Chosen aspects of Adam Rzepecki’s work from the years 1979-1989
Performance for Photography
There was a moment in the early ’80s when Adam Rzepecki was sitting in front a photo camera, holding at the height of his crotch a trumpet with an inserted rubber mute. As air would run out of the trumpet, it’s sound would dwindle. The camera, set on auto-timer, would document this mini performance. But it didn’t end there. Standing in front of the camera Rzepecki would start to play the flute to which he had attached earlier a balloon. As air would gradually dwindle away from the balloon so would the sound of the instrument. During this originally imaginative photo session the artist would place himself to the side of the camera and blow into a condom. He would then pin a furry tail upon his trousers, first on his front side, then on his backside. With all his strength he would then wrap his head with some rope and start moving his head all about. He would take off the rope and start squeezing his head with two clamps and laced boots. Finally he would stand bare-chested and while looking straight into the camera squeeze his nipples so hard until they would become more visible.
The documentation of this performance for photography was shown for the first time by Rzepecki at the Jaszczury Photo Gallery1 in March of 1981 during an exhibition by Łódź Kaliska2, a group with whom he would be associated with for many years to come3. The aforementioned exhibition at the Jaszczury Photo Gallery was a premiere public showing of joint performances for photo by Łódź Kaliska.
This was of course not the first joint presentation of these artists’ works4. Although it should be noted that it was the first time that their documented photos of performances, which they’ve been creating since the end of the ’70s and consisted of games at the cusp of sincerity and farce, would be presented,5. This specific kind of strategy, or rather irrational creative principle I should say, revealed itself for the first time in the early works of the group in the form of a criticism towards conceptual means of analysing the photographic medium.
Rzepecki co-founded the Łódź Kaliska group at its point of inception in September of 1979 at a plein air in Darłowo6. Already in its early stages the group’s activities could be seen to have a distinctive strategy. Even though the works of its members would refer to a joint initiative, the independent originality of each would nevertheless be maintained. In their work Łódź Kaliska drew attention to the ambiguous nature of the perception of reality. The use of photography, which all members were associated with, was very helpful towards this. An example of this kind of practice can be seen in the works of artists that would eventually become members of Łódź Kaliska and who would join forces with the group for the first time at the plein air in Bałtów7. These pictures were shown for the first time at an exhibition at the Jaszczury Photo Gallery in January of 1980 8.
During this aforementioned plein air Janiak, Repecki and Świetlik would stroll about Bałtów from one end of the town to the other while taking pictures. The series of pictures that ensued – and were subsequently presented in the exhibition’s catalogue – would show the originality, the uniqueness, and the individuality of each of these artists’ perception of reality. Rzepecki’s work in that catalogue consisted of pictures taken of one side of a street, with each subsequent picture containing a fragment of a previously registered frame. With this the artist wanted to demonstrate the insufficient ability of photography to present reality outside the single frame, as the frame in effect would delimitate what had been seen. The synthesis of Rzepecki’s walks was presented on the cover of the catalogue with two pictures showing the nameplates of Bałtów; one as one would enter the town, one as one would leave it.
The works that were presented at the exhibition and taken from the first joint plein-airs did not contain the characteristic ironic humour and provocation so prevalent in Łódź Kaliska’s subsequent actions 9. Rather, they could be attributed to a trend in analytical and sociological photography, which was quite popular at that time in Poland and abroad as well10. From the beginning however, nonetheless they tried to create their own formulas in terms of photography and art overall11. Łódź Kaliska’s practice gained a characteristic expression only after the plein air in Świeszyno, where Rzepecki was officially invited and had brought along some of his col leagues12. During this event, disgusted by the prevailing snoot atmosphere, these young artists would create performances imbued with irony, which would eventually serve as a basis for their pseudo-conceptual photos.
At that plein air, they would jump from kiddy ladders, describing the action in accompanying documentation as Levitation. They would wade across water, giving it the title On a Walk. They would sit on an overturned boat in an action entitled Nothing. They would stand on a rescue tower by a lake, calling the action The Study of a Tower’s Strength. They would take pictures of each other standing behind a garbage can in the action entitled Algorithms. They would simulate homoerotic group sex, calling the action The Sausage.
It’s also at that plein air that Rzepecki decided to hold a brick for eight hours within the context of a performance entitled Concerning an Eight Hour Day. As he would explain for years to come, this action was meant as a criticism abouts the laziness he was noticing in the works of the artists that had been invited to the event. He wanted to show them an example of a work that was fully undertaken within each passing hour13. During his „work” break, Janiak and Kwietniewski would piss on the grass. All of this was documented with photos.
This action undertaken in Świeszyno as well as a
documentation Rzepecki created individually in Kraków entitled Male and Other Art, both reminiscent of trends in conceptual photography, would be ironic commentaries as to the seriousness of art, as well as its representatives. It wasn’t after all a matter of simple games14.
Despite the violent attacks towards the representatives of artistic ideals, Rzepecki and his colleagues would still treat art seriously. Jarosław Lubiak expressed this most recently as the negation of a corrupted avant-garde towards the liberation of a sincere avant-garde15. In distinguishing themselves from their older fellow older artists, the members of Łódź Kaliska were able to maintain a certain healthy distance from the world of art. They did see a value in conceptual art, however what sickened them was the conventionality that was prevailing in artistic actions, as well as works that were created with a certain kind of mannerism. Thus, with a certain sense of irony that they would approach the adopted poses of their older colleague artists. Łódź Kaliska wasn’t the only outfit challenging problematic avant garde conventions at the end of the ’70s. A lot of other people at that time were presenting their own critical analyses of then current achievements in avant-garde16. The artists of Łódź Kaliska would not only however stood out by the citical work, or their written manifestos, or their contesting of artistic actions, but also, and therein lied their originality, in their willingness to transgress artistic limits of creativity. They defined their provocative activities not so much as Dada or contestations for the sake of contestations, but rather as a “constructive anarchy”, a plane of misunderstanding between artists towards the transgression of their own limits, a non-art”17. As it was sometimes the case, the slogans that they would formulate at the beginning of their practice would eventually find consistency in subsequent future actions.
The provocative nature of Łódź Kaliska was very close in nature to the work of Andrzej Partum, to whom one of the earlier issues of their publication was dedicated18. It is worth remembering this extraordinary person when thinking about Łódź Kaliska, even if he was treated by them with a sense of humour, they did appreciate the zeal with which he manifested himself in the world of art, not only in the avant-garde, but also the rudiments of contemporary culture. It’s quite possible that younger artists were inspired by Partum’s manifestos19. Above all it was his public appearances that had impressed the group the most20.
In the beginning of the ’80s Partum presented at the Labirynt Gallery in Lublin21 his Animal Manifesto22, later to be published by the Art Forum Gallery in Łódź – that same gallery where Łódź Kaliska had exhibited their own works. In it he condemns science and technology’s uncritical approach when striving towards a categorising of the world into apparent order, which consequently, he believes, will lead to the creation of a hyperslaughterhouse. Partum also pays attention to the risks of consumerist society in the world. He also refers to distinctions between man and animal, in that the progress of society is concurrent with the destruction of the body, of what is natural and animal in the human. Finally he comes to the dramatic conclusion that one’s animalistic and naturalistic side can only be experienced at the very point of dying. He also wrote that thought
upon life nowadays only comes out of a random postulate that the “self” comes into contact. Partum believed that man had the means of reaching the experience of reality, of being in life, only by freeing himself from the chaos of evolution, and thereby going back to an older way of thinking. He came to realise that mankind is condemned to function in a reality that he has created by the very means of his own mind. He believed that man would be able to get in contact with the utopia of his mind only if he were an animal of enormous density of matter – like the theoretical (astronomical) black holes, out of which new galaxies as born – and only then would he be able to escape that undefined gravitational pull of the chaos of evolution and thereby return to the ancient ancestors where new ideal goals would have the chance to be undertaken anew. When writing: the happiness within you is that you don’t know me yet23, he observed that the comfort of life is only but an illusion.
The desire to escape the chaos of evolution, out of which the avant-garde would be born, provoked radical activities to be brought upon by various artists, including Łódź Kaliska, albeit in a direct and ironic way. Their approach was revealed in the beginning by means of manifestations. Out of these should be mentioned the Manifestos of Idiotic Art I and II, as well as the Manifesto of Embarrassing Art written by Janiak and Kwietniewski24, wherein the following was expressed:
1. Idiotic art should not be created out of one’s own request 2. To create idiotic art, having consensus of others is usually sufficient 3. Idiotic art doesn’t fit into any concepts of other forms of arts 4. Only idiotic art is real art 5. A difference in opinions is a necessary condition in creating this art In the Manifesto of Idiotic Art II they described the worldviews hidden behind what would characterise such works: — disdain for routine, ignorance of ethics (personal behaviour and courtesy) — indulgence towards aesthetics, philosophy, science — weariness of logic’s emptiness — the undoing of others by ‘others’ — the fatigue with discovering and searching for universals — contempt for the pretentious, ostentatious, demonstrative sensitivity of the artist — blabberings at openings — always playing the fashionable game — the reluctance to obtain enlightening information — it can be a game — the reluctance to seek references — the respect for others — not forcing oneself — nor giving oneself in to expansions of other artists — the respecting of one’s own emotions and feelings — idiotic dreams of independence — a moment, a breathe, to be — for those that haven’t assigned themselves a role to play in life — only by idiots is it conceived as a provocation —
The Manifestos of Idiotic Art I and II would be a kind of ridiculous praise for the inconsistant, but also, as pointed out by Lubiak, hidden within them would be concealed a deeper ontological sense25. The artists of Łódź
Kaliska aspired towards a general freedom of being and their ephemeral artistic actions would lead them to it. Only through momentary events
would one be able to experience the essence of existence. The rest was a big farce26. The members of Łódź Kaliska strived for liberation with full commitment and embarrassment knowing very well that freedom could only be temporary, and that total freedom was in fact impossible27. They realised that the most important driving force of art was freedom, while at the same time its liberating activities had to be turned into a farce28. Concerning their next manifesto entitled Embarrassing Art (art that embarrasses, embarrassment as art)29, which can be regarded as a compliment to the earlier presented theory of artistic creativity, Janiak wrote:
— E.A. might turn itself against cultural agreements (perhaps mainly ethic awareness) — E.A throws out “intellectual reality” + emotions found at the surface, which are equivalent to official ways of thinking, in other words presentational and communicational ways of thinking. — E.A might be perhaps embarrassing because of its sincerity and violation towards that so-called taboo that is secrecy (privacy), as you struggle with that imposed ‘necessity’ of mental functioning in society, while constantly being coerced towards adapting to it. — E.A takes place between individuals. — E.A. the following terms pertain to it: a failure, trivial stupidity, uninteresting, secondary, banal, indifferent, unconstructive, obvious, incoherent, bad, embarrassing, carefree, none, plagiarism, vague, week, primitive, thoughtless, mixing concepts, disorganised, not much. — E.A. cannot be taken in quotation marks. — E.A. is negated by culture. — E.A. is embarrassing because (perhaps only because so) it causes embarrassment, as well as brings in (but barely) embarrassment within the sphere of art. — E.A. is not pejorative. Annex: I reserve myself the exclusive rights to include the works of other artists to the collection of works that are deemed embarrassing30.
