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Edukacji i Postępu STEP
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TR 029-030 Andrzej Mitan
“Doctor Cat speaking. What will you write about me?”—Andrzej Mitan begins a phone conversation with me.
There are two options among the organizers of art life, especially art curators: the first one is based on a strict assignment of roles, the same person can not be a curator and artist at the same time, as this is regarded to be extremely unprofessional, and everything has to go exactly according to a plan. The other one, originating from the tradition of Fluxus, or—in Poland, of the Construction in Process—claims that we are all creative people of an equal status, that the roles of a curator or artist aren’t that important after all, that they can easily interweave, and their artificial assigning is extremely not artistic and that each festival, exhibition or other project is a process and if something goes its own way it’s even better.
Andrzej Mitan, who—I believe—knows everybody and co-operated during his 40 years of creative work with hundreds of artists, musicians and animators, is for sure a representative of the latter kind. What’s interesting and actually typical, group activity and openness to the process doesn’t get him of the main track—leading to a long-term, distant and most important goal.
This aim of art is best described by Gottfried Helnwein and I probably won’t come up with anything more appropriate so I will quote him: “When I look at a work of Art I ask myself: does it inspire me, does it touch and move me, do I learn something from it, does it startle or amaze me—do I get excited, upset? That is the test any artwork has to pass: can it create an emotional impact on a human being even when he has no education or any information about art? I’ve always had a problem with art that you can only understand if you have a degree in art history, and I have a problem with theories. Most of them are bullshit anyway. Most critics and theorists have little respect for artists, and I think the importance of theory in art is totally overrated. Real art is self-evident. Real art is intense, enchanting, exciting and unsettling; it has a quality and magic that you cannot explain.”
This is what I experience every time I participate in a presentation of the “Polish Didactic poem”, a concert with melodeclamation and songs by Mitan, a treatise on art and ethics, on their mutual configurations. I have seen some ten of them—the first ever took place during our fist “wARTo” event in 2004—with various musicians, in both small and large groups. The guys have better and worse days—that’s pretty obvious. Sometimes in the beginning I think: “My God, I know it by heart!”, but already when it comes to the sentence repeated by Mitan with stress on subsequent words: “art is a process of creating independent reality, manifested by an artist” I follow Helnwein’s recipe and I become seduced, and when Mitan manages to persuade the whole audience—even in foreign languages—to chant, louder and louder, the definition of “elite”, I fall into some sort of a silent ecstasy.
Despite health, financial and family problems (the tragic death of his brother), despite the fact that he spends loads of time in buses from Grójec where he lives, to the Mazovia Region Centre of Culture and Arts in Warsaw and the Mazovian Region of Modern Art Centre “Elektrownia” in Radom—Mitan continues tirelessly with his mission.
He also encourages others in their undertakings. It was a pleasure to co-operate with him as the General Curator of the ”Art Uprising” in “Elektrownia”, under his guidance we published the “Book of Job”, he supported our projects: ”wARTo”, “Icons of Victory” and ”transFORM—creative space on the Vistula river”.
I happily remark that the Polish art of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s presents itself much better on the pages of this issue of “working title” than it looks in many collections and in fashionable overviews. It doesn’t show off pseudo-spirituality nor pseudo-scandals, if there is anything shocking in it it is its courage to experiment and the modernity of form. And although we have Mitan’s jubilee, I’m not going to recapitulate anything here. On the contrary, I will wait with curiosity to see what he will come up with. Doctor Cat.