Liberating Exercises in Polish Video Art Between 1985-1995
A screening of the works selected from the UKRYTA DEKADA / THE HIDDEN DECADE collection curated and introduced by Piotr Krajewski, artistic director WRO Art Center in the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius.
The Hidden Decade is a collection of works that are crucial to the history of Polish video art. The ten-year period from 1985 to 1995 was a remarkable era in Polish art: an era when new artistic approaches were taking shape – an era full of social, political and cultural transformation.
It started with dissent against the realities of Communist Poland, especially after the repressive martial-law period; it lead to the revolutionary changes of the 89 and to first years after the transformation. It started with individual explorations by a few scattered artists using a new medium – the electronic image – outside the boundaries of the established art institutions of their day; it ended with video art being recognized as a major field of contemporary fine arts.
The seriously flawed, unstable, static-ridden electronic technology available in the 1980s made video a startlingly appropriate medium for conveying a sense of what Poland was like in that era: The quality of the images accurately reflects not only the repressive obsoletism and enforced ordinariness of the period following martial law, but also the energy of the protest movement and the social ideals of the alternative activities taking place. This is particularly clear in video works that capture everyday life in combination with the artists’ avant-garde activities.
Video art from this period is remarkable for the rapid changes it goes through, the strongly-defined attitudes it represents, and the combination of extreme individualism with the formation of alternative communities. There is evident dissent against propaganda in the media – not only against the political propaganda of the Communist period, but also against capitalist-era consumerist pressures.
Józef Robakowski, Cinema is Power!, 1985, 7′
Marek Janiak (with Zbigniew Libera), Liberating Exercises, 1987, 11′
Igor Krenz, Walk or Drive, 1993/94, 7′
Adam Rzepecki, What Does an Aristocrat Wants a Small Fiat For, 1888, 3′
Wspólnota Leeeżeć [Lyyying Community], TAXI, 1990, 3′
Anna Janczyszyn, Into the City, 1993, 4′ /excerpt/
Mirosław E. Koch, The Cormorants: The Smoke Episode, 1991, 7′
Władysław Kaźmierczak, Crash, 1994, 9′
Łódź Kaliska, The Killing of Hindenburg, 1993 /excerpt/ 3′
Wojciech Zamiara, I don’t know + Mantra, 1992/93, 5′
Józef Robakowski, My Videomasohism, 1988/89, 5′
Piotr Wyrzykowski, The Runner, 1993, 6′
Alicja Żebrowska, Onone: A World After the World, 1995, 4′