Daniel Kotowski

(b. 1993, lives in Warsaw) is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts, the School of Looking in the Fort Institute of Photography, and the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology (all in Warsaw). He is an author of performances, installations, photographs, objects, and videos, and has recently directed a theatre show, Love Ritual. He conducts educational workshops and meetings in sign language in cultural institutions. In his practice, Kotowski is informed by the personal experience of deafness and incompleteness. From the perspective of a minority, he takes up the topics of alienation, social communication, and community building.

Untitled, 2021, video, 4’3’’, courtesy of the artist

Hands play a very important role in communication. The movements performed with them are most often transmitted and received on an unconscious level, especially when accompanying a conversation. But some gestures are made intentionally, with full awareness of the consequences. Since hands catch the eye and can replace speech, several dozen universal gestures have been developed in the course of the development of civilization. They are understood almost everywhere in the world, regardless of national languages or their dialects. In the video, the hands make an ordinary gesture. The interpretation of this movement has not been determined by the artist, but is intentionally left for the audience to form on a free-association basis.
[text from the artist’s website: danielkotowski.com]

A Man Who Cannot Speak Is No Man, 2020, video, 1’3’’, courtesy of the artist

Kotowski takes inspiration from Mladen Stilinović’s An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is no Artist (1992) to speak, like him, about exclusion, but from the perspective of deaf people. In 1992, the Croatian artist drew attention to what we consider commonplace today – the domination of the English language in the global art world. Kotowski is also interested in the domination of one way of communicating – the use of spoken language. The artist uses a false sign in his work, styling it to resemble a sign-language word. In fact, the multiplied gesture is an arrogant or rude act that expresses a disrespectful attitude towards someone else’s speech. This is a sign that everyone recognizes.

The work provokes a discussion about the limits of visibility and audibility of people whose senses (sight, hearing and others) function in a disturbed manner. How can a voice that is very quiet fight for its own place in the discussion and in the world? How to build new meeting and communication platforms, not reliant on the old exclusive models?

[text by Michał Grzegorzek, from the artist’s website: danielkotowski.com]

Photo:  A Man Who Cannot Speak Is No Man, 2020, video still, courtesy of the artist


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