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Anarchist Wit
Janek Simon is awarded the Prize for Young Polish Art

Janek Simon, der Gewinner von „Views“,
dem Preis für junge polnische Kunst

After some intense discussions, the moment finally came: An international jury declared Janek Simon the winner of this year’s Views, the Prize for Young Polish Art. The 10.000 € prize is a joint project between Deutsche Bank Foundation and the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw. It has now been awarded for the third time to support young, upcoming artists in Poland, and is accompanied by an exhibition at the Zacheta. Here, recent works by all nominees – most of which were created exclusively for this exhibition – are on display until November 11. Besides the winner, Janek Simon, artists such as Michal Stachyra, Rafal Jakubowicz, Olga Lewicka, Karol Radziszewski and the duos Sedzia Glówny and Rusz Art Gallery show their contributions. Their artistic statements are impressive reflections of the vibrant young Polish scene. In a state of flux between the socialist past and global capitalism, the artists use absurd wit, criticize institutions or take up provocative contemporary issues such as the phenomenon of international terrorism.

In his works, this year’s winner Janek Simon combines a "charming lightness" with subversive strategies, which impressed the international jury comprised of Sebastian Cichocki (Director of the Krokia Gallery and art critic), Britta Färber (Deutsche Bank Art), Elzbieta Jablonska (winner of the 2003 Views prize), Beatrice Josse (Director of FRAC Lorraine), Hanna Wróblewska (Deputy Director of Zacheta National Gallery), Wojciech Kozlowski (Director of the Public Gallery Gerona Gura/Greenmountains) and Jaroslaw Suchan (Director of the Sztuki Museum in Lodzs). In his installations, the Cracow born artist lures the viewer into subtle traps. Many of his projects are charcterized by an anarchist wit, e.g., when he gave lectures on edible plants or the art of lock picking. Another example: In Madagascar, Simon initiated a Polish year including an art exhibition – though without any participation of Polish artists. For Views, Simon exposes absurd, beetle-like creatures made of bread and metal in the halls of the museum. These low-tech constructions crawl on the floor and eventually gather around some sort of shrine: an old TV set whose program is determined by a video mixer that blends the images of two TV channels into an oddly displaced psychodelic picture.

Janek Simons installation at the Zacheta National Gallery

Every two years the selection committee for Views presents promising Polish artists. The lists of nominees from the previous award ceremonies include names such as Monika Sosnowska, who was one of the favorites for the Golden Lion prize at this year’s Venice Biennale, or Pawel Althamer and Paulina Olowska, who now exhibit at major international art events. The prize is intended to encourage young artists who often receive little public attention despite international success since there is still a lack of collectors, sponsors and stipendia in Poland. Last year, Deutsche Bank Polska S.A. received the prize Patron of Culture 2006 for its commitment to Polish culture. This award, which is presented annually by Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage, was granted in recognition of the special concept of “Views”.

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