As a member of Łódź Kaliska, Rzepecki accepted the contents of these manifestos presented by his fellow artists, however never would sign his name under any of them. He himself didn’t write any manifestos. He preferred to express himself in short form, with very meaningful slogans, voiced loudly during various events. He would write these in different places, on walls, on banners, in people’s homes, in magazines, or places more or less open to the public. An example of this can be a short and extremely eloquent slogan that Rzepecki wrote for the first time on the pavilion building of the area where a plein air was taking place in Osieki in 1981 31. The slogan expressed the following:
From now on I pretend to be an artist, Rzepecki, 09.09.81
Before this intervention, as well as a number of other ones realised at
one of the most famous avant-garde plein-airs near Koszalin, members of the Łódź Kaliska group would meet in Kraków to create one of the most important actions in the history of the group.
7 Days to Create the World
During an organised meeting entitled Siedem dni na stworzenie świata [Seven Days to Create the World]32, Łódź Kaliska would attempt to realise in practice the ideas that had been contained in their previous actions and manifestos as acts of rebellion against a creatively constraining ubiquitous farce33. During the week young artists would develop strategies upon other people’s actions and then apply these in practice, in a live context, at the already mentioned plein air event in Osieki. This strategy would prove to be remarkably effective in the future, after the introduction of Martial Law. It will not be an exaggeration to say here that Łódź Kaliska’s way of working contributed significantly to shaping the nature of the alternative movement that was to be called Pitch-in Culture [Pitch-in Culture]34.
The experience of Seven Days was fundamental for all the members of the group. In organising this event, already over a month earlier basic assumptions had been formulated in a planned meeting in Kraków35. Janiak and Kwietniewski described the activities of this project as follows.
I. 1. The Creation of the World was a complete re-exploration of the creator as seen from outside his consciousness. 2 The consciousness (the creative potential) of each one of us, individually as much as collectively, is equal to its capacity. 3. Our world is just as good. 4. Our actions are related to our slogan title, however specifically it refers to an earlier undertaken battle entitled “Concerning an Eight Hour Day”. II 1. Łódź Kaliska will create seven days a week, eight hours a day 2. We will operate with the help of manual and electro-mechanic techniques, utilising all possible spheres of creation. 3. Each artist can arbitrary interfere once the creative process has started (the action undertaken) 4. Is there a possibility of creating new consciousness? 5. A lady came to the doctor’s.
Adam Rzepecki on the other hand complemented the conceptions of the
actions, by writing: The creation of the world was once a creative act. The creation of the world was not a negation of existing structures; it was a creation ex nihilo. The following days of creating the world consisted of subsequent addition of new elements. Was there a relationship (and what kind) between these? The creation of the world as a formula for a strenuous fight in favour of an eight-hour day is: The repetition of a creative act. The constant actions of construction and deconstruction are a constructive destruction Each previous creative act determines the current one, and each current one is fully present as a result of the previous one.
The physical manifestation of these actions in practice, were implemented from laid out ideas according to a participant’s relationship to the meeting36: writings-slogans37, the determination of solar and lunar shadows38, a sculpture made out of brisk (mobile-stereo), the tying of a brick to a piece of wood39, excretions, in other words the shit from artists40, a gazebo of cunts41 (…), fleeting forms, the life of which was associated only with 7 days of creation42. Amongst the ephemeral works exchanged were “film ze słuchu” [A Film out of Hearing] (Adamiak operating the camera with a blindfold on his eyes), “wigwam starej Indianki” [The Wigwam of an Old Indian Woman] – in other words the impact of the tri-pod on Bińczyk43 (…) the genesis of the Czech-Italian war. The photo documentation of the war was deliberately destroyed. An action that was purely ephemeral consisted of walking and farting44. All these actions, many of which would be documented in the form of photos and films, were not in the end the essence of the practices. In the accounts from the Siedem dni na stworzenie świata, Gruszka (Grażyna) Herreou & Radołowicz wrote that the main aspect of these seven days is the relationship between the participants and objects, as well as between artists and themselves. Social relationships caused a kind of “spontaneous combustion” of specific activities and self-inflictions that caused almost automatic seizing of emotions by everyone. This gave birth to a “new quality”. Each creator would become for the other creator a “material for creation”, with the possibility available to interfere in the creation process. A certain set of signs was created this way – signs that were only clear by those that were involved, some sort of internal code for the purpose of ‘creation’45.
The author understood the statements by Łódź Kaliska’s actions as works of art within which there was a unity of creators, of viewers and of materials. The events that were the most important were those that came out intense relationships between the participants. These weren’t based on an acceptance of each other, but rather mutual stimulation through projects that would be defined as: failures, trivial, stupid, uninteresting, secondary, banal, illogical, unreasonable, inconsistent, uncommunicative, disinterested, indifferent, cynical, unconstructive, obvious, inconsistent, bad, embarrassing, carefree, none, plagiarism, bland, weak, primitive, mindless, mixing concepts, disordered, not much46. Rzepecki during the meeting in Kraków would recreate among others his
earlier performances for photography such as Male and Other Art. He would try these in relation to other actions by other participants. Resultantly his works would take up an entirely new meaning, a certain artistic aura would be thus lifted off from them. Within the context created by Łódź Kaliska of a “plane of misunderstandings” Rzepecki’s actions were derived from his art objects (not the material ones, but documentary ones), and were used as tools in establishing new contacts between individuals.
During the Siedem dni Rzepecki would arrange a circle of bricks that would collapse upon each other not unlike dominos, which could be interpreted as a kind of metaphor of the mutual interaction between the participants. Just as it was the case with the actions performed in reference to ideas behind Oskar Hansen’s47 Open Form manifesto, the artists from Kraków would respond to the activities of other participants of the event. In contrast however to the group associated with the famous architect and educator48, the members of Łódź Kaliska would not avoid visual dialogues with artists that they were not in line with. Moreover during the Siedem dni they systematically tried to be as artistically inactive as possible, this would include not reformulating older works into new ones. Within this context they were not naïve in the least, as they knew very well that in not creating any art they were doomed to fail.
The Siedem dni event would liberate amongst its participants a paradoxical creative energy. This energy would see first public light of day in a performance49 on the Main Square of Kraków entitled Upadek Zupełny [Total Fall], where all the participants would lay on the ground as a certain manifestation of inactivity following the creation of the world ex nihilo50. From there on everything seemed possible. It was enough to rebound oneself off from an artistic bottom, or to be in agreement with a certain artistic strategy, in delving even deeper in search of absolute creative freedom. That was the direction it seems to me that Łódź Kaliska was aiming for after that meeting in Kraków. Proof of that is in the actions that they would undertake in Osieki, where the artist would present a series of interventions in unmasking the insincerity, in their opinion, of some of the most important artists and theorists of art in Poland51.
During the plein air in Osieki members of Łódź Kaliska52 would create numerous „contesting actions”53. On the walls of a building situated in the area of the plein air they would write provocative slogans54, one of which was in reference to Partum’s You are ignorant of art and culture. The performance that grabbed their attention the most however was Maria Pinińska-Bereś’s Pranie [Wash], during which they would toss dirty bed sheets into her wash, while at the end of her performance Janiak would hang his dirty undershirt next to Pinińska-Bereś’s washed canvases, which together had imprinted letters forming the word ‘feminism’. On the area of the plein air they would also throw around leaflets with the slogan The shrine of embarrassing art and other art. They also would erect a sculpture – a transparent tent of art and science. On the official poster of the plein air they would write: Since dawn we’ve been in the grass. Apart from that, Łódź Kaliska also organised an action at the Małą Gallery N, where Janiak would comment upon for example a reproduction of Jan Matejko’s Stańczyk, by claiming it was in fact an earlier painting by Pierzgalski – one of the participants of his meetings. Janiak also would present an action entitled Marynarka wojenna [Army Jacket], which consisted of the artist wearing, for the duration of the plein air, an army jacket with the performance’s title inscribed on its back. During the performance of Total Performance – Pointless Art Jan Świdziński – the author responsible for the concept of art as a contextual art – would read in English Kwietniewski’s manifesto of the same title. In this manifesto the author write the following:
1. An obligatory categorical rationalism of contemporary art is the artist released into the avenue of absurd consequences. 2. A judicious action should legitimise the artist, and yet judiciousness imposes itself as the only possible model for human activities. — Hence why in the name of the humanity one has to courageously oppose this necessity of being judicious. — Hence why senseless art (nonsense) is a positive praise of uninhibited activity. — I commend the nonsense of art and culture. — I make a first tiny initial gesture, and then force myself to an inconsistent second one. — Loss of confidence towards the artist – the viewer – oneself – delirium – is the reality of senseless art (nonsense) — To create such an art is to look for truth in paranoia, which is something I wish to all my friends of Łódź Kaliska.
The reading of the manifesto was a smaller element of the larger action The shrine of embarrassing art and other art, that would culminate with a performance by Kwietniewski entitled Huj artysty [The Artist’s Dick], for which the artist would strip naked, with on his torso written the inquiring title of his work, he would climb upon a cart with a pile of wood and proceed to expose publically his penis. At that plein air Janiak’s would present his manifesto of Embarrassing Art, disclosing in public the main ideas behind Łódź Kaliska’s interventions in Osieki.
Who knows how much further Łódź Kaliska’s artistic practice would’ve developed in such a guise. Rzepecki’s ‘careers would’ve certainly have been different, since he was not only involved in creating works with Łódź Kaliska, but also promoted their practice, ran the Jaszczury Photo Gallery, organising exhibitions there, published catalogues, during theoretical meetings he would be influential to the theoretical developments of the actions55. The introduction of Martial Law in Poland effectively terminated all these plans56. In December of 1981, everyone one had to decide again from scratch what to do.
