The dream of perfect art capable of changing the world – one of the main postulates of the first avant-garde – has largely remained in the sphere of utopia. However, questioning the border between everyday life and art triggered a process that has turned reality into the main field of artistic activity.

In an attempt to visualise art development, Jerzy Ludwiński proposed a model based on an ever-expanding structure which sometimes moves slowly, and sometimes rushes forward. In the 1960s, this model began to expand dramatically until it finally exploded, leading to the identification of art with reality. The clash between the two moved the entire struggle for new art to fields delineated by social, political or ideological relations.

Ludwiński’s observation that art of the future would increasingly blur its boundaries and increase its field, aiming at full connection with reality, was more than just an expression of working through the ambitions of the historical avant-garde by the neo-avant-garde – it is also reflected in contemporary artistic search.

The exhibition titled Marta’s Birthday, which initiates the Private Mythologies project, is intended to study these relations. It departs from a linear arrangement in order to emphasise the right to artistically express that which is individual, intimate or private, although socially determined. The narrative of the exhibition is based on three general areas. The first one is connected with memory and history, at the level of both preserving past traces and reinterpreting more or less distant realities. The second area concerns the agency of art and its entanglement in utopias, ideologies and social engagement. The third area is related to experiments that determine the individual experience of identity and social interactions, constituting a peculiar method of analysing not only existential issues, but any structures in which we operate or which we question.

The title of the first instalment of the project – Marta’s Birthday – is a direct reference to the 1976 film by the Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu, which is presented at the exhibition. Focusing on the story of a family celebration, the film is an example of turning towards the private and analysing an individual’s entanglement in the socio-political context, which is a characteristic features of Grigorescu’s art – and, more broadly, of a number of artists from Central and Eastern Europe living at the time. Both in the film and at the exhibition, privacy is a key factor of sensitising to the surrounding reality.