You Can’t the Fire
21 September – 5 November
“In 1994, Fluxus artist Ben Vautier was invited to participate in an exhibition of work under the well-meaning if somewhat enervate banner of Artists Against Violence. He responded with a work that consisted of the curatorial invitation letter itself, with Vautier’s trademark scrawl painted over the top: “I am for violence. If you put my head under water and I cannot breathe, I shall try to put it out of the water with as much force as I have. I am against oppression, not fighting against oppression.” The curators, to their credit, exhibited Vautier’s reply in their show, alongside a series of automatic platitudes and truisms by nineteen other artists. (That the exhibition was funded by the Federal Association of German Banks, a lobby group made up of two hundred banks that have had most of the Global South and Eastern and Southern Europe held “under water” since its inception in the 1950s seems to be lost on everyone.)
You Can’t the Fire attempts to continue and develop Vautier’s conversation; to look at the notion of violence outside of Western bourgeois liberal apologia and its “all violence is bad” reflexes. Marxist historical materialism sees everything in a wide context; what is violence when it emanates from the oppressed? Clearly it isn’t the same thing as violence from the oppressor. What does it mean when we invalidate the tool and language of violence on behalf of the oppressed? Who gets to define the nature of violence? Is it just guns, tanks and bombs? Why are systemic starvation, incarceration and colonisation dismissed as acts of violence?
And as for the dancing… well, I just really like to dance.”
Kuba Dorabialski is an artist and educator originally from Wroclaw, Poland. He works primarily in video installation.
He’s interested the intersections of mysticism, radical leftist politics and the personal poetic; his tools are geography, language, dance and cinema history.
Kuba’s work has been exhibited in the US, Europe and Australia and several of his videos are in the Artbank collection. In 2021 his major work Invocation Trilogy was shown at Carriageworks in Sydney. In 2017, he won the John Fries Award with the video installation Floor Dance of Lenin’s Resurrection. In 2019, his work Glasses on My Nosetip won the Open category in the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award.
Kuba lives on Gadigal country in Sydney, Australia.