Artur Zmijewski (Poland)

80064, (2004), video, 11 minutes

I don’t create entertainment for the mass public. Seeing to the well-being and comfort of viewers isn’t my intention. I don’t care if someone gets a headache after watching this film. The world isn’t a safe place…’

Artur Zmijewski’s re-staging of the Stanford Prison Experiment Repetition was one of the three films presented in Part 1 of The Ethics of Encounter. The disturbing film 80064, the artist once again returns to the subject of power relations, this time coercing a 92 year –old Auschwitz survivor into having his identification tattoo refreshed, despite his clear protestations. The eleven-minute film adheres to a traditional documentary structure, taking the form of a two-part interview during which the detached artist calmly interrogates the subject, Jozef Tarnawa, about his experiences in the camp and his attitude towards his identification number. Anecdotes about the horrific abuses of Auschwitz and the inevitable submission of the prisoners are duly recounted before the artist insists on carrying out the ‘renovation’ of his tattoo. Tarnawa’s response conflates the artist’s position with that of the Auschwitz authorities: ‘I’d have never expected that something like this will happen to me again…that they would renew my number.’ Through this small-scale re-enactment, Zmijewski presents a ‘live’ interrogation of human responses to the exercise of authority that is reminiscent of the infamous social psychology experiments conducted by Stanley Milgrim in the 1960’s.

As with Zmijewski’s other video documentations, 80064 reveals his fascination with real bodies in a social space. By approaching politics through the body, violence (whether explicit or subcutaneous) regularly features is Zmijewski’s special brand of realism.

Courtesy of the Foksal Gallery Foundation

Artur Zmijewski's '80064' is currently showing at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh as part of Social Documents; The Ethics of Encounter, until March 6 2011.


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