Katarzyna Kozyra (bio)

Looking for Jesus. Library

The starting point of the project Looking for Jesus. Library was a fascination with the cultural-religious phenomenon known as ‘Jerusalem syndrome’. The artist has always been interested in the question of identity and the role others play in constructing or erasing it. In the case of people marked by this syndrome, Kozyra encountered a problem expressed in the question posed by her characters: is there a strong blocking mechanism of denial standing in the way of finding our own identity, introduced into our experience by the ego? And by the Others representing it, with their dictates of single-channel narratives, of which the Man of Nazareth is a contradiction?

The beginning of the filming, the recording of conversations and scenes is characterised by the curiosity of the artist looking for a figure confronting Jesus among her interlocutors. Over time, this curiosity gives way to a strong attachment to people and an attempt to define their relationship with herself. What was meant to be an investigation becomes a mutual ‘search for faces’ — suddenly the entire project becomes a diary of the artist’s journey, an attempt to find herself in a world we don’t generally encounter AND giving up on the popular clichés of cultural-religious kitsch. A story of lack and craving. Silent in her films, Jesus appears against the backdrop of the incidents and narratives of his ‘apostles’ — they are the ones who speak and act, authorised by the Messiah, an invisible energy which they fondly describe as a consuming fire or light.

At this point, relationships are established for which descriptions of the usual aesthetic form are no longer sufficient. The story completes itself, revealing a new and unexpected horizon. It becomes a library — not of a problem, but of slowly growing volumes — introducing an expanded space of reading, before which the splendour of the museum and the gallery, with their age-old ideal of sterile contemplation, must yield. 

The images become books, and their totality, in turn, is also the The Book, the mythical one that Stéphane Mallarmé once told us about. 

The transition to the format of the project as a Library had to be combined with a reduction in exhibition space. In this way, the artist expresses the need to purify the field of glamour in a ‘time of vanity’, while articulating her desire to say goodbye to the ‘myth of exhibition’ in favour of a personal and collective reading.

curator: Andrzej Wajs

Looking for Jesus. Library

01.12.2022 – 05.02.2023

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

curator: Andrzej Wajs

collaboration: Emilia Sobczuk

exhibition production: Anna Muszyńska, Karolina Jezierska-Pomorska, Dominika Kaszewska, Michał Kubiak

directed by Katarzyna Kozyra

camera: Jakub Burakiewicz, Katarzyna Kozyra, Pinas Matan, Piotr Niemyjski, Katarzyna Szumska, Piotr Wacowski, Shlomit Yaacov, Yaniv Yur

sound: Krzysztof Baradziej, Maryla Kłosowska, Katarzyna Kozyra, Nitzan Levi, Shlomit Yaacov, Yaniv Yur

editing: Ewa Łuczak, Bartek Pietras, Mirek Szewczyk

web design: Michał Szota

project supported along the years by Erika Hoffmann; Joerg von Weiler; Atlas Sztuki, Łódź; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel-Aviv; Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation; Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland; Momentum The Global Platform for Time-Based-Art; Polish Institute, Tel-Aviv; W&W a Services Limited Liability Company, Żak Branicka Foundation

front page text: Andrzej Wajs, front page photo: Katarzyna Szumska