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  • If you’re OK, I’m OK

    Enad Marouf 
    Rafał Pierzyński and Ryszard Kisiel
    Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings
    Wolfgang Tillmans
    Aaron Ratajczyk 
    Kim Lee

    31.12.2020 – 7.01.2021

    The title of this programme is taken from one of Dragana Bar club nights;  a series of parties Kem organised in the summer of 2018 at the Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw. If you’re OK, I’m OK was a fundraising party for Adam Łach aka DJ Czapla Siwa, who needed expensive treatment for Leukemia. The night included lip sync performances by Kim Lee. A year later, on the 30th of July, Adam passed away because of Leukemia. This year, on the 18th December 2020, Kim Lee passed away because of Covid19.

    Kem presents If you’re OK, I’m Ok – an online video programme that traces some of the relations between loss, the queer club, the feeling of being in and out of sync, gesture and intergenerational memory. 

    Choreographer, performer, video-artist and writer, Enad Marouf’s No Crayons Left  is a video performance that was recorded in Dragana Bar, while he was on a residency with Kem in the summer of 2018. The artist frames minimal and intimate gestures while looking deep into the camera, into the eyes of the viewer, layered with a sound recording from the streets of Damascus and Berlin among other sound textures of public spaces. The sound of public space bleeds into the private space of the video, while putting forward a confrontational vulnerability at the edges of loss, loss of words and the possibility of expression.

    The video documentation of a performance by Rafał Pierzyński and Ryszard Kisiel at Pomada Festival is also from autumn 2018 and weaves together personal archival materials of the artist, photographer and archivist Ryszard Kisiel (known for his performative photographs, documentation of cruising areas across Eastern Europe, as well as the first gay polish journal Filo in the 1980s), with the dance and choreographic practice of Rafał Pierzyński. The work embodies the transmission of queer experiences and knowledge, through sensuality and gesture. The two artists use clothing items that Ryszard Kisiel has made and used in his photo sessions since the 1980s. The work in itself is a queer archive of materials, gestures, affects, ways of being together and staging of the self. It manifests performativity as where queer archives most often take place. In Ryszard Kisiel’s work this  has mainly been through performing for the photographic camera whereas for Rafał Pierzyński through dance and choreography. In this work they meet in an intergenereational, tender dance of queer pleasure.

    Hannah Quinlan’s and Rosie Hastings’ UK Gay Bar Directory (2015-2016) is a three part video that documents empty gay bars across the UK. It’s a moving image archive that foregrounds the interiors which provide the conditions for the experience of being at a gay bar. In doing so the work also documents the ongoing loss of queer spaces, and presents these haunting empty interiors, that resonate with the processes of gentrification, austerity, digitalisation across the country and internationally. The film brings attention to how queer spaces are somehow always temporary, fleeting and fragile, while simultaneously the images allow the viewer to fill the empty spaces with their own memories and fantasies. The images move between absence and presence, ghostliness and projection. This work was previously presented at Dragana Bar as part of Eliel Jone’s programme do you host?, on queer spaces and hospitality.

    This haunting emptiness and desire is also present in Wolfgang Tillmans music video Can’t Escape Into Space (2020). The music video uses footage from 2018 of an empty gay bar in Fire Island for a song produced in 2020. The music video and the lyrics elicit associations of how the club and shared dancing have been modes of queer fugitivity. Through capturing an empty club, the music video brings out associations of the beginning or the end of a night, as either full of potential and anticipation or already after the experience.

    A Hole in Space ATH-BER 2020 episodes 1 and 2, is a video work by Aaron Ratajczyk. Aaron is a London and Berlin based artist and choreographer whom Kem commissioned to create the performance Bless This Place for Kem Care in 2018and previously presented his work at the Podskarbinska factory in 2017. This work speaks most directly to the current pandemic context and the conditions of intimacy and friendship mediated through screens, as extensions of physical presence. The video work reflects on the force of synchronising gestures and the sensation of immediacy and proximity through shared movement. These movements produce the sensation of being with someone, in a way that might recall the club, whilst at the same time being permeated with alienation. The title references “A Hole in Space LA-NY 1980” by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, a public communication sculpture that created live-feed screens between The Lincoln Art Centre in New York and The Broadway department store in LA, forecasting video chats as a social event.

    This gathering of videos includes documentation of Kim Lee’s performance at Dragana Bar’s If you’re Ok, I’m OK party, recorded and edited by her boyfriend Remek Szeląg. Remek decided to use the soundtrack Draga that places the lip sync performances out of their synced contexts. This video cuts between footage of Kim Lee and Filip Rutkowski, who debuted lip syncing on stage for the first time on that very same night. Filip made their lip syncing debut to the ballad “Jezioro szczęścia” (Lake of Bliss/ Happiness). The lyrics of this ballad are suiting in this context and are as following: 

    The lake smells of you and tastes of you, 
    I feel it as soon as I dip my face into it, 
    Memories burn me like the sun, 
    Memories as hot as lava, 
    I escape to them every night, oh yes i do. 
    The air fills up with light, up until the very brim. 
    You don’t even know how much I miss you. 
    Memories burn me like the sun, 
    Memories as hot as fire, 
    I escape them each night, oh yes i do.