The artists of Łódź Kaliska seemed prepared for the fact that by the end of the year 1981 reality would shamelessly reveal its embarrassing face. In the surrealistic environment of oppression, fragments of which they’ve already tried to uncover the meaning, they would find now a new instigator for their actions. Responsibility had made itself suddenly more and more potent. The practice of not only embarrassing art, but art overall, as of December 1981, would become a clear gesture of a political act upon ordinary life. Earlier actions of Łódź Kaliska had an anarchist character, with its members inclined to causing conflicts, however they acted against a general idea of power, even politically speaking, against social pressures, and artistic pressures. After introduction of the Martial Law, they would remain critical of both parties involved in this shameless conflict.
The first action Rzepecki undertook in this new situation was a walk around Kraków’s Old Market Square with a foxtail attached to his pants. It was that same tail that was utilised by the artist in his performance for photography Male and Other Art. Photographed by Grzegorz Zygier57, the action would be subtle in tone, but nonetheless risky in its attempt at freedom of expression within a threatening environment towards civil liberties. One may associate this action with Krzysztof Niemczyk’s series of performances where the artist would show his bare ass in different parts of Kraków’s Market Square, which – incidentally – was photographed by Rzepecki himself58. Niemczyk, who was an astoundingly inspiring figure for Kraków’s artistic community, although not a direct inspiration for Rzepecki, comes to mind when observing this member of Łódź Kaliska walking upon the streets of the Market Square. These simple gestures created by two authentic artists within different contexts would testify as to this necessity to escape from the clutches of an oppressive reality, with the willingness of totally compromising it by emphasizing one’s own individuality in regards to this grey social mass. Similarly we can look at an action by Zbigniew Libera’s, who in 1982 would respond to the reality that was surrounding him by shaving his head off59, which at that time was a look associated with criminals. Niemczyk, Libera and Rzepecki by means of simple, private, invisible performances would consciously identify themselves as outsiders in regards to the hostile towards them society and terrorized reality by the authorities.
Within the context of the dramatic events of December 1981, Rzepecki’s foxtail could’ve been interpreted as something unworthy and frivolous. Hence, all the more should we infer from this performance an act of defence in favour of independent thinking, of extreme individualism, where the most important was not so much a political freedom, but the freedom to be creative in general. Of course, Rzepecki was well aware of the context within which he was operating. Nonetheless his primary focus with his action was upon the creative act as such, no matter what society would think of it. His relationship to actual events had in any case already been revealed in his work at the Jaszczury Photo Gallery. In responding to attacks resulting from criticism of his art, Rzepecki declared:
(…) I’m all for Renewal. I support all those who seek to ensure that “Poland will be Polish“. I’m for a free and democratic Poland. This means that I don’t want to take away the freedom that belongs to art. Art is the way it is. Making the artists work by the „order of the moment” is making (the art) prostitute. I don’t agree that the exhibition “Performance for Photography” presented at Jaszczury Photo Gallery of Łódź Kaliska’s work should not be considered as a seriousness of the moment.
Rzepecki’s action, which was created two months after the declarations associated with the Siedem dni na stworzenie świata [Seven Days to Create the World], as well as the performance Upadek zupełny [Total Fall], can be regarded just as much as a manifestation of creativity, of extreme individualism expressed beyond the interests of some or other social or political entities. This attitude can be described, as have done the artist that live by it, as “creative anarchy”. Following the events of December 13th 1981, Rzepecki wouldn’t sway away from these convictions.
on March 1982 with the written contents:
– I apologize so-called society for my temporary absence in art62
Limited in so far as the telegram was meant to be viewed by only one person, we can nonetheless infer from its context an earlier declaration made by Rzepecki in Osieki where he had expressed himself as pretending to be an artist. Rzepecki however, lamenting in hindsight, confessed that despite his earlier declarations, his momentarily pretending to be an artist was in fact not possible. It’s hard to not look at this telegram and consider it in reference to the closing of exhibition institutions by authorities and the bringing about of a political system of terror and intimidation which eventually would lead to the boycott of official governmental institutions by artists63. In declaring his absence, Rzepecki de facto already confirmed this ensuing situation. By announcing his return to an artistic community, which previously he had ironized and pretended his part, he would accomplish an annexation of reality. With his sense of humour however, he didn’t manifest this gesture in public.
Rather, he conveyed the information to the better representative of community, in other words his friend Kryszkowski. Willingly or not, Rzepecki had inscribed himself, by means of his passive action, into the artists’ boycott, officially announced in April 1982 as a result of the closing of exhibition space. Rzepecki’s telegram, in the context of the declaration Głos, który jest milczeniem [A voice, which is silence], could be portrayed as an ironic joke. In not having been present in the world of art, Rzepecki would suddenly find himself in a group of people that previously had been boycotting official cultural institutions. What’s more, he found himself amongst artists of the avant-garde with tendencies for such attitudes.
Łódź Kaliska, in searching for its own identity in this new situation, likewise by no means wanted to sit quietly. A few months after the introduction of Martial Law, a new space for alternative activities would be already found. On May 2nd 1982, Łódź Kaliska would inaugurated a new space for its practice, the legendary Strych [The Attic], which would be a non-formal place of meetings, located in the attic of Wlodzimierz Adamiak’s studio, near ul Piotrkowska in Łódź, where among others64 in the ’80s the group Pitch-in Culture was born. The members of Łódź Kaliska had found a space where they could develop and practice actions of previously conceived ideas. In relation to this Rzepecki could declare:
With difficulty, but consistently, I still pretend to be an artist 19.06.89 65
Already following the first meetings at Strych in May 1982 an integration of private and artistic practices were established, much in the same was as it was done at the Siedem dni. Creative activity was primarily a pretext for intensive meetings. The atmosphere in the attic was at the same time relaxed and stimulating. Jolanta Ciesielska recalled the essence of the atmosphere in the Strych aside form an amazing atmosphere of play mixed in with some spicy and relentless disputes about “art and culture” as well as great tolerance from the hosts (…), the atmosphere there was authentic with a sense of community (later reflected in the name Pitch-in Culture), which would make up one of the most important characteristics of subsequent projects, actions, thereby determining a way of being, and found within the behaviour of the people staying there66. 1. In this community much appreciated: “a sincerity, authentic reactions, a spontaneity of actions, admitting one’s own powerlessness, unmasking falsities that exist in social system, as well as bourgeois prudery, a critical attitude towards culture (and reality), an openness, a dire individualism was appreciated the most (…)67. The space of the Strych wold become an important meeting place for artistic and social events in Łódź68, and, as time would shown, the rest of the country as well. As Tomasz Snopkiewicz would recall, the
introduction of Marshal Law in Łódź, provoked within independent spaces „a form and tone to the development or activities”, which would later „spread throughout the rest of the country”69. Undoubtedly to this contributed national meetings of artists, many of which would take place in Piotrowska street 149. 70.
The first action that Rzepecki performed at the Strych was his hour of absence, which this time the artist announced publically. Under the attic, Rzepecki would present his work Moja nieobecność w sztuce [My Absence From Art] as a transparency with the text:
Still unpunished I move about in the world of art. Rzepecki.
In the later published accompanying document to this action, its author pointed out that his action would “pull him back into the realm of art”71. In conclusion he stated:
How hard it is to be absent in art!!
Despite the fact that he did not want to be seen as an artist, he remained one and this even in a place that was intended for non-art. The quest to liberate oneself from the boundaries of the creative act as posited by a certain culture of construction that is art, had ultimately failed. The author was aware of that. In creating a failed work, Rzepecki revealed the paradox of intentional non-existence in the arts. The quest for nonexistence would make existence even more visible.
Rzepecki, member of Łódź Kaliska, showed the impossibility to solve the situation when avoiding art would becomes all the more art. Especially during Martial Law, where at the beginning all creative acts were limited by authorities, and later self-restrained by an artist boycott. Within such conditions inactivity took up the form of a political and artistic manifestation. Thus, Rzepecki realised that within the context of the times an artistic action of a Dadaist character could be very easily assimilated by society and the artistic community. He saw therefore a paradox in the situation, in that even in such alternative places as the Strych, the risk was there that he could become the kind of artist that society was expecting him to be.
Attempts of disappearance from the arts have been numerous. In Poland alone we can mention the deliberate absence of Włodzimiera Borowski during the vernissage of his exhibition Fubki Tarb, organised by Jerzy Ludwiński’s gallery Pod Moną Lizą in Wrocław in 1969. A that time however the most inspiring reference for Rzepecki was Marcel Duchamp, whose work he discovered whilst studying at the Jagiellonian University72. The strategy of inactivity undertaken by Duchamp however within Martial Law was insufficient. Rzepecki decided thus to punish Duchamp.
The Punishment of Marcel Duchamp
In march 1983 Rzepecki realised a film entitled Jak Kuba Bogu, tak Bóg Kubie czyli o ukaraniu Marcela Duchampa73 [What Kuba does to God, God does to Kuba, in Other Words About the Punishing of Marcel Duchamp], which was a documentation of an action undertaken in a private apartment in Kraków74. The artist would sit on a table and paint a moustache on the face of the Our Lady of Częstochowa represented on 200 copies of postcards that he had bought at a devotional store. Once finished the artist would look straight into the camera, showing that he himself had also had moustache painted on his face. As the artist mentioned in the commentaries of his screenplay, this way Marcel Duchamp had been punished. People around of the film would also have painted moustache upon their faces.
The punishment served to Duchamp consisted mainly of repeating the latter’s gesture made in relation to the Monal Lisa while paying attention to what kind of importance it could possibly gain within a different political and cultural context. Rzepecki’s gesture also revealed something that the master did not. Duchamp’s gesture aimed at showing the nature of western culture’s fetishisation within works of art, while Rzepecki in turn applied this towards images that had become icons of opposition, as represented by Pope Jean Paul II, Lech Wałęsa and the Solidarność logo. Rzepecki’s gesture of Duchamp’s drew attention to the specifics of a visual culture environment created by the democratic opposition.
His ironic treatment was aimed towards the initial state of an image and its subsequent technical manipulation. In painting a moustache on the Our Lady of Częstochowa, the artist would cut himself off from a society, which uncritically had turned itself in favour of religion and the political. Rzepecki realised nonetheless that cutting oneself off from society wasn’t enough. The artist had effectively distinguished himself by creating such a gesture. Consequently Rzepecki did what Duchamp hadn’t done – he painted a moustache onto his own face. People that had been in Rzepecki’s circle at the time had felt perhaps intuitively that the artist’s auto-irony would’ve also distinguished him from the others, decided to also paint moustaches on their faces. From there came out a community of people with moustaches exempting themselves from the oppressive culture75. In that apartment in Kraków, in 1983, an alternative community striving for the independence of individuals was created. Something was created there, something that Duchamp himself hadn’t created, an idea of a community of individuals, that Duchamp himself probably wouldn’t even had considered.
