In 1966 Jerzy Ludwiński, art historian, critic, theoretician and curator, described in the essay titled ‘The Bubble with Painting’ a new spontaneous and unofficial artist movement, demonstrated in the number of conventions, meetings, conferences, plein-airs and other sessions held throughout what was then called People’s Republic of Poland.
However, some of the people involved were expressing a belief that the admired spontaneity was in fact pre-arrangement. Just like Anastazy Wiśniewski did through the act of establishing the Centre for Artistic Silence in the framework of Nonexistent Nodding Gallery ‘YES’, which he founded together with Leszek Przyjemski in 1970.
Two years later they organized ‘Individual Meetings’, in reference to the meetings for candidates for The Polish United Workers’ Party. Applicants were interviewed one at time in the room covered with a fabric alike Polish national flag, and completely jammed by the sound of ‘L’Internationale’.
Leszek Przyjemski (b. 1942), one of the leading Polish artists who contested the official system of art in communist Poland in the 70s., during 1st International Nonexistenting Galleries Congress in Brzezno by Gdańsk put forward the idea of the Museum of Hysterics 1968–1975. Concept of establishing Museum was born a few years before, in June 12th, 1968 when Przyjemski graduated from the Art School, and to celebrate this fact he drowned a puppet dressed in the suit, with his MA diploma in the pocket.
Since then Museum of Hysterics, the metamuseum in a way, is possible to explore, and visit with ones imagination, it is giving the most extreme idea for what we could recognize as an artist-run-space.
Above images courtesy of CoCA in Torun.
In a way a follower of Przyjemskis’ self-management, who devoted himself to DIY philosophy and alternative strategies is an artist born in 1977 Janek Simon. Trained in sociology, as well as psychology, an author of the ‘Polish Year in Madagascar’ (2006) the first exhibition of contemporary Polish art in this country, without actual works by Polish artists, but with some pieces by Romanian, Bulgarian, Czech and Slovakian creators, instead.
By the act of not choosing any fellows, Simon – the self-proclaimed one-man Foreign Affairs Department – aped official cultural policy strategies based on the posh, but at the same time very poor and unproductive events. To emphasize his perverse gesture, and to bring it to another level of international competition he rented as an exhibition space a spot in the Goethe-Zentrum neighborhood.
In 2011 Simon produced in a 400 square meters gallery space the 3D visualization of the Polish ‘State Budget for Year 2010’. The artist through translating national economy issues into arts language is again playing with an understanding of the boundaries between aesthetic and politic. On the one hand this act could be understood as a call for the civil society to have a closer look into what was reserved for specialized eyes only, but on the other hand is it true that contemporary arts vocabulary is easier for a average citizen then economy.
Simon is also one of the founder members of cooperative Goldex Poldex which ‘acts in the Pi-sector of cultural production, in the unexplored fractional dimension with no intend to collaborate with neither public institutions nor the art market. It seeks no sponsors and no patronage.’ Unlike Przyjemski, who was practicing resistance against socialism, Simon is in opposition to capitalism and what he calls grant-art.
Honza Zamojski (b.1981) an author of drawings, video art, spatial objects including ready-mades, curator and the owner of publishing house MORAVA, represents an individualistic approach, with a perspective based on the micro rather than macro politics.
For his graduation he edited and designed book titled ‘We Came From Beyond/We Go Far Beyond’, which combines statements of young artists and curators on search for the answer ‘Why I’m doing this, and for whom?’, with an exhibition catalog format.
He is interested in the human motivation for creation, as well as exploring history thought private stories, what he demonstrates in the books ‘Jak jsem potkal d’abla’ (awarded in 2011 on Best Book Design from all over the World in Lipsk), and ‘Rymy jak Dymy’. All mentioned publications create a kind of unusual trilogy, which as a whole tells a story of ones development as an artist, poet, and citizen.
In 2011 Zamojski curated BOOKIE – a show devoted to redefining a self-publishing practices with a printed matter never presented in Poland before, e.g. by David Horvitz and Rick Myers artbooks, conceptual fanzines of the Institute of Social Hypocrisy or books by the Slavs and Tatars. Zamojski beside being an enterprising distributor, and promoter of printed matter by artists in Poland, is also a member of Starter Association – the body which had operated the gallery under the same name from 2007 until 2011 in Poznań as an artists’-and-curators’-run-space.
For over three years of its activity, Starter held over 50 shows of 72 artists in about 200 square meters abandoned apartment in Art Nouveau building.
Above images courtesy of Honza Zamojski and Leto Gallery.
I’m interested in the socialist past influence on Polish contemporary cultural policy, the lasting for years People’s Republic of Poland struggle against any independent enterprise and its, in my opinion, negative impact on the self-supported initiatives development nowadays. Tools used in this conflict were modified legislation, fines beyond ones capabilities, and corruption, as well as denying access to the higher education for craftsman’s children, and finally though language (number of derogatory epithets was invented at this time).
For the Alternative Art Guide I selected artists who present various approaches from imaginary, through activist, to intimate autobiographical narrations in the term of artist-run-spaces and mentalities.
Born in 1981 in Tarnów, Poland. Graduate in Cultural, Gender and Museum Curatorial Studies. 2008-2011 a curator at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Torun (CoCA). Selected exhibitions: ‘Berlegustopol’ curated with Michał Woliński, Piktogram/BLA in Warsaw, 2011, with: Yomar Augusto, Henryk Berlewi, Edward Hartwig, Fontarte, Polex-Expol, Zuo Corp; ‘Tag! Base! Hide& Seek!’ curated with Joanna van der Zanden, CoCA in Torun, 2010, with: Dinie Besems, Cynthia Hathaway, Guy Keulemans, Bartosz Mucha, Leonard van Munster, Eric von Robertson, Suzuki Affice; ‘The Past is a Foreign Country’ curated with Aleksandra Kononiuk, CoCA in Torun, 2009, with: Johanna Billing, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Banu Cennetoğlu, Šejla Kamerić, Deimantas Narkevičius, Agnieszka Polska, Jasper Rigole, Slavs and Tatars, Jutta Strohmaier, Levi van Veluw, Ingrid Wildi, Krzysztof Zieliński, Edwin Zwakman.