A portrait of Roman Stanczak, legendary performer and sculptor of the 90s and source of inspiration for the alumni of the famed Kowalnia studio of Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, including Pawel Althamer, Katarzyna Kozyra and Artur Zmijewski. Tying himself up with power cords, stripping furniture, turning a metal kettle inside out, Stańczak has been exploring ways to kill his inner bourgeois, making him the most uncompromising artist of his generation. But being a true rebel comes with a cost. Why did he disappear off the face of the earth? What’s been happening to him through all those years?
After decades of absence, Stańczak gets a chance to reemerge in the art world – he is asked to prepare the Polish pavillon for the 2019 Venice Biennale. Torn and conflicted, he has to also face the damage in his personal life. Is he still the same person and the same artist? Juxtaposing archival footage with contemporary shots, the film is a rough and honest collage. The audience is privy to Stanczak’s frenzied but precise creative process, while he cuts up and puts back again a plane turned inside out, using lacework techniques for scrap metal the size of a whale.
Never before has the Polish Pavilion at the the Venice Biennale been a theme of such fervent discussions. For Polish audiences the artist’s work inevitably brings to mind the Smolensk plane crash, but what’s the true meaning behind the installation? Can Stańczak rebuild his career and fix all his strained relationships?
Roman Stańczak's Flight can be seen at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art until June 3. Stańczak's sculpture is a real plane turned inside out: parts of the plane's interior, cockpit, and passenger seating are visible on the outside, while the wings and fuselage were placed within the structure.