Our Lady with Moustache was placed on the cover of the first issue of the magazine Tango76. This magazine can be considered as yet another joint action within the space of autonomous units within the framework of Kultury Zrzuty [Pitch-in Culture], and was mainly published by the mem bers of Łódź Kaliska. As Jerzy Truszkowski recalls, they were created in such a way that each author would create their own layout of their A4 size pages, the authors would then assemble the copies collectively, stitching them together with the covers. Sometimes someone would have access to a duplicator or photocopier, and would help out some of his colleagues in the assembly process. Most of the issues were however assembled manually with the help of drawing tools, paint, templates, and mainly photographs77. Manifestos, interviews and numerous auteur texts, not only from members of Łódź Kaliska, were also published78.
The cover created by Rzepecki for the first issue was no mere provocation, it testified rather to the creation of a new community. It could be considered as the very manifesto of the Pitch-in Culture, as its members strived for total independence with a world they’ve created out of nothing.
Kryszkowski recognised this when writing that Tango created (…) a sufficient set of situations, as can happen to anyone who has a preference towards independent thinking, independent from the fruitions that such endeavours can potentially bring forth79. He also saw in Tango the creation of genuine sense of misunderstanding, a sincere lack of acceptance from the readers80. He saw its value in that the readers’ first contact with the first issues of Tango provoked intoxicated uncertainty, fear and embarrassment81. It helped him, as a collaborator of Tango, to find his own individuality.
In looking through the works of these “founders of the Pitch-in Culture”82 that are included in the issues of Tango, one has to keep in mind of the differently manifested attitudes towards reality, these being as much individual as collective, private as public. Often the auteur pages would refer themselves to individual members’ activities, like those for example of Rzepecki’s in the third issue of Tango, documenting his slogans and actions during the meeting of the founders of Pitch-in Culture in Teofilów in 1983.
Crossing the Red Sea
In Teofilów Rzepecki created some spontaneous performances, among others the Crossing of the Red Sea. The participants who were invited to the performance would come to the seaside, where, to their surprise, they would see a completely dry performer strolling about on the other bank.
The consternation was all the much bigger as Rzepecki was amongst them a few moments earlier. At the other side of the river there was no boat that could’ve transported him there. The mystery remained as to how Rzepecki had managed to get to the other side with his feet dry. While reflecting upon this, the audience would notice that at some point the artists would startt to head towards their direction, across the river. He would cross at the point where it was most shallow. After having quickly crossed the river, he would take out some water paints and start to paint the surface of the water red.
The surprise of the audience was also met with amusement. This surrealistic situation created by Rzepecki, as it was the case with Ogonek [Tail] and Ukarania Marcela Duchampa [The Punishment of Marcel Duchamp], grabbed the attention of the audience and made them realise that reality wasn’t as obvious as it seemed. He revealed the value of the gesture. The creative act cannot so much change society, as destabilise the way it is perceived. Rzepecki showed that irrational actions can make sense. He revealed the value of a gesture in so far as initially conceived abysmal, embarrassing, and ridiculous, it can provoke nonetheless a change of view towards reality, consequently leading it to transformation. Painting rivers with watercolours isn’t such a stupid thing. After all crossing a river with your feet being dry is not impossible. In relation to Rzepecki’s performance, the accompanying slogan in that issue of Tango corresponds well:
Life is serious
maybe Art must be joyful maybe or not Rzepecki
With his own kind of zeal, the artist would urge to irrational action, leaving the audience to their own assessment of whether or not it should taken with a carefree manner.
As an aside it is worth noting that Rzepecki, in referring himself to the Crossing of the Red Sea, also identified himself with the nation of Israel and the figure of the Jew as a model of the Other84 excluded from society. In his mystified biographies, Rzepecki would often add a middle name to his existing name. For example in a biographical note included in the catalogue of an exhibition at the Mała Galeria he would write about himselfs as…my name is Adam Isaac Rzepecki. Rzepecki is the son of Aaron Rzepecki, an organist. He was born in the village of Mogiła in 1943. His grandfather Mojżesz, hung about in the bohemian Berlin art scene. While his great grandfather Ismael Mittelbaum Tamburmajor fought in the January uprising85. As to the identifying oneself with the Other, there is a photograph showing Rzepecki dressed up like an Indian, which he placed on the upon a Hebrew newspaper, and published the resulting image in the eight issue of Tango86.
The society for Rzepecki, Rzepecki for society
Rzepecki also achieved an annexation of his documented actions by means of photo camera, by giving his works an ex post of completely new meaning. This was the case with most famous photo, in which he was sitting in a chair, wearing only shorts, with a baby upon his breast – turns out in fact it’s the artist’s very daughter. This photo, defined by Rzepcki with the title Projekt Pomnika Ojca Polaka [The Project of the Polish Father’s Monument], was created on July 15th 1981 at his own house, and first published in Tango in 1983 with the following commentary by the artist: Rzepecki for society87. Next to the photo, on the opposing page, Rzepecki placed a picture that he described as the Projekt Pomnika in honour of recent riots, which came out of a documentation involving the pursuit of fun games by participants trying to appear as close as possible within the range of a photo camera. Rzepecki added the following comment to that picture: The society for Rzepecki.
Between these two photographs placed opposite one another in a magazine, a dialogue was thus created. In playing out the expected role by society of a father figure, Rzepecki was reacting, in his opinion, to an oppressive signifier, in praise of activities that he would see as destabilising towards social situations. By identifying fun and games with protests, the artist would reveal his anarchistic nature, in that he wouldn’t want to take any sides of any conflict, let alone conflict involved
in Martial Law. What interested him was the very nature of conflicts, and the specific position one was to take. On the other hand it doesn’t seem as though Rzepecki was discontent of his position of fatherhood. What bothered him rather was the model imposed by society as to how a father should function in society. It’s no surprise therefore that over time The Project of the Polish Father’s Monument would be added to the cycle of works Male and Other Art, and conceived as an anarchistic stance against certain social and artistic measures, felt as oppressive by Rzepecki. It is also worth to mention here in regards to that cycle of works, the presence of the word „other”, which seems to be an overall key word in Rzepecki’s oeuvre.
Rzepecki remained extremely sensitive as to the roles that society was imposing upon him. Conversely, he also believed in the structures involved in the creation of alternative communities composed out of individual units, such as was the Pitch-in Culture. Nevertheless however, as it was the case with his friend Kryszkowski, Rzepecki would feel a certain threat in the overzealous identifying to a certain structural model, which willingly or not, members of the Strych would progressively adhere to. That said, he remained nonetheless faithful to the practices that arose from the experience at the Siedmiu dni na stworzenie świata [Seven Days to Create the World], where the participants would provoke each other, often in ruthless ways, towards creating within the group an incredible creative potential. In distorting the title of Kryszkowski’s work placed in the second issue of Tango, we can say that in observing the creation of a peculiar fauna, which was the Pitch-in Culture, at the Strych, both Kryszkowski and Rzepecki would come to the conclusion that “something bothered them”88.
In Kryszkowski’s case it was the kind of egalitarian artistic activity that was conspiring within the atmosphere of the Strych. He felt this for the first time during the presentation of the first edition of the Nieme Kino [Silent Cinema]89. Kryszkowski would critically look upon the need of intercommunal acceptance, which was initially defined by Łódź Kaliska as oppressive measures90.
Similar concerns would be expressed by the manifesto O akceptację! [Concerning Acceptance!], in which Tomasz Snopkiewicz in a perverse way presented the inherent threats involved when establishing what an artistic community should strive for. Snopkiewicz’s manifesto was first published in the fifth issue of Tango. Its author wrote that:
Acceptance is the only available tool in artistic participation91
He claimed that it’s something that every artist would strive for. It wasn’t however in his opinion something at all positive. He suggested that striving towards acceptation is threating in creating of an artistic conformism.
Acceptance is pleasant
This lead him to a radical statement that even contestation ultimately would lead to acceptance. Thus, consequently he also cautioned the following hypothesis that he put forward:
Nihilism92 is in fact acceptance
In an ambiguous way Snopkiewicz would suggest that the only condition for an independent practice was the lack of acceptance. He believed that the void that would ensue should be filled with self-acceptance Presence in art This critical attitude of acceptation, including its case within an anti-artistic community, can be also perhaps testified by Rzepecki’s performance at the Strych during the Porno festival in 1985 93. It was a provocation of double-negative nature. Rzepecki’s aim was not so much to criticise the Pitch-in Culture, but make its members of the community aware of a certain problem that was prevalent there. Rzepecki titled his action Pitch-in Culture z Nowej Huty albo moja obecność w sztuce [The Pitch-in Culture from Nowa Huta, or My Presence in Art]94.
In his actions, as in the actions of other members of Łódź Kaliska, Rzepecki did not avoid obscenities. This time however his action would have a different character. While it would be seductively provocative, it would also aim to embarrass the very founders of this alternative movement. Nonetheless it was not so much based on the hidden out of embarrassment universal sexual proclivities found within society, as much as the dark subtext that was prevalent in the means of working of its members during meetings at the Strych.
While standing in front of these self-declared anti-artists, Rzepecki – himself an anti-artist – would describe the artistic activities he had undertaken up to hen as jokingly playful95 art.
Real art should be serious, or not.
In regards to this statement Rzepecki decided that for the Porn Festival he wouldn’t denude himself, as it would’ve been a distasteful thing to do. Nor would he denude himself mentally. With full confidence he would simply refuse to respond to any expectations that were had upon him by the present members there, as he would stand there inquisitively looking at them. Subsequently he would barefacedly announce: As of today, I will stop pretending to be an artist
Thus, he decided that he was an artist. With this Rzepecki showed an example that society had in fact already accepted him as an artist96. If any one would’ve had any doubts as to that, he would’ve simply, with an authoritarian hand, pointed towards the realm of art and placed himself within it along with a few others that he noticed hadn’t deserved it.
I am a real artist. I am a versatile artist. I am not afraid of any medium.
– Rzepecki would exclaim during his performance. And he would prove these statements by manipulating without any complexes, or difficulties, a film for photo camera, a pencil, an apple, and a jar of paints, which had become props for his performance. At the end of his performance Rzepecki would exclaim:
I’d Rather Prefer Pitch-in to Culture
and aside from that…
Above all I am a Polish Artist
To embody oneself in the role of the artist within the context of Pitch-in Culture was according to Rzepecki a hidden desire towards inherent expectations that were prevalent at the Strych. Rzepecki would be the first to publically remark upon these needs, which lurked in the minds of the assembled members. The performance that he presented to an audience that was prepared for any kind of embarrassing actions by a performer that was shamelessly presenting himself as an artist as proposed by social measures, would turn out to be very provocative indeed. This embarrassment was probably felt there from both sides. The amused audience had to nevertheless ponder seriously upon Rzepecki’s presented issue.