    Short biographies and credits: 

    Enad Marouf, No Crayons Left, (2018), 

    Enad Marouf is a Syrian/ German performance and video artist based in Berlin. In 2008/9 he worked for the Forsythe company as an artistic assistant in the video department and one year later founded the collective New Forms of Life. His solo works and collaborations has been presented in Athens Biennale, KunstenfestivaldesArts Brussels, 104 Paris, HAU Berlin, Babel Beirut, Centre culturel Francais de Damas, Venice Biennale i.a. Since 2016 He has been part of Anne Imhof’s studio. Collaborating with her as a dramaturge, choreographer and performer. He was part of ANGST I&II in Kunsthalle Basel and Hamburger bahnhof, Faust (winner of the golden lion, Venice Biennale 2017) and SEX I&II in Tate modern and the art institute of Chicago. 

    Aaron Ratajczyk, A Hole in Space ATH-BER 2020 episodes 1 and 2 was commissioned by the RCA CCA as part of the Sets & Scenarios online public programme, hosted by Nottingham Contemporary and Royal College of Art.

    Aaron Ratajczyk is a Polish artist and choreographer, based between London and Berlin. His work includes choreography, video, text and installation. He recently graduated from MFA in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London after completing  BA in Dance, Context, Choreography at HZT/Universität der Künste Berlin. Aaron’s work is currently being shown at the Tree Art Museum in Beijing and was recently part of a show organised by RCA CCA in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary. Upcoming projects include commissions for the Cellular programme at Cell Project Space and the ICA Live Residency Programme in London. Previously he presented work at the Museum of Modern Art and KEM in Warsaw, Yvonne Lambert, Berlin, Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, Import Projects, Berlin, amongst others. Aaron was also a founder and co-curator of the artist-run independent series of events and exhibitions Plural Melts taking place at Yvonne Lambert Berlin between 2015 – 2017.

    Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Uk Gay Bar Directory (2015-2016) 

    Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings (both born 1991 Newcastle & London) are an artist duo working and living in London. Working in film, drawing, installation, performance and fresco their work examines the behaviours, history, politics and artefacts of LGBTQ culture in the western context, exploring how this culture is reflective of broader societal structures. The artists are committed to exposing whiteness, masculinity and nationalism within the LGBTQ community and the impact of state-led violence including: policing, gentrification and austerity on the community. Major projects include The Uk Gay Bar Directory (2016), a moving image archive of gay bars in the UK. Prompted by the rapid closure of gay bars in the UK the directory features over 100 venues and has a duration of four hours. Current solo exhibitions include Public Affairs, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin and In My Room, MOSTYN, Wales.  The artists are represented by Arcadia Missa, London and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin. 

    Rafał Pierzyński and Ryszard Kisiel, Untitled, the performance was commissioned as part of Pomada Festival 2018, make up: Bożna Wydrowska, video: Krzysztof Bagiński

    Rafał Pierzyński ( * 1991) based in Zürich, Polish non-binary performer and choreographer explores touching as a primordial modality of being in the world, a vector that transcends the separation between the body and the mind, technology and nature. It is essential to love and care, and to the deconstruction of representations of the body. For Pierzyński, touching is fundamental to our survival. www.rafalpierzynski.com

    Ryszard Kisiel born 1948 – photographer, performer, founder of the legendary magazine FILO, co-founder of the Association Lambda. 

    Wolfgang Tillmans, Can’t Escape Into Space (2020)

    Music written by Wolfgang Tillmans, Tim Knapp, Bruno Breitzke 
    Produced by Tim Knapp, Bruno Breitzke and Wolfgang Tillmans 
    Vocals and lyrics by Wolfgang Tillmans 
    Mixed by Klaus Knapp and Tim Knapp at Trixx Studios, Berlin
    Video filmed and directed by Wolfgang Tillmans
    Edited by Michael Amstad 
    Filmed in 2018, Fire Island Pines
    Music written and recorded in 2020, Berlin

    Wolfgang Tillmans (German, b. 1968) rose to fame as a documentary-style photographer, with a focal point on London’s gay community.  Tillmans is represented by Maureen Pauley in London, Galerie Daniel Buchholz in Berlin, the Andrea Rosin Gallery in New York, Regen Projects in Los Angeles, and Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris. He is an Artist Trustee of the Tate Board, was a professor at Städelschule in Frankfurt (2003-2006), and runs a nonprofit gallery for new or glossed-over artists of note at his studio in London.

    Kim Lee, If you’re OK, I’m OK (2018) video and editing: Remek Szeląg

    Kim Lee (Andy Nguyen) – Polish drag queen (born in Ha-Noi, Vietnam), and boylesque performer, continuously performing since 2002 in clubs, revues and theaters in Poland and abroad. He/she has been present in many press, radio and television publications moreover, has appeared on the covers of magazines, in video clips, and has been featured in films and documentaries. The character of drag queen Kim Lee also appears in paintings and in Polish literature (“Ości”, “Immigations”). In numerous reports, articles and documents Kim Lee is referred to as the “most popular Polish drag queen”. Kim Lee is known for her huge repertoire, handmade costumes (which she changes on the stage during the show) and attention to detail. He/she collaborates with LGBT + equality organizations, engages in social campaigns, opens film festivals, participates in scientific conferences, publishes film/book reviews in LGBT magazines, runs his/her YouTube channel, which is considered one of the most important vlogs in the LGBT + environment in Poland. Since 2009 she has been annually organizing and conducting the Drag Queen Kim Lee Festival – Poland largest drag queens review.

    The project is realised by Kem, as part of Krytyka Polityczna’s ‘Centrum Jasna’ program and is financed by the Capital City of Warsaw.