Paulina Olowska as part of BMW Tate Live

Paulina Olowska as part of BMW Tate Live

Tate Modern

Paulina Olowska, Re Stage of “The Mother” Collage, 2015. Courtesy the artist.

September 7, 2015

Paulina Olowska
The Mother An Unsavoury Play in Two Acts and an Epilogue

Part of BMW Tate Live
14–27 September 2015

Ticketed evening performances:
21 September, 7 & 8:30pm
23 September, 7 & 8:30pm
25 September, 10pm

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

T +44 (0)20 7887 8888

The Mother An Unsavoury Play in Two Acts and an Epilogue, a new commission by the artist Paulina Olowska, takes the form of a two-week installation and a site-specific theatre performance staged within Tate’s collection.

Olowska transforms the room dedicated to Realism in the Poetry and Dream collection display into a domestic space. The white-walled gallery becomes a stage set, with wardrobes, table and chairs, hand-painted murals and wallpaper mimicking the interior of a wooden house. These elements sit alongside paintings from the Tate collection by artists such as Henri Matisse, Dora Carrington, Pablo Picasso and André Derain. 

During the day, the installation functions as part of the collection, while in the evening it is the set of a new theatre play devised by Olowska. Within this site-specific environment, the artist directs excerpts from The Mother: An Unsavoury Play in Two Acts and an Epilogue, a 1924 play by avant-garde Polish artist and playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885–1939), who set himself against realism and naturalism in theatre. 

Two professional actors play the role of the mother and the son, while Olowska’s friends and collaborators take on characters including the maid, the prostitute, the aristocratic party boy and the suspicious individual.

The Mother An Unsavoury Play in Two Acts and an Epilogue (1924) portrays the dysfunctional relationship between Janina Eely, a matron, and Leon Eely, her son. The story takes place in a bourgeois setting in which hallucinations, schizophrenia, alcoholism, madness and drug addiction turn into a surrealist mayhem.

For this new production, Paulina Olowska revisits a modern drama and engages with a public museum collection as a site for performance. Olowska uses a combination of museum setting and theatre format to build a space for a shared art experience.

About the artist
Working across painting, performance, installation and curating, Paulina Olowska’s work often focuses on forgotten figures of feminism, minor histories and popular aesthetics, quoting fashion photography, agitprop posters, graffiti, periodicals and signage. She has recently shown solo projects and exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Basel; Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. She is also the Aachen Art Prize recipient for 2014. Olowska and the artist Bonnie Camplin presented Usher We at Tate Modern in 2008, and her film Welcome to the Exhibition (2005) was screened in the Tanks as part of the symposium Performance Year Zero: A Living History in 2012.

Combining visual arts, theatre and performance, Olowska’s project is the latest in Tate Modern’s ongoing performance series BMW Tate Live. The BMW Tate Live programme explores the diverse ways in which artists approach live performance in the 21st Century, whether in the gallery or online. Throughout the programme artists collaborate across dance, film and other art forms. Now in its fourth year, BMW Tate Live is a major partnership between BMW and Tate, curated by Catherine Wood, Senior Curator, International Art (Performance), Tate Modern and Capucine Perrot, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. 

BMW Tate Live: Paulina Olowska is curated by Catherine Wood and Juliette Rizzi, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern and produced by Judith Bowdler, Production Co-ordinator, Tate Modern. 

Commissioned and produced as part of Corpus, network for performance practice. Corpus is Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), CAC Vilnius, KW (Berlin), If I Can’t Dance (Amsterdam), Playground (STUK & M, Leuven), and Tate Modern (London; as part of BMW Tate Live):
Corpus is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Paulina Olowska as part of BMW Tate Live at Tate Modern
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Tate Modern
September 7, 2015

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