Really, I’m not a nihilist
Rzepecki, the Kraków-based artist, had already once undertaken the theme of nihilism whilst during the first public performance by Pitch-in Culture in a public institution. During the action Antymanifestacja Kultury Zrzuty [The Antimanifestation of Pitch-in Culture] at the Stodoła in 1985, Rzepecki had put up a transparent banner over everybody else’s art objects, with the following text written on it:
Really, I’m not a nihilist
This statement can be read as a denial of the common opinion that Pitch-in Culture would question every possible value. However one would have to remember that Rzepecki would advocate artistic values in an ambiguous way – through negation. He took up the role of the artist as a provocative way of responding to the possible threat of institutionalisation that the Pitch-in Culture was facing. And in the mid-’80s this threat would become all the more potent.
In 1984 Józef Robakowski used the term nihilism to characterise the work of Pitch-in Culture97 in a statement that he wrote, which was often subsequently republished98, including in his own writing, included in a text written in 1988 about ’80s art99, where again the term nihilism was used. Józef Robakowski wanted to primarily determine the kind of work Pitch-in Culture was creating. He would write that in the beginning of the ’80s in Poland new kinds of artistic practices would appear that would fiercely attack the intellectual stereotypes that would be suggest a sense of independence within cultural and political changes. Here, there were no doctrines, nor any principles of thought. NIHILISM was assumed from the very top, as a core value. Only intellectual nihilism (the positive kind), in our opinion, can cultivate the status of the artist in our era. What’s more, it provokes continuous transformation of thought, enabling adaptability within each given situation. Organisational bases became PLACES that could only be found outside the structural means created by predecessors. Private meetings, as it’s been the case so far, proved to be most effective. The rest was manifested by means of leaflets, placards and posters, letters, transparencies, private and auteur publications and archival collections, hand-made books, collective actions, performances, video documentations, film or audio productions…Thus PITCH-IN CULTURE has made its presence felt, and the proof of that is in that there is more and more of us100.
The term “intellectual nihilism (positive)” was used by Robakowski also to characterise the worldviews, as he saw it, of these founding members of the Pitch-in Culture. In referring himself to the positive nihilism of Partum101 he wrote: “to laugh with tears in the eyes” is our basic attitude, sarcastic in nature, while in our own reality extremely creative. We like to be, in these times of subsequent downfalls of the social-political organisms, to be jesters, in instigating our own means of defence, in other words as Partum has expressed it: we become in moments threatening to us “positive nihilists”. We continue to work creatively, stuck as we are in some absurd resistance, which gives us life-affirming satisfaction. (…) In my opinion following the introduction of Martial Law a “positive nihilism” attitude was created, it had a right of being, when included within it was an intellectual reflection, a sort of element of distancing from itself. Such an attitude is undoubtedly a response to the flood of academic pseudo-blabberings with its westernised style and existential problems102.
Robakowski, as we can see, as an artist and art historian has sought to recognise Pitch-in Culture within an academic sphere. In describing this slowly dissipating creative movement as being nihilistic in nature, he effectively had instigated the very components its founding members had sought to avoid. By this, Robakowski had included Pitch-in Culture into the very realm of art. In referring himself to the manifesto of positive nihilism in art in describing the movement, he had effectively characterised the latter as being artistic.
A year after Kultury Zrzuty’s practice had been summarized in the form of publications, towards which some of the members of Łódź Kaliska103 had participated in terms of editorial duties, Rzepecki would present a provocative action, as it would his custom by now, which would emphasize his anti social individualism. In distancing himself from the nihilism appropriated by Robakowski within an artistic practice, he would protest against any determination of his work by academic discourse. While exclaiming that he wasn’t a nihilist, he would also try to slip away from those that would describe him as being an artist. What’s interesting, by distinguishing himself from Robakowski, he would effectively walk the path laid out by Partum in 1981 with his Manifest Pozytywnego Nihilizmu Sztuki [Manifesto of the Positive Nihilism in Art]104.
The Manifest Pozytywnego Nihilizmu Sztuki first announced in Kraków, and distributed for the first time in Warsaw, can be seen as a summary of this yet to be recognised artist’s career that spanned over twenty years. His manifesto is a result of ideas he’s accumulated from the ’60s up until the moment he pulled out from the paradigm of the artistic avant-garde thanks to the Manifest zwierzęce [Animal Manifesto]105.
In his Manifest Pozytywnego Nihilizmu Sztuki, Partum would indicate ways of escaping beyond the anthropocentricities of culture, which – as he saw it – was violent in nature. He stressed above all the importance of the marginalized error, which could prove as something effective towards the fight against oppressive civilizations. He believed that the values that
made up culture were illusionary. And that one had to escape its clutches driven as they were by the logic of progress, and above all threatening towards the essence of existence106. Partum believed that the greatest potential for life could be found in inactivity. Consequently, he was the first in Poland to state inaction in the oppressive culture as being the most sensible action. He wrote:
WHEN AN ARTIST SLEEPS, HE IS THE MOST PRODUCTIVE e) each action, perhaps, is nothing more than the complete inactivity of its action and this can be an absolute vegetation by the one performing it107
Rzepecki while hanging up his banner Antymanifestacji Kultury Zrzuty [Anti Manifestation of Pitch-in Culture] at the Stodoła, was hoping, as he had done so previously, to represent inactivity in art, while Partum in turn would become the first to present it as the most important creative aspect of existential nature. By distancing himself from the nihilist label that Robakowski had imposed upon the Pitch-in Culture, Rzepecki preferred to follow effectively the positive nihilism as rightfully understood by Partum. Nonetheless Rzepecki after all wouldn’t make any radical departure from his own ideologies. He would never resign from participating in culture, as has his closest friend Kryszkowski had attempted to, inspired as he was by Partum’s practice108. Perhaps Rzepecki believed that it was something that was not possible. He tried rather unceasingly to challenge the alertness of Kultury Zrzuty’s founders, as well as himself, in not falling victim to complacency.
I would rather not
Within the Pitch-in Culture community Rzepecki was an important figure as his actions would constantly stimulate the activity of its participants, meetings, plein-airs, and presentations. Kryszkowski would recognise this clearly in his periodical the Hola Hoop, wherein upon making a trip to Russia to visit Wytkacy’s grave, he had placed a bag with ashes extracted from the tomb of his master109, with a published dedication to Rzepecki of the resulting work he had entitled Spotkanie z Marią [A Meeting with Maria]. On that same page there was an editorial comment that would inform: placed therein was to be placed a photo of Maria K with Rzepecki in the background. Unfortunately by God’s help it disappeared (from Grygel’s collection). Under the comment was placed a bag with soil signed: soil taken from Maria’s grave (Konopnicka in this case). Rzepecki would accept the work as being his own110. For Kryszkowski it was a necessary commentary in regards to his own relationship to Witkacy, which had led him ultimately to resign from his participation in culture. Whereas Rzepcki’s ironic ways was an important element for Kryszkowski’s own anti-cultural practice111. Rzepecki’s practice was no mere buffoonery. His attitude had a broad existential dimension. As the perspective of time would show, in deciding to work within the realm of oppressive culture, he would consciously remain suspended between negation and affirmation, between consent and dissent, rebellion and pleasure, in terms of his relation to social acceptance. Within any situation, not only artistic ones, Rzepecki would seem to say with a wry smile I’d rather not112. He would be unhesitant in creating paradoxical situations of negation negating itself. Moreover,
he would question his own attitudes, from a binary categorical attitude, towards for example his own presence in art. All of this allowed Rzepecki to retain his individuality, while instigating in others the defence their own, for the years to come.
Legendary shot from a cap gun in Kraków’s Market Square.
An expansive manifestation of his ‘anti-cultural’ practice was performed in 1986 in Kraków’s Old Market Square. Some time earlier Rzepecki would send his friends the information that on January 30th he will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Dada Cabaret Voltaire with a triple shot from a cap gun at the very moment when St Mary’s basilica bugle call would be transmitted on Polish Radio. On that day, just before noon, he climbed on the roof of a building opposite to the towers of St Mary’s basilica, and when the Trumpeter would start to play the bugle the would fire three firecracker shots into the air.
In a photo collage created before the mentioned performance Rzepecki could be seen standing against one of the basilica’s towers pointing a cap gun into the air. Paying tribute to the ephemeral actions of the Dadaists it would entail that in really he hadn’t in fact shot from a toy gun. That’s how all of us would like to believe it and how we would want to remember this event. Rzepecki, basing himself on our habits, created a kind of legendary event, an alternative historical discourse. We could even say, by use of tribute, he created his own kind of monument-provocation. Rzepecki’s photo collage can be thus seen as the artist own kind of playful way of including his ephemeral action into the history of art. And this is not only in reference here to the Dadaist of Zurich. As he had done previously in denying that he was a nihilist, in response the founders of the Pitch-in Culture attempts at characterising their artistic practice, similarly he had done so here towards avoiding a historical discourse in claiming that legend, orafairy tale, can be more real than history113. His performance in the Marke at Square and supporting collage of the event can be read as yet another ironic gesture in relation to the admonishment of independent creative activity, to which – he himself claims – we are still prone to.
The Second Death of Aeschylus
An ironic perception towards the Pitch-in Culture’s practice, as well as his own within historical and artistic categories, would become an important theme in the work of Rzepecki in the second half of the ’80s. During an meeting for the founding members of the Pitch-in Culture organised by himself and Grzegorz Zygier at the Pod Jaszczurami club in 1986, and ironically titled Pozdrawiamy urzędników sztuki [Greetings Officials of Art]114, Rzepecki would present for the first time his thematically pertinent performance Druga Śmierć Ajschylosa [The Second Death of Aeschylus]115. Rzepecki would sit under a suspended over his head bag of footballs that were to fall on his head, upon an approaching of a lit fuse. The performance, which was presented in the yard of the Pod Jaszczurami club, would prove unsuccessful however, as the lit fuse had not burned off at the expected moment, as result of a big downpour. The fuse would instead linger, unbeknownst to everyone. Chance had it that the action was thereby still happening. Only later at night would, with the artist not being present anymore, would the footballs finally collapse to the ground. Its organisers would find them on the floor in the morning, an incentive to play football with passers-by in the Market Square. Rzepecki’s performance alluded to the death of the legendary ancient tragedian, intended to come out from a certain misunderstanding. Aeschylus was killed apparently by a turtle that was thrown by an eagle who took the latter’s bald head for a rock, upon which a turtle’s shell can be broken in getting towards its meat.
