message,” Kozłowski’s work does not portray the news itself, rather but relates to the medium itself. Mass media, such as television, press, and online news portals primarily celebrate not the information, but the way it is presented. Fleeting and unstable content that loses urgency and appeal within an hour is only a pretext for the form, which in this case is more permanent. What is more, today we come to realize that all breaking news is, to some degree, recycled. This incessant recycling, mediation, repetition, and reusing constitute the technology of today’s media business.

…The circulation and content of news is tremendously important issue in the face of the triumph of populism and the abandonment of democratic rule in many countries around the world. Interestingly, Kozłowski does not differentiate the newspapers he uses based on the quality of the information they convey. An old joke asked: what is the difference between the two most important dailies published in the Soviet Union, Pravda [truth] and Izvestia [news]? Answer: There is no difference, because there is no Pravda in Izvestia, and there is no Izvestia in Pravda.

Nowadays, we live in a world where, thanks to digital revolution, this problem has returned with double the force. The departure from the idea of reliable news has a long historical tradition, but also carries specific ethical and political consequences. As Timothy Snyder writes, „ To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.” The speed and universality of information circulation is inversely proportional to its reliability. News agencies, newspapers, television, and online outlets in many countries specialize in producing propaganda, fake news, and deliberately obscuring reality. Kozłowski, painting over entire pages of newspapers and making them impossible to read, seems to ironically refer to this phenomenon.

…Kozłowski explains that this series is a record of his personal resistance to media indoctrination.  “The media shape our perception of the world, not just with what they write, but also how they write it. We experience a mediated world, allowing ourselves to be deceived by media rhetoric. In Recycled News I seek to distance myself from and neutralise those manipulations.”

Jarosław Kozłowski graduated in 1969, he from the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Poznań, where he later worked for a number years and was its rector in 1981-1987. Kozłowski was also a lecturer at the Statens Kunstakademie in Oslo, Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and Academy Without Walls in Lusaka. In 1971, together with Andrzej Kostołowski, he founded the international artistic network NET, which connected artists on the opposite sides of the Iron Curtain. Between 1972-1990, Kozłowski ran the independent gallery Akumulatory 2 and between 1991-1993 he curated the programme and collection of the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw. In 2019, he founded Archiwum Idei [Ideas Archive] that exhibits the work of artists associated with the NET network and Akumulatory 2. He is the author of over one hundred solo exhibitions. He took part in 1977 Biennale de Paris, the 8th Biennale of Sydney in 1990, and the 4th International Istanbul Biennale in 1995. His work has been shown, among others, at Matts Gallery in London, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, MOCAK in Kraków, National Museum in Poznań, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, The New Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

Jarosław Kozłowski’s exhibition Recycled News is being held as part of the collaboration between the Municipal Gallery Arsenał in Poznań and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb.

The exhibition and the catalogue have been realised with support of the City of Zagreb, the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, the Municipal Gallery Arsenał in Poznań and the City of Poznań.

Author of the exhibition:Marek Wasilewski

Municipal Gallery Arsenal, Poznań

Author of the exhibition set-up: Jarosław Kozłowski

Exhibition curator: Kristina Bonjeković Stojković