Karolina Wiktor


A Space for Dialogue | interactive installation, 2018

For many years, Karolina Wiktor’s art was focused on performative actions. However, her more recent works combine visual arts, concrete poetry and neuroscience, resulting in an amalgam of various elements of these disciplines and strategies. Though her work method and approach have undergone a radical change, Wiktor’s art is still subordinated to one overriding objective and subject: communication. Interest in its various aspects has lately prompted her to analyse language and reactions that words provoke in the brain. For instance, the artist studies the common, vulgar and insulting writings scribbled with spray paint on the walls of buildings, looking at our reactions to the language used therein. She proposes to replace these street slogans with ones that would carry a positive message, refer to dialogue, inspire and promote cooperation.

For this year’s NARRACJE, Wiktor has prepared an interactive installation titled A Space for Dialogue. Those festival-goers who will agree to take part in the action proposed by the artist will be divided into pairs and given a task: to arrange elements of the alphabet prepared especially for the occasion into the words “language”, “gesture”, “sign” or “letter”. On the face of it, the unique font Wiktor made for participants of the action may resemble the so-called Strzemiński’s alphabet, first published by the artist in his Message No. 2 of the a.r. Group in 1932. At the time, the simplified, geometric shapes of his letters were perceived as very modern and aesthetic. This similarity is merely ostensible, though: Strzemiński designed this typography, which relied on a mental shortcut of sorts, as an aesthetic exercise. On the other hand, Wiktor’s reduction of letters to simple shapes is rooted in her experience of aphasia – the time when the letters she wrote were incomplete to the point of illegibility. Another inspiration behind the alphabet was the new-wave group BRAK, whose name, translated as “lack” or “shortage”, did not only refer to the everyday realities of life in communist Poland, but this “lack” formed part of their logo, with geometric shapes imitating the missing letters.

location: premises on Inwalidów Wojennych Square


Karolina Wiktor (b. 1980) is a visual artist. In 2001–10 together with Aleksandra Kubiak she formed the Sędzia Główny (Chief Judge) performance duo, currently regarded as a legendary phenomenon on the Polish art scene. After a serious illness, which led to several months of aphasia, Wiktor quit performance art. Her experience related to the illness became the basis for her blog Literowanie Obrazu (“Spelling the Image”, poezjawizualna.blogspot.com), and the publication Wołgą przez Afazję (published by Ha!art, 2014). Her works created in recent years refer to concrete poetry, often invoking the classics of Polish modernism. Wiktor analyses the properties of language, the spoken and written word. In 2007, she won the Deutsche Bank Award in the Views competition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (with Aleksandra Kubiak). In 2016, she received the prestigious Katarzyna Kobro Award at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. She lives and works in Warsaw.

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