WRO Sound Basis Visual Art Festival
1989, December 4th – 10th
WRO’s Sound Basis Visual Art Festival in December 1989 has been the first review of media art and interdisciplinary actions in Poland, organized beyond the official cultural institutions and free of censorship. The idea had been carried out by an independent group of avant-garde art creators, researchers, and enthusiasts – the Open Studio WRO, created by Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska, Piotr Krajewski, Zbigniew Kupisz, and Lech Janerka. The pioneering formula of the festival had been based on the presentation of art connecting image and sound created through the use of electronic media.
At the time electronic art had been virtually unknown in Poland. Video equipment and computers were seen as something more closely associated with soon-to-be commercialized science projects or even science-fiction, rather than means of artistic creation.
In the legendary Czarny Salon (the black space that had once housed Grotowski’s Theatre), WRO opened the Laboratorium Gallery, where shows and performances were given with the use of video screens (one of the only two available in Poland at that time) and electronic equipment.
The performance by the group Kormorany, Cucumber Opera, that had been given in a desolate and defunct water tower Na Grobli has become legendary. Bulat Galeyev, a student and collaborator of Leon Theremin, the legendary genius inventor and composer, came from Russia to present his invention – a light effects generator.
Theremin, even though he was over 90 years old then, had still been banned from leaving the Soviet Union since the 1930s.
Centre Georges Pompidou presented a video program prepared especially for WRO. After years of isolation, Wroclaw had been visited by almost a 100 artists from all over the world – from Australia and Japan, through the entire Europe, to the Americas.
Additionally, important artistic institutions of the western world have made an appearance. The following facts, along with the stir the festival had caused have been noted by the press and the TV.
The phenomenon of electronic art and WRO, the first Polish festival to be focused on showing it, was given a lot of media attention.
Cecile Babiole, who had received the first prize in the international competition for Menagerie, turned out to be a huge media success.
Festival’s highlights were shown on the National TV news. Channel 2 of the Polish National TV had prepared an extensive report on the event. Daily press as well as trade magazines such as FILM and niche computer magazines published information about WRO. Abroad, reviews had been published by a popular Berlin magazine TIP and by Radio I Telewizja, (Radio and TV) a monthly magazine published in the Soviet Union (still in existence at that time).
Immediately after WRO 89 had closed, the screening of its most interesting works had began. In early 1990 the museum of Art in Łódź organized a three day screening by the courtesy of Urszula Czartoryska(a Polish art historian known for her publications such as From pop-art to conceptual art). This has been the very first of many transfers and the beginning of the WRO On Tour project, which continues to function to this day.
Extensive presentations of the works by Polish artists were shown in France, Brazil, Germany, and Denmark marking the beginning of future collaborations between WRO and the rest of the world.
COMPETITION & AWARDS
All of the 162 submitted works were presented
Isabelle Seigneur (FR)
Erwan Depenanster (FR)
Andrzej Kołodyński (PL)
Piotr Krajewski (PL)
Anatoly Prokhorov (ZSRR)
Michael Scroggins (USA)
Stefan Szczypka (PL)
Menagerie, Cecile Babiole (FR, 1986)
Dokąd prowadzi ta droga, Jan Brzuszek (PL, 1989)
Raj 69, Mirosław Koch (PL)
O, Rafał Bogusławski (PL)
Drehmoment, Hanno Baethe (RFN)
Terry Flaxton (USA), Norbert Meissner (RFN), Axel Möckel (RFN), Krzysztof Skarbek (PL),
Annaliese Varaldiev (USA), Magdalena Borkiewicz (PL), Andrzej Bronikowski (PL)