Exhibition / “And Warren Niesłuchowski was there”

Exhibition dates: 11 October–14 November 2020
Location: Cabinet Berlin, Ebersstrasse 3, 10827 Berlin (map and directions here)

A tribute in the form of an exhibition and a book
Organized and edited by Joanna Warsza and Sina Najafi

Book published by Cabinet Books and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, in partnership with Foksal Gallery Foundation

Photo Chloe Piene.

Our friend Warren Niesłuchowski passed away on 17 June 2019. One of the most eccentric, charismatic, and yet discreet, figures in the art world, Niesłuchowski was at once an ontological nomad, a polyglot translator, an autodidact and polymath, an attentive companion of artists, a networker without status, a walking bibliography, and an accidental witness to the most important events.

Niesłuchowski was born Jerzy, later George or “Jeż,” to Polish parents in 1946 in a displaced persons camp near Munich. Five years later, his family emigrated to the United States, where they found themselves in New Bedford, Massachusetts. From this early experience of dislocation and migration, he forged an utterly unique life.

In 1968, after being drafted to go to Vietnam, George deserted the army and fled the country for Paris. There, a lucky encounter with a friendly Englishman named Warren who loaned him his passport meant that he could continue to evade the US government. Before long, George, now Warren, had joined the Bread and Puppet theater company on their trip to Iran. From that point on, travel and displacement were to be the only permanent features in Warren’s life, and this drive toward a peripatetic life was to find its full expression in the last sixteen years of his life, after he gave up his apartment in 2003 and began to live entirely as a guest of others on both sides of the Atlantic—looking as he moved from place to place for what he called “an imaginary adoption.”

The core of the exhibition and publication will be a selection from Warren’s email correspondence from this nomadic period, bearing witness to his role as a steadfast companion to others. Full of erudition, congeniality, and translinguistic twists, the emails are also marked by the practicalities of travel and the necessity of always finding the next host. The project examines the inheritance of being homeless by birth and by choice, and how Warren balanced different notions of hospitality, often becoming a tactful second host instead of a mere guest. What emerges is a portrait of someone who led a radical, transcultural, and transnational existence in which art and life were no longer distinguishable from one another.


Email correspondence generously shared by:
Adam Szymczyk
Agnieszka Taborska and Marcin Giżycki
Alexander Nagel
Amanda Trager and Erik Moskowitz
Andrzej Przywara
Bettina Funcke
Bruno Pajaczkowski
Carol Szymanski and Barry Schwabsky
Chloe Piene
Claire Pajaczkowska and Barry Curtis
Dominik Lejman
Elka Krajewska
Jackie Pine and Andre Mirabelli
Jeff Preiss
Jennifer Croft
Joan Jonas
Joanna Klass
Joanna Mytkowska
Joanna Warsza
Kasia Korczak and Payam Sharifi
Katarzyna Szotkowska-Beylin
Katy Bentall
Krzysztof Wodiczko
Lisa Blas and Thierry de Duve
Mary Niesłuchowska
Michael Taussig
Milada Ślizińska
Raymond Pettibon
Rebecca Quaytman
Richard Wentworth
Roger Malbert
Seton Smith
Simon Leung
Sina Najafi
Yvette Mattern
Zuzanna Janin
(list in progress)

Managing editor: Joanna Szulc
Graphic design: Józefina Chętko

An obituary by Joanna Warsza is available here.