drucken Bookmark and Share

by Kuba Szreder

#biennale or A is for Artyzol

671,793 posts

Responding to the invitation of the editorial team to delve into a bottomless pit of the 671.793 Instagram posts tagged with #biennale, at first, I started to look at images. Unfortunately, IG feeds tend to be too self-reflectively curated. So, I saw carefully selected images of art objects, made as if nobody else was taking other photos in exactly same time. As if biennales were about art. I was slightly disappointed. It did not resemble biennales I know – messy affairs attended by throngs of art aficionados – where art talk is at everybody’s lips. At the biennales I know, who met whom is just as important as who saw what. And then I turned to reels, which indeed are much more real. They provide us with a much better (and moving) image of people intermingling, cuing, small-talking, meeting, partying, making photos, submerging in the crowds, slacking, and being watched while watching art. The art lingo mixed with social media exclamations, hyperboles, and adverbs. The automatic “speech to text” bots give this a slightly subversive veneer, as they automatically record international art vernacular, neatly subtitled, a proper peek into the subconsciousness of artistic circulation. Reels are all the buzz.

I have tried to capture the very same murmur of the relentless grind of global art circulation in my recent book “The ABC of the Projectariat. Living and working in a precarious art world”. In this comprehensive lexicon I try to map intermittent existence of people who make one project after another and many at the same time. One of the first of its sixty-seven entries is dedicated to Artyzol, a mysterious substance that makes art people board budget flights and flock to yet another opening of the whatever biennale they want to attend, and post one of those 671.000 #biennale IG posts. Below an abbreviated version of the entry:

A is for Artyzol

‘Artyzol’ is a Polish neologism, invented by the Free/Slow University of Warsaw to describe the affectionate relationship between art workers and artwork. We generated this term to denaturalize the same love of art that the art world mythologizes. Artyzol is a linguistic hybrid of ‘art’ (in Polish, part of the word artysta , i.e. artist) and ‘Muchozol’, a bug spray produced during the good, old, communist times. This etymology is pretty fitting, as Artyzol might be fairly intoxicating in overdoses. But in small quantities, Artyzol is somewhat stimulating, as it is sprayed to infuse the atmosphere – of events or institutions – with artistic allure. Artyzol in its gaseous form is characterized with an elusive and yet pervasive scent, with smoky undertones, hovering over larger art events like the smell of vegan sausages grilled at a hipsters’ barbecue. (…)  But on a more serious note, thinking about Artyzol was not only a flight of theoretical fancy, but rather a tongue-in-cheek way of dealing with a pretty serious problem, because the artistic projectariat most of the time runs on fumes, unpaid or underpaid for their art work, crammed into small apartments in zone four of metropolitan centers, flocking to major shows and biennales via budget airlines (when they actually take off, which is far less certain than it used to be before the age of COVID-19). Even if Artyzol is a theoretical hypothesis, the artistic projectariat makes actual sacrifices to pursue their love for art. Artyzol is the opiate of creativity, which emerges in the process of artistic circulation.

(…)   It has to be noted that when the notion of Artyzol was officially introduced (…) it prompted a mixed response. Some fellow art workers welcomed this as a tongue-in-cheek take on their daily struggles. After all, who has not felt intoxicated in the rush of running from one project to another, or become slightly tipsy from making art?  On the other, Artyzol has been taken at face value – as if it was an academic term that reifies complex social relations as some sort of material substance. The lovers of art hated it just as much, rightly identifying it as a poke at artistic autonomy, with all its romantic underpinnings and fixations. At the end of the day, it is a humorous metaphor coined to denote a serious issue. But it is not a spray. Nobody sane would start running around the Giardini in Venice to test the air for mysterious perfumes enticing unconditional love of art, unless it would be framed as a re-enactment of one of Robert Barry’s conceptual art pieces, made for the very fun of doing it. However, a high concentration of Artyzol would explain why all those people run around Venice as if they were a flock of headless chickens – and suffer withdrawal symptoms when their biennales are suspended.”













Kuba Szreder is a researcher, curator, and a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw. He cooperates with artistic unions, consortia of postartistic practitioners, clusters of art-researchers, art collectives and artistic institutions in Poland, UK, and other European countries. He is editor and author of several catalogues, books, readers, book chapters, articles and manifestos, in which he scrutinizes the social, economic, and theoretical aspects of the expanded field of art. Current research interests include curating interdisciplinary projects, artistic research, new models of artistic institutions, artistic self-organization, postartistic theory and practice. In 2021 his book The ABC of the projectariat: living and working in a precarious art world was published by the Manchester University Press and the Whitworth.

Go back

Issue 58

Speculations: Funding and Financing Non-Profit Art

by Ronald Kolb, Dorothee Richter, Shwetal Patel

Editorial: Speculations: Funding and Financing Non-Profit Art