Arek Pasożyt. Pasożycie. Od praktyki do praktyki (Parasite Life. From Practice to Practice)
Processing is ongoing
The apathy outside the window, the damp cold, the grey. In such a landscape, it is not difficult to find typos, omissions, skips. Harnessing time seems even more complicated than usual. Everything is drowned in toil and laboriousness, simultaneously retreating and accelerating. It is not clear which version of the time is current. The depleted energy resources harmonise with the trailed vegetables lying in the shop windows. Apathy seems to be a pervasive trend. ENOUGH – my gaze falls on one of the Arek Pasożyt’s Strike Images. Elsewhere, I see pictures of a freegan operation to rescue discarded food. What is rejected can become nourishment. Time to move.
Action is a form of resistance. It abolishes passivity, is a constant revision and search for new shapes and meanings. And this is not at all about the leading requirement for novelty. Actions can be revealing through authenticity, through the need to communicate, to enter into a relationship, rather than through their form. Extracting the most obvious issues, but also those that are emotionally engaging and most objectionable, and laying them out in a straightforward manner can be the most complicated thing. An active attitude moves the environment, both the supportive one and the opposing one. It encourages action, discussion.
The patchwork layer of Pasożyt’s activities pulsates, it is vital. The waste of overproduction and consumption is returning to the circulation of thought and reflection. They are an anchor point, new ideas grow from them, rooted in the method of getting out of one’s home, out of one’s bubble, and seeing what “gives back to the city”. Every element has potential, every trip into the city space can bring new finds. What emerges here is optimism, related to willingness, action, and extracted from a general pessimism and sense that no human system functions properly. Testing the hope for a better world is still relevant, it may be utopian, but the most important element is the dynamic, carried out in a rhythm and using methods that are compatible with each other. It gives the power to live, to be consciously reactive. To be free.
One can feel at ease when interacting with Pasożyt’s work, even though it can be uncomfortable at times – it forces one to look at one’s own consumption strategies. It triggers the strings of anarcho-feminist yearnings, current and those of the time of uncompromising rebellion. The sounds of punk rock and ska begin to ring in your ears, in a word – you want to act, jump and resist. And the ways of communicating dissent proposed by Arek are varied. Sometimes it is to go out into the city space with a painting in your hands and a strong, categorical slogan resounding from the canvas area. At other times, it was a radical yet meditative hunger strike, located beneath the cultural management institutions in Toruń. These are often functional social activities.
Pasożyt’s work is also conducted with tongue in cheek and a dose of humour. Sometimes it is close to the aesthetics of zines, harnessing the energy of protest and collective action. It is a play with the notion of a work of art, enclosed in a specific plane, and with the notion of the artist himself. In this case, Arek Pasożyt is an animated self-portrait, which is already manifested in the concept of the thesis, written precisely on the creator, Pasożyt. Serious gestures are not pathetic, as they are accompanied by intelligent and ironic transgressions of established forms. This method is what Pasożycie is all about – the artist proposes to use what is available, or even discarded, and in this way take a stance on the surrounding reality. The self-contained nature of these activities means that they can be carried out in-house, outside of institutional support, and can be transferred, as needed, or processed, as required.
The “Pasożycie. Od praktyki do praktyki” is a collecting open form, in process, transformation. It is based on several thematic pillars – actions, carried out by the artist in outdoor spaces and in his own studio/gallery/apartment. The opening of the exhibition will take the form of a Swap Party, a cashless exchange of clothes. Its aim is to initiate a collaborative series of practices around Pasożycie. To ask oneself: what do I really need? What do I want to give away, what do I want to exchange and what do I want to leave behind? Part of the exhibition is a workshop space where workshops will be held in the areas of upcycling, recycling and creating alternative fashion collections. The collection of documentation illustrates the dynamics of action and artworks “going out” to the outside world, to the streets, being an expression of protest found through the transformation of the classically understood image form. Wandering through Pasożycie is also an examination of methods of working with control. Understood as social and political norms, but also as one’s own elaborate strategy, which is worth resisting in order to find an independent life dynamic.
Karolina Pikosz / curator of the exhibition
Arek Pasożyt – a visual artist. In 2010, he announced the “The Parasitism Manifesto”, presenting the idea of his actions as a parasite artist, thus making a critical reference to the artist’s status in society. In line with the ideas contained in the “Manifesto”, Arek Pasożyt lived and created parasitically for four years in a dozen cities, cultural institutions and all kinds of cultural venues. Over time, his activities evolved into what he calls “feeding projects”. In this spirit, a series of activities was created in 2012, “Chętnie pomogę” (I’m Willing to Help), carried out in Polish villages and towns. In 2013, in close cooperation with the Elbląg housing estate community, he started the construction of the DOM on a neglected lawn between high-rise blocks of flats. A house, that is the dream of every young person who does not have the money for land, materials and builders. Subsequently, he sought to work with social groups described as “social parasites” in various projects: Roma, with the long-term unemployed or those experiencing exclusion. One such project is the one carried out in 2015-2016, “Zakład Malarstwa „Nie do odrzucenia” (Painting Shop “Not to be Refused”), in which homeless people worked. Underpinning this and other activities is a belief in the therapeutic role of art and the conviction that through it people can improve their situation.
In 2017, as part of the Declaration of Opposition to Current Cultural Policy, written and published by the Toruń-based Grupa nad Wisłą (of which he is a co-founder and still a member), he launched the Głodówka (Hunger Strike). The hunger strike protest was held outside cultural institutions in Toruń: Centre for Contemporary Art “Znaki czasu”, Horzyca Theatre, Jordanki Cultural and Congress Centre, City Hall and Marshall Office. The entire Głodówka took place in the mobile structure in which the artist lived and spent the night. It ended on the 8th day after the Emergency Department intervened.
Since the beginning of his activities as the Parasite, the artist has painted paintings in the background, which over time have become an increasingly important part of his work. Beyond formal parasitism, they become an attempt to give voice to the human condition and the world and, over time, a direct commentary on the current socio-political situation. At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, with the increase in street protests, he started to go out with his paintings to the demonstrations (Obrazy Strajkujące (Striking Images)). More information on Parasitism in the Parasitism Manifesto. Since 2021, doctoral student at Academia Artium Humaniorum of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń (Doctoral School of Humanities, Theological and Artistic Sciences).