Rzepecki, as it was the case earlier, was interested in legends as means towards the construction of memory and the past. This kind of memory it seems was more important to him than the historical kind utilised by oppressive culture. The means of utilising legends would prove to be an efficient tool against the application of the Pitch-in Culture into a historical discourse. Rzepecki would however approach this with some distance.
The Death of Aeschylus resulting from a humorous unintended mistake had despite itself become an ironic commentary about the inkling feeling that this alternative movement was coming to its end. During the meeting in Kraków Rzepecki was to suggest a solution to the Pitch-in Culture’s „authoritarians of art”, namely a suicide that, humorously, would’ve been cause by an unexpected accident116.
A testament of that would be the subsequent performance of The Second Death of Aeschylus at the Wschodnia Gallery in Łódź in 1989, presented during a solo exhibition of Rzepecki’s entitled Chyba czas już umierać [Maybe it’s Time to Die] for the occasion of Łódź Kaliska’s ten year anniversary117. Rzepecki during that event had committed a symbolic suicide. He sat in the gallery under a bag full of rocks he had gathered in Rab. The lit fuse this time around would cause the contents of the bag to spill out onto its victim below. This caused dismay in the audience, as they were expecting
instead some or other witty Rzepecki-ish turn of events. This expectation was favorable in Rzepecki’s arrangement of this work. In reminiscing about the event Krzysztof Jurecki described it as follows: on the walls as an accompaniment to the performance were collages created by the artists geometrically crafted out of large amounts of railway trinkets, written upon which consistently was the name of the group (Łódź Kaliska – remin. D.K). Aside form that on the doors, covering the entrance of the gallery, were drawing in the style of a grey square upon a white background, meant as an ironic auto-commentary of K. Malevitch’s works. The performance ended with shots fired from cap guns118. Jurecki noticed that in the performance of this Kraków artist that is Rzepecki, the latter managed to combine the serious along with the farcical and the mocking. He showed a novel way of creating a balance between the threatening (falling rocks) and the whimsical: with the artist searching in these interesting propositions, in continuing his earlier interests from his performances of the Death of Aeschylus119.
With the perspective of time we can add to this candid retelling of events that Rzepecki’s performance had a symbolic character of parting ways with Łódź Kaliska and a farewell to it its artistic movement. An individual exhibition organised right before the June elections of 1989 presenting the works of three of Łódź Kaliska’s members can be seen as an official closing of this heroic era of creative collaborations in relation to the Pitchin Culture. Rzepecki, with his artistic suicide, would suggest the entering of a new reality. A humorous death, as result of an unexpected error, was for him the most suitable basis for future creative activities within the new social and political reality.
Life After Death
Rzepecki, after his symbolic artistic suicide in 1989, would continue nonetheless to create art. This important era, which had not only shaped his attitude towards art, but his life as well, had come to a close. Although he would participate in actions carried out later by Łódź Kaliska Museum120, which, as Jurecki had noted, would be a subsequent mutation of the group in the 90s towards actions of postmodern character. It seems however that Rzepecki was not so interested in taking up the role of a postmodernist joker121. Perhaps he recognised what Ciesielska had also recognised; the mid-90s, she would write, would become the most conservative, static and dead122 period in the history of the group’s practice.
Respect should be given however towards Rzepecki’s work in collaboration with Grzegorz Zygier and Katarzyna Pochrzęst, with whom in the 90s he created Stacja-PI Group123. Their joint video performances would stem from earlier photographic practices and an attitude originally shaped within the Pitch-in Culture movement in the ’80s. The performances for photography had been always close to Rzepecki’s heart, as it’s from that medium that he started his creative practice. The same can be said of works that he would create individually, with the help of his family. In treating his life as a Duchamp ready made, at the turn of the ’80s and 90s, he would focus
his attention towards film124.
Participating in an alternative creative movement in art has led Rzepecki to develop a unique, highly original and important attitude that would become for generations of artists to come. We can determine this attitude, in reference to Łódź Kaliska, as “constructive anarchy”. By ironically exclaiming ‘no’, Rzepecki would in a variety of situations balance himself between being rejected or accepted by society. He fought this way the suffocation of individuality by the guiding logic of cultural progress, which, similarly to Kryszkowski and Partum before that, Rzepecki saw as the greatest threat to the pursuit of being conscious and full of life. Still to this day, notwithstanding, the question remains whether or not Rzepecki is present in art.
1 Adam Rzepecki was in charge of the Jaszczury Photo Gallery from 1979, which he took over from the members of the Grupa Twórcza SEM [Creative Group SEM] Zbigniew Bzdak, Stanisław Kulawiak, Jerzy Ochoński, Krzysztof Wolski), with whom he collaborated since 1976. See Adam Rzepecki, Fotografia w „Jaszczurach” [Photography at the Jaszczury], [in the issue Jaszczury Laurel 1971-1979], edited by K. Miklaszewski, Kraków 1979.
2 The exhibition was then transferred to the Art Forum Gallery in Łódź, led by Mark Janiak and Andrzej Kwietniewski. See. Łódź Kaliska Performance for Photography, Jaszczury Photo Gallery-Art Forum Gallery, Kraków-Łódź 1981 [exhibition catalogue]
3 The members of Łódź Kaliska included: Marek Janiak, Andrzej Kwietniewski, Adam Rzepecki, Andrzej Świetlik, Andrzej Wielogórski (Makary) and initially Jerzy Koba.
4 At the Jaszcur Photo Gallery organized were the following exhibitions by Łódź Kaliska: Łódź Kaliska: Scenario of unrealised actions during V OFSM Darłowo 79 (1979), Photography plein air Bałtów 1979, Jaszczury Photo Gallery (1980), organised during the session Photography as a Possible View of Reality. It is also worth mentioning the exhibition at the Dessa Gallery in Kraków entitled Jaszczury Photo Gallery Presents: Łódź Kaliska. The Nationwide Student Action Przemyśl 2000 (1980), as well as the exhibition PSP–ZPAF at Mała Gallery in Warsaw organised under the slogan Łódź Kaliska: Each photograph is an extreme visual reality, and finally Widzenie ogranicza sztukę [Seeing Limits Art] (1980).
5 As to Łódź Kaliska’s specificity of farce and sincerity, it had been recently paid attention by Jarosław Lubiak See. Jarosław Lubiak, Niedojrzałość i brudny realizm jako strategie artystyczne Łodzi Kaliskiej [Immaturity and Dirty Realism as the Artistic Strategies of Łódź Kaliska], in the issue Szczerość i blaga Etyka prac Łodzi Kaliskiej w latach 1979–1989, [Honesty and Farce: Ethics in the Work of Łódź Kaliska During the Years 1979–1989], editor: Jarosław Lubiak, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź 2011 (exhibition catalogue).
6 In the leaflet accompanying the first joint presentation of the group Łódź Kaliska we can find the following information concerning its formation: September 5th, 1979 – the chairman of the Prezydium Rady Federacji Amatorskich Stowarzyszeń Fotograficznych [Presidium of the Federation of Amateur Photographic Societies], Janusz Lirski, removed from V Ogólnopolskich Fotograficznych Spotkań Młodych w Darłowie [The Fifth Nationwide Young Photographic Encounter in Darłowo] the following individuals: Adam Rzepecki (Grupa SEM, Kraków),Andrzej Świetlik (ZPAF, klub 6×6, member of Komisja Młodych Federacji [Commission of the Youth Federation]) Marek Janiak (member of Zarząd ŁTF, member of Komisji Młodych) and Andrzej Wielogórski (ŁTF). In this situation the following individuals also quit the Spotkania [Meetings]: Andrzej Różycki (ZPAF), Andrzej Kwietniewski and Jerzy Koba (ŁTF). This contributed to the cancelleation of the meeting program. These events were the result of a series of misunderstandings and personal animosity towards the Authorities in the Federation. The aforementioned members of the ŁTF resigned as a result from the Łódzkie Towarzystwo Fotograficzne [The Łódż Association of Photographers] and together with A.Rzepecki and A.Świetlik brought to life the Łódź Kaliska group. See. Łódź Kaliska: Scenario of unrealised actions during V OFSM Darłowo 79 (1979), Photography plein air Bałtów 1979, Jaszczury Photo Gallery (1980). The first joint action realised by Łódź Kaliska was a street performance in Darłowo entitled Przegrodzenie ulicy czarną wstęgą dla zrobienia zamieszania i odwrócenia uwagi w celu narzucenia białej płachty na grupę osób, skrępowania ich i walenia po dupach [Obstructing the street with the black ribbon to make fuzz and create distraction, in order to fling a white cloth over people, tie them up and kick their asses].
7 At the plein air there were: Andrzej Borys, Marek Janiak, Jerzy Koba, Antoni Myśliwiec, Adam Rzepecki, Andrzej Świetlik, Andrzej Wielogórski
8 Plener fotograficzny Bałtów 79 [Photography Plein air 1979], Jaszczury Photo Gallery, 1980
9 The members of Łódź Kaliska already under the same umbrella took part in the plein air in Krościenko in 1980, which was called II Spotkanie Starych Znajomych Kołogóry 80 [Second Meeting of Old Friends from Kołogóry 1980] and lasted between 20-23 of March 1980.
10 We can recall the environment surrounding the Foto Medium Art Gallery in Wrocław led by its president Jerzy Olek. In this movement the most inspiring according to Adam Rzepecki was Andrzej Różycki, member of Warsztat Formy Filmowej [Film Form Workshop].
11 It is worth recalling the exhibition where they wanted to underline their distinctiveness: Od Początku [From the Beginning], Centrum Kultury Budownictwa, Łódź 1980
12 Ogólnopolski Plener Młodych Artystów i Teoretyków [National Plein air of Young Artists and Theoreticians] in Świeszynie entitled Plener Miastko [Plein air Town] was organized by Stanisław Urbański in September 1980. The meeting was attended among others by Zbigniew Warpechowski (the performance Rąsia), Maria Pinińska-Bereś (the performance Aneksja krajobrazu [Annexation of the Landscape]), Jerzy Bereś (the manifestation Msza polityczna [The Political Mass]), Władysław Kazimierczak.
13 Taken from a conversation with Adam Rzepecki conducted in Kraków, 20.08.2013.
14 The deeper sense of the group’s activities has been studied already in the early 90s. See Krzysztof Jurecki, Łódź Kaliska. Chamstwo czy fenomen [Łódź Kaliska: Rudeness or Phenomenon], Obieg magazine 1991, issue no. 2, p.8–11; Piotr Rypson, Strategie chamstwa [Strategies of Rudeness], Obieg magazine 1991, issue no. 3, p. 13–14.
