Cheerleaderka/Cheerleader by Katarzyna Kozyra from the permanent collection of Zachęta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland)
February 1, 1963 |
|Training||Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig|
Katarzyna Kozyra (born 1963) is a Polish video artist. She finished German studies in the Warsaw University (1985–1988). She graduated in 1993 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Hochshule für Graphik und Buchkunst in Leipzig and received a Paszport Polityki award in 1997. She has exhibited internationally since 1997, at venues including Brown University and Carnegie International in the U.S.
Her art was involved in a 1999 censorship incident in Poland. Her photo portrait of Slawomir Belina in a Warsaw exhibition in 2000 was also controversial for its alleged eroticism, as his anus was in the centre of the composition.
In 1999 represented Poland in the 48th Venice_Biennale , where she got commendation for video installation "Men’s Bathhouse". In September 2011 she received the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage grant.
Pyramid of animals was her graduate work (1993). It consisted of dissected animal bodies: horse, dog, cat and rooster. While quoting a theme from Grimm brother’s fairy tale "The Four Musicians from Bremen", the Pyramid... was supposed to concern human involvement in industrial animal killing procedure. Kozyra became known as controversial artist because of the notoriety with the installation, and other her works: "Blood relationship" 1995, "Olimpia" 1996, "Lady’s bathhouse" 1997 and "Man’s bathhouse" 1999).
"Olimpia" (photos and video) was a recording of Kozyra’s fight with cancer. The assumption was an attempt to restore dignity to ailing, moribund body; polemic with official, endorsed commonly image of healthy, strong, beautiful and completely controlled body. It was a protest against belief, that body illness or senility doom its owner to social invisibility.
"Lady’s bathhouse" considers similar subject matter (the artist entered public bathhouse with hidden camera). Kozyra’s intention was to show, how do women really appear in situation when nobody is looking and when they don’t need to follow beauty canons. Additionally it was an allusion to the history of art, which played significant role in formation of this canon (Jean Ingres’s paintings of lady’s bathhouses). "Man’s Bathhouse" was a confrontation and continuation. Kozyra went into man’s bathhouse with fake penis attached to her and a towel hung on her shoulders covering the breasts. Surprisingly she found out, that men even when being alone they still focus on their appearance, peer at each other, compare. Mystification was not revealed.
She also creates video clips. For instance, "Cheerleader" from "In art dreams become real" series.
Anda Rottenberg, Director of Galeria Zacheta in Warsaw where Kozyra first showed "Bath house" in 1997 and who also purchased the work, sparked off controversy by writing to Art Monthly in October 1998 and claiming that Kozyra's "Bath house" and artist Tacita Dean's 1998 "Gellert" were of the same subject: the most famous bath house in Budapest. Freely admitting that controversy helps in the promotion of a work, "Controversy around this work was in fact a very stimulating factor and now as the months passed Bath house has come to be regarded as classic", Rottenberg found the coincidence "indeed amazing". However, the works differ completely. Whereas Kozyra used hidden cameras intending to reveal the bathing women's natural behaviour as well as challenging normal considerations of privacy, and is a multi-screen video work (see letter again), Dean had permission from the bath workers and her single screen film is concerned with the healing sulphurous waters of the baths (see Colin Gleadell, The Daily Telegraph, 1 February 2001).
- Sabine Folie, The Impossible Theater: Performativity in the Works of Pawel Althamer, Tadeusz Kantor, Katarzyna Kozyra, Robert Kusmirowski and Artur Zmijewski, Verlag Fur Moderne Kunst (2006), ISBN 3-938821-03-5
- Brandon Taylor, Contemporary Art: Art since 1970, Prentice Hall (2004), ISBN 0-13-118174-2
- Laura Hoptman and Tomas Pospiszyl (ed.), Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s, The MIT Press (2002), ISBN 0-262-08313-2 - described at MOMA International Program 
- Pawel Leszkowicz, Feminist Revolt: Censorship of Women’s Art in Poland, Bad Subjects website, Jan 2005
- Karol Sienkiewicz, Penetration and Gender Insubordination: On the examples of Belina, Mapplethorpe, and Herrmann, SEKCJA magazine
- Only in art, dreams come true, culture.pl website
- Exhibition 2004-05, Carnegie International
- Exhibition in 2004, Postmasters, New York - see Archive reviewed at Paulina Pobocha, Katarzyna Kozyra’s Punishment and Crime, NY Arts magazine
- Exhibition in 2003, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University
- Biography, culture.pl website
- Kozyra's official website