Singing Lesson I
December 17, 2010 — January 30, 2011
Artur Zmijewski's work grows out of a desire to connect art as directly as possible with reality and everyday life through the straightforward gaze of the documentary lens. More specifically, Zmijewski seeks to display individuals that for a variety of reasons live outside of the mainstream of conventional social norms. Many of these individuals suffer from physical conditions that limit their ability to function normally while others have become "invisible" either through institutionalized care or through society's unwillingness to validate their existence. Singing Lesson I (2001), was filmed inside the Augsburg-Evangelical chrusch in Warsaw, Poland, where Zmijewski put together a choir of hearing-impaired singers to perform "Kyrie" from The Polish Mass (1944), by the composer Jan Maklakiewicz (1899-1954). The Lutheran church, which is one of the largest in Warsaw, was constructed in the 18th centruy by Szymon Bogumil Zug. Renowned for its musical performances, the church was bombed and burned by the Germans on September 16, 1939, however it was rebuilt after the war with acoustic improvements a new organ. Within this overlay of historical signficance, Zmijewski creates a scenario in which deaf teenagers are allowed to "sing," thereby giving them an opportunity to break free from the physical limitations of their bodies. In Singing Lesson I, the artist seeks to correlate the tenacity and strength found in both the historical context of the Lutheran church, and the young singers who use a means of expression, until now, completely unavailable to them.