15 Jarosław Lubiak, Niedojrzałość i brudny realizm…[Immaturity and Dirty Realism…], cit. p.138.
16 To only mention for example the work of Jan Świdziński, Anna Kutera and Romuald Kutera, Andrzej Partum, Paweł Freisler.
17 The statement about the publishing of Łódź Kaliska’s magazine canbe found in the following magazine: Łódź Kaliska, Łódź Kaliska January 1981, issue no.1.
18 In the header of the special issue of the magazine Łódź Kaliska, Andrzej Kwietniewski, editor of the publication, wrote: This number is completely devoid of any reflection on the subject of art. It
gives me the pleasure to dedicate the contents of this special issue to Mr Andrzej Partum. See Łódź Kaliska, June 1981, special issue.
19 Krytykosystem sztuki [Critical-System of Art] (1970), Zasady sztuki PRO/LA [Principles of Art PRO / LA](1971), Zasady sztuki monodycznej [Principles of Monodic Art] (1972), Niezrozumienie sztuki daje szansę twórcy kolejnej wypowiedzi [The Misunderstanding of Art Gives a Chance to the Creator of the Next Expression] (1975), Manifest zwierzęcy [Animal Manifesto] (1980), Manifest Pozytywnego Nihilizmu Sztuki [Positive Nihilism of Art Manifesto](1981).
20 Taken from a conversation with Adam Rzepecki conducted in Kraków, 20.08.2013.
21 Manifest zwierzęcy [Animal Manifesto], Labirynt Gallery, Lublin 1980.
22 See. A. Partum, Manifest zwierzęcy [Animal Manifesto], Art Forum Gallery, Łódź 1980.
24 Marek Janiak, Andrzej Kwietniewski, Idiotic art – manifest I [Idiotic Art – Manifesto I], Idiotic art – manifest II [Idiotic Art – Manifesto II], Łódź Kaliska January 1981, issue no 1.
25 See. Jarosław Lubiak, Niedojrzałość i brudny realizm…[Immaturity and Dirty Realism…], cit. p.142
26 See ibidem
28 See ibidem
29 See. Marek Janiak, Sztuka Żenująca (sztuka która żenuje, zażenowanie jako sztuka) [Embarrasing Art (Art that Embarrasses, Embarrassment as Art)], Łódź Kaliska March 1981, issue no 2
31 Osieki 81. XIX Spotkanie Artystów Naukowców i Teoretyków Sztuki [Meeting of Artists and Scientists and Theorists of Art] was organized under the slogan Rytm sztuki, rytm czasu, rytm pokoleń [Rhythm of Art Rhythm of Time, Rhythm of Generations], The plein air took place between from the 3rd to yteh 17th September. 48 artists, theorists and art critics were in attendance. Amongst them were, among others. Jerzy Bereś, Maria Pinińska-Bereś, Andrzej Kostołowski, Jerzy Ludwiński, Janusz Bogucki, Józef Robakowski, Grzegorz Dziamski, Jan Świdziński, Andrzej i Małgorzata Paruzelowie, Anna Kutera, Romuald Kutera, Antoni Mikołajczyk, Andrzej Partum, Zygmunt Wujek, Tadeusz Wiktor, Teresa Bujnowska, Zbigniew Makarewicz, Piotr Kmieć, Andrzej Dudek-Dürer, Andrzej Dłużniewski, Jan Dobkowski, Ireneusz Pierzgalski, Zbigniew Warpechowski, In connection with the plein air an exhibition by Marcelo Bacciarelli entitled Sztuka 90 [Art 90] at the PRO Gallery in Koszalin as well as the exhibition Postawy 81 [Attitudes 81] in the BWA in Koszalin.
32 The action was part of an event Manifestacje Performance [Performance Manifestations] realised at the Gallery of Modern Art of Krystyna and Wojciech Sztaby. In the manifestations took part: Andrzej Dudek-Dürer, Władysław Kaźmierczak, Marek Konieczny, Fredo Ojda, Marek Sobociński, Wojciech Stefanik, Michał Bieganowski, Jan Świdziński, Artur Tajber, Anastazy Wiśniewski, Daniel Wnuk, Grupa M.U.R. The curator was Władysław Kaźmierczak. At the organising committee sat: Piotr Borowicki, Artur Tajber and Władysław Kaźmierczak.
33 See. Jarosław Lubiak, Niedojrzałość i brudny realizm…[Immaturity and Dirty Realism…], cit. p.135.
34 The main publication related to Kultury Zrzuty, is Pitch-in Culture 1981–1987, editor M. Janiak, CSW Zamek Ujazdowski, Warszawa 1989. Information concerning this can be found in a text by Jolanta Ciesielska in the catalogue of the exhibition Co słychać? [What’s Up?]. See. J. Ciesielska, Anioł w piekle (Rzecz o „Strychu”) [An Angel in Hell (About the Strych)], in the issue: Co słychać? Sztuka najnowsza [What’s Up? The Most Contemporary Art], editor. M. Sitkowska, Wydawnictwo Andrzej Bonarski, Warsaw 1989. Reprinted in: Bóg zazdrości nam pomyłek [God Envies Our Mistakes] editor. M. Janiak, Muzeum Kinematografii, Łódź 1999. Recently the foundation of Pitch-in Culture 4–19.04.2012 in Łódź, with the symposium Czym była/jest Pitch-in Culture? [What Was/Is Pitchin Culture?]. Then, also in Łódź, a seminar was organised entitled Spotkanie z Kulturą Zrzuty – ruchem artystycznym lat 80-tych i Jackiem Kryszkowskim, jednym z uczestników Kultury Zrzuty [A Encounter with Pitch-in Culture – an art movement from the ’80s, as well as Jacek Kryszkowski, one of the members of Pitch-in Culture] Recently there’s an internet website in operation at www. kulturazrzuty.pl here you can find a lot of information on this movement.
35 See Marek Janiak, Andrzej Kwietniewski, Adam Rzepecki, Siedem dni na stworzenie świata– projekt aktywności [Seven Days to Create the World – Activation Project], Łódź Kaliska March 1981, issue. 2
36 Gruszka [Grażyna] Herrou & Radołowicz, 7 dni na stworzenie świata – czyli żyć podwójnie [Seven Days to Create the World – i.e. Living Twice], in the issue: Pitch-in Culture 1981–1987…, cit., p. 35.
37 On the photographic documentation of the event the following slogans can be read: Ephemeral art forms fascinate me. I go and fart; Łódź Kaliska is a fleeing chance for each artist; Writing upon historic walls is supposedly a primitive contestation; The peak of Janiak’s excitement due to lack of screwing on the 6th day of the Seven Days; Each calling is an attempt at defining the death of what is known; Ass; I want to be a professional artist (poster). There is also a quote from a poem by Novalis Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren/Sind Schlüssel aller Kreaturen/ Wenn die, so singen oder küssen,/ Mehr als die Tiefgelehrten wissen. See. Bóg zazdrości nam pomyłek [God Envies Our Mistakes] cit. p. 39-41; Szczerość i blaga…[Honesty and Boasting…] p54-71
38 On the photographic documentation there is a line with the description Shadow of lunar 22:30 11.05. This is adocumentation from a performance by Janiak entitled Cień słońca – Cień księżyca [The Shadow of the Sun – The Shadow of the Moon], during which the artists marked on the wall the lines form the shadow rays of the sun and the moon.
39 An effect of Adam Rzepecki’s action.
40 It was the result of a four day performance by Kwietniewski in loyalty to workers, in which the artist defecated in the corner of a yard in front of a door where was located the WC
41 The performance Pizda [Cunt] is referred here where Janiak painted with some white paint the walls of a gazebo with vaginas, and then Kwietniewski ensured the ‘maintenance’ of it by painting over them in black.
42 Gruszka [Grażyna] Herrou & Radołowicz, dz. cit.
43 The event is also defined as the happening entitled Stativo.
44 Gruszka [Grażyna] Herrou & Radołowicz, dz. cit.
46 See. Marek Janiak’s manifesto Sztuka żenująca… [Embarrassing Art], cit. (editor Adam Rzepecki)]
47 Concerning Oskar Hansen’s Open Form see: Oskar Hansen’s Ku Formie Otwartej [Towards the Open Form], editor. Jola Gola, Fundacja Galerii Foksal–Muzeum ASP w Warszawie, Warsaw 2005
48 Of those associated with Hanson in the ’70s, we would have to mention first of all his students such as Przemysław Kwiek, Zofia Kulik, Jan Stanisław Wojciechowski, Wiktor Gutt, Waldemar Raniszewski. For detailed descriptions of selected activities under the concept of Open Form see: KwieKulik, editor. Łukasz Ronduda, Georg Schöllhamer, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw 2012
49 Described as a “akcja zarobkowa” [“paid action”].
50 The first paid action entitled Upadek zupełny [Total Fall] was realised on Kraków’s Main Square under the Adam Mickiewicz monument. In the performance the following took part: Andrzej Kwietniewski, Adam Rzepecki, Marek Janiak, Andrzej Świetlik, Andrzej Wielogórski, Gruszka [Grażyna] HerrouRadołowicz, Jerzy Frączek as well as people that happened to pass by and were willing to take part in the event.
51 The practical application of the startegies developed also took place later in the exhibition of Polish art entitled Falochron [Breakwater] organised during the international project Konstrukcja w procesie [The Construction Within the Process] in Łódź on November 8th 1981. Łódź Kaliska, in the meantime, conducted the action Kłódka [Padlock], which consisted of closing the gallery’s main doors with padlocks and forcing the viewers to find a way out of the gallery via windows, fire escape stairs. On the window of the gallery they left as sign saying Wyjdź z honorem [Exit with Honour].
52 In Osieki there were: Marek Janiak, Jacek Jóźwiak, Andrzej Kwietniewski, Adam Rzepecki. Accompanying them was also Jacek Kryszkowsk.
53 This term was invented by themselves in a publication summarizing the plein air in Osieki entitled Rytm Rytm sztuki, rytm czasu, rytm pokoleń [Rhythm of Art Rhythm of Time, Rhythm of Generations], Available in the archives of the Museum in Koszalin. See. Also: E. Kowalska, Kalendarium plenerów Osieckich 1963–1981 [Calendar of Plein-airs in Osieki], in the issue: Awangarda w plenerze. Osieki i Łazy 1963–1981 [The Avant-Garde in Plein-airs: Osieki and Łazy 1963-1981]. Polska awangarda II połowy XX wieku [Polish Avant-Garde in the 2nd part of the 20th Century] in the collection of the Museum in Koszalin, editor. J. Kalicki, E. Kowalska, W. Orłowska, R. Ziarkiewicz, Museum in Koszalin, Koszalin 2008, p. 315–318; M. Adamczak, Akcje, happeningi i wydarzenia na Plenerach w Osiekach (1967–1981) [M. Adamczak, Actions, Happenings and Other Events at the Plein air in Osieki (1967– 1981)], in the volume: Awangarda w plenerze…, [The Avant-Garde at the Plein air…] cit., p. 343–346, 361–364.
