The Folie/Culture artist-in-residence program—a unique approach to the artist residency, that we call artiste assigné à résidence—takes place over a one-year period. For these 12 months, an artist is invited to create work centred on our theme, in the form of derived objects, commentaries, critiques, tap dance solos, medium-length films, fictional texts, tarot readings, experimental cuisine, Wiki pages, street art, performances, video games, or any other supplement, whatever form it may take. Throughout the residency, the artist is ensured all the support and promotion necessary to share a post-studio practice. In other words, the artist will not be tied to a predetermined production site or bound to one particular space. This year, Folie/Culture welcomes Paul Kawczak as its artist in residence.
The French expression for “under house arrest” is “assigné à résidence.” The homophony here with artist-in-residence invites a conceptual juxtaposition worth considering. Being under house arrest means an individual must remain at home and under surveillance. In fact, house arrest is a punishment that is not exclusive to criminals: it is suffered by a whole array of individuals who have to remain at home for economic or mental health reasons. The notion of the art residency, on the other hand, is generally understood in a far more positive light. It is a process focused on celebration, sometimes representing the very pinnacle of an artist’s career. Folie/Culture’s artiste assigné à résidence program mingles the two concepts: it serves as an occasion for an artist to question the notion of isolation involved in being assigné à résidence, while creating and sharing projects and work.
This program is therefore double-edged, holding both the promise of withdrawal and the threat of isolation. Being the artiste assigné à résidence is both a privilege and a punishment, a one-year sentence of freedom during which the artist selected, in conjunction with Folie/Culture, will carry out projects the nature and location of which are of the artist’s choosing. This daunting opportunity is not without its obligations: the artist must present and disseminate their work under the watchful eye of the dual custodians of the residency: Folie/Culture, and the theme itself.
Paul Kawczak [kavzak] left his continent and country to put five thousand kilometres of water between him and his past. The thing is, ghosts couldn’t care less about water. They quietly found their way back to him. So, what is Paul Kawczak doing now? Well, he looks like a fool, he tries to build a life for himself, however he can. Since he utterly despises work, he focuses on things he finds interesting to earn a living. Because, of course, everybody has to make a living. Paul Kawczak is no heir to a wealthy family. He is no thrust fund baby. Therefore, he works as an editor at La Peuplade. Their people treat him well. They respect him. He appreciates that. Also, Paul Kawczack is a creator. He writes books. He wrote two (L’extincteur adoptif, Moult Éditions, 2015 and Un long soir, La Peuplade, 2017). He plans on publishing a novel entitled Ténèbre in 2020 (yes, Ténèbre without an –s, he says it looks mystical). He also had a founderground (both underground and foundered) career as a singer. It didn’t quite work out, but the spiritual energy was present and strong (https://paulkawczak.bandcamp.com/). He drew for a while, and he plans on drawing again one day. Lately, he started to dabble into performance art, creating sorts of real fake conferences, moments of multidirectional sharing and speech. He also flirts with the other side of art, the side of discourse and theory. The guy has a PhD in Literature; he teaches a few art and literature classes at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and he writes about art and literature in several journals (Spirale, LQ, Nuit blanche, Zone Occupée). Paul Kawczak is sitting between two stools. Most definitely.
I, Paul Kawczak, have to say frankly: Filliou’s sentence, “Art is what makes life more interesting than art,” is not stupid at all. Art, creation as an end… What do I think about that? It’s a load of rubbish! Nonsense! Haha! You must be joking! Oh, my poor man! It implies freezing up! Aiming for the beauty of the image, the beauty of the artist status which is only obtained if we strike a pose to live a beautiful and perfect moment, just as we learned from images. Oh no, my poor woman! It doesn’t work that way. No! I, Paul Kawczak, agree with Filliou: we are not here to be bored stiff, we are here to flow smoothly, like shit flows through an ass, for a brief and beautiful erotic moment, no more no less. And then, we feel like living a movie. And then, life is soft as silk on a baby’s bottom ! My approach is rather simple: eating well and collecting the shit flowing out. Shit is food for flowers. And flowers are beautiful. Eating has different meanings. Eating is absorbing things from the world and digesting them to live a little longer. Reading, in fact, can also mean eating. Seeing, watching, hearing, listening… is also eating. Licking a vulva is also eating, living a little longer. And going to the movies is going to Church, something as old as Plato’s cave. Am I, Paul Kawczak, doing good at eating and creating and living a little longer? I’m doing the best I can, sir! And with all I’ve got, madam! I put my heart into it, I have visions… So here it is: first comes sincerity, this thing that we hide and that is more interesting than what we show, although it is positively useless. A luxury, in sum. A childish thing. A privilege. A gun shot. A monkey farting. Grief and the need of others.