Soft surveillance

‘I want visitors to feel safe and happy – and maybe a bit rebellious,’ says Paulina Latham, head of events at the Polish Cultural Institute and curator of Poland Street Underground 2009: Kontrol. Taking its cues from the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain as well as the 60th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s novel 1984, this year the two-day multimedia art exhibition aims to dispel Cold War myths and explore the relationship between surveillance, society and security. It will feature multi-sensory installations, documentaries and music – all set in a pristine, white, sanatorium-style interior designed by Polish architecture and design group Moomoo. Artists represented include Artur Zmijewski, whose Repetition film is a re-enactment of Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, and Rafal Bujnowski, whose Visa project saw him crossing the US border with an official passport containing a photorealist self-portrait – a witty comment on identity and perception. Janek Simon’s installation Robot VJ merges television programmes on an old television and video mixer, inspired by a group of artists in 1980s Poland who hacked into TV stations. Jarosław Kozakiewicz, meanwhile, takes the theme of prison to inner space in the film Sanopticon. The exhibition is accompanied by poker lessons, free vodka cocktails and other entertainment, and works more on a philosophical level than by making a political statement, says Latham. ‘It’s not about “Communism versus capitalism”, for example, but more about human nature and behaviour. I don’t want it to be a political show. I like the juxtaposition between powerful political work and the soft, inflatable walls and white space, which represent our dreams of being safe and secure.’

Poland Street Underground 2009: Kontrol is on at the Vinyl Factory Gallery, 51 Poland Street, London W1 on 13-14 November

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