54 Greetings officials of the arts, Łódź Kaliska; As of today I am pretending to be an artist, Rzepecki 9.9.81; I would like to be a professional artist, Bereś; I am a primitive of contemporary art, Janiak 1873, dick; dick; artist’s dick; the artist, a dick
55 It should be emphasized that the gallery led by Adam Rzepecki would become an increasingly more important place in promoting art in general. The works of Jerzy Beres, Jan Świdziński, Wladyslaw Kazimierczak, Artur Tajber, Peter Grzybowski were presented there. Above all should be mentioned the famous action by Zbigniew Warpechowski on February 19th 1981at the Jaszczury Photo Gallery, entitled 4 wypowiedzi, 4 performance, podczas którego nabił swoją dłoń na gwóźdź [4 Expressions, 4 Performances, During Which Time he Jabbed his Hand on a Nail]
56 Andrzej Paczkowski has written specifically about Martial Law. See. A. Paczkowski, Wojna polskojaruzelska. Stan wojenny w Polsce 13 XII 1981–22 VII 1983 [Polish-Jaruzelski War: Martial Law in Poland 13 XII 1981–22 VII 1983], Prószyński and S-ka, Warsaw 2006
57 Grzegorz Zygier (1954) – he is a graduate from the Technical University of Kraków, for years he’s been working as a photographer at the Museum of the Jagellonian University. He works in photography, art, video and performance. In the years 1982-1987 he was actively linked with Pitch-in Culture, he was a participant and documentalist for all activities related to K.Z., he was a collaborator for the magazine Tango, he created the pages Hali Gali for Jacek Kryszkowski. Cit. www.kulturazrzuty.pl.
58 Krzysztof Niemczyk (1938–1994) – he was a cult figure of the Kraków artistic community. He was a versatile representative of the artistic avant-garde, he was a writer, a painter, a performer and a situationist. Since the early ’60s participated in the artistic life of Kraków. He recited his poems at the Jazz Club Helikon. He published his earlier stories in Forum and Krakowski Almanach Młodych [The Kraków Almanac of the Youth]. He is best known for Kurtyzana i pisklęta, czyli Krzywe zwierciadło namiętnego działania albo inaczej Studium chaosu [Courtesan and Nestlings, a Lampoon of Passionate Acting or the Study of Chaos], which he tried to publish with the Wydawnictwo Literackie publishing house in Kraków, since the mid-’60s. Still unpublished a typescript version of the book started to circulate among people. When Tadeusz Kantor read it he hailed Niemczyk as a genius and with full confidence introduced him into the environment associated with the artistic avant-garde associated with the Krzysztofory Kraków Gallery, as well as the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw. See. K. Niemczyk, Kurtyzana i pisklęta, czyli Krzywe zwierciadło namiętnego działania albo inaczej Studium chaosu chaosu [Courtesan and Nestlings, a Lampoon of Passionate Acting or the Study of Chaos], / Traktat o życiu Krzysztofa Niemczyka na użytek młodych pokoleń [Treaty on the Life of Krzysztof Niemczyk For the Use of the Younger Generation], edited by A. Ptaszkowska, Kraków
59 The photograph of Libera with a shaved head was published in the magazine Tango with the caption Dla Sztuki [For Art], See. Tango 1983, issue no.4.
60 The text was included in the first issue of Tango. See Tango no. 1, 1983.
61 Jacek Kryszkowski (1955–2006) – was a graduate at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Co-founder of Pitch-in Culture [Pitch-in Culture] as well as the Tango magazine, was a participant and organizer of most events at the Strych [The Attic], organizer of events in Warsaw – mainly in the studio of Dziekanka. Published a periodical of his making Halo Haloo [Hello Heloo] and was the main author of its texts. Biography available at www.kulturazrzuty.pl
62 The telegram was published along with the response of the recipient on May 20th, 1985 in Kryszkowski’s periodical Halo Haloo [Hello Heloo], Odpowiedź brzmiała – oby jak najdłużej [The answer lasted – as long as it could]. See. Halo Haloo No. 2, 1985.
63 More on the topic in: Komedianci. Rzecz o bojkocie [Comedians: Things About the Boycott] editor. Andrzej Roman, and Marian Sabata, Solidarność Walcząca–Prawy Margines [Solidarność FightingRight Margin], Warsaw 1989.
64 Among the places associated with Pitch-in Culture should be mentioned Świetlica Gallery at Zofia’s, the house of Andrzej Kwietniewski in Domaszków, Mała Gallery Warsaw, the Zbigniew Bińczyk estate in Teofilów, Wymiany Gallery, Wschodnia Gallery. See also www.kulturazrzuty.pl/miejsca
65 The inscription was made on the wall of Dziekanka Gallery in June 1982, during the Urodzin w Łaźni Miejskiej [Birthday of City Baths]. Interestingly Rzpecki mystified the date by seven years.
66 J. Ciesielska, Pitch-in Culture, in the volume: Pitch-in Culture 1981–1987…,. cit., p. 9.
68 Aside from such places we should include here Józef Robakowski and Małgorzata Potocka’s Wymiany Gallery, Janusza Zagrodzkiego Ślad Galeria II, Ryszard Waśko’s Archiwum Myśli Współczesnej [Archives of Contemporary Thought], Antoni Mikołajczyk’s Punkt Konsultacyjny [Point of Consultation], A. Paczkowskiego, R. Sowiaka’s Czyszczenie Dywanów Gallery. We have to also remember some 200 places (houses, studios, basements) in Łódź available for artistic pilgrimages organised between w September 2-3 by Zbigniew Warpechowski, Ryszard Waśko, Antoni Mikołajczyk, and Józef Robakowski. More about this artistic movement in Łódź see Notatnik 1989, issue no 1 i.e. Dorota Morawska’s thesis realised at the Typography Design Studio under the direction of doctor Stanisław Łabęcki, PWSSP Łódź 1989. (the materials is available at the CSW Zamek Ujazdowski archives, Warsaw).
69 Wywiady wciąż modne (nie tyko w TV) [Interviews Are Still Fashionable (not only on TV)] – with Tomasz Snopkiewicz 28 V 1988. wih Krzysztof Jurecki, in the volume: Pitch in Culture 1981–1987…, cit., p. 16.
70 It is worth mentioning the festival of independent cinema called Nieme Kino [Silent Cinema] 80 – This was a nationwide event organised in 8–19.02.1983. The organisers of the event were Marek Jóźwiak, Tomasz Snopkiewicz, Marek Janiak as well Józef Robakowski. Official participants of the festival were: an Gryka, Zygmunt Rytka, Jadwiga Singer, Lech Członowski, Tadeusz Ciesielski, Łódź Kaliska (Makary, Świetlik), Józef Robakowski, Jacek Jóźwiak, Antoni Mikołajczyk, Olaf Olszewski, Jerzy Koba, Adam Rzepecki, Ewa Zarzycka, Wacław Ropiecki, Krystyna Kutyna, Małgorzata Potocka. On the basis of photographs and texts contained in the publication we can infer that the following participants also took part in the event: Andrzej Partum, Zbigniew Warpechowski, Dorota Skaryszewska (now Monkiewicz), Jacek Kryszkowski, Anna Płotnicka. During the festival, aside form
films, projects, screenplays and sketches were shown. More on this event in the volume of Nieme Kino I [ed. joint], Łódź 1983.
71 See. Tango 1985, no 6.
72 Adam Rzepecki studied art history at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where he currently works as a photographer.
73 The screenplay was published in the journal Tango. See. Tango 1983, no 2
74 The apartment of Krzysztof Błońskie, the son of the rector of the Jagiellonian University, where the first issue of Tango was put together.
75 Can be reminiscent of the logo for the international movement Ruchu Oburzonych [Movement of the Outraged]
76 See. Tango 1983, no 1
77 Jerzy Truszkowski, Sztuka krytyczna w Polsce, cz. 2: Poezja Instytucji Pozainstytucjonalnych [Critical Art in Poland p.2: The Poetry of Institutions Beyond Institutions], Instytut Sztuki Krytycznej Stowarzyszenia Artystów Sztuk Innych – Municipal Gallery Arsenał, Poznań 1999, p. 9.
78 See. List of people associated with the Strych [The Attic] given by Jerzy Truszkowski. Jerzy Truszkowski, dz. cit.
79 Jacek Kryszkowski, Osobisty punkt obserwacji i… [Personal Point of Observation and…], Tango 1984, no 5.
82 Jacek Kryszkowski’s term derives from a text published in Tango. See ob. Jacek Kryszkowski, Sztuka zanieczyszcza środowisko. Do sprawców Kultury Zrzuty [Art Pollutes the Environment. To the founders of Pitch-in Culture], Tango 1985, no 6.
83 The plein-airs in Teofilów were organised on the estate of Zbigniew Bińczyk in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990.
84 Taken from an interview with Adam Rzepecki Kraków, 20.08.13
85 See. Łódź Kaliska, Mała Gallery ZPAF, Warsaw 1984 [exhibition catalogue]
86 See. Tango 1986, no 8.
87 See. Tango 1983, no 3.
88 In reference to the work of Kryszkowski entiteld. Osobisty punkt obserwacji i kształtowania fauny twórczej. Coś przeszkadza [Personal Point of Observation and the Shaping of the Creative Fauna, Something Bothers]. See. Tango 1983, no 2
89 The comment on this event was added by Kryszkowski in the second volume of his periodical Halo Haloo in the section miast wstępu [Cities of Admission]. See Halo Haloo 1985 no 2
90 The definitive expression of his critical attitude towards this kind of emerging environment was given by Kryszkowski in the published by him issue 18 of Tango. See. Jacek Kryszkowski, Sztuka zanieczyszcza środowisko (do sprawców kultury ZRZUTY) [Art Pollutes the Environment (to the founders of Pitch-in Culture)], Tango 1985, no 6.
91 Tomasz Snopkiewicz, O akceptację! [Concerning Acceptation!], Tango 1984, no 5.
92 The emergence of the term nihilism was perhaps inspired by the lecture Pozytywny Nihilizm [Positive Nihilism] given by Andrzej Partum during the Pielgrzymki artystycznej [Artistic Pilgrimage] in Łódź in 1983
93 The Porno Festival was organised by Zofia Łuczko on January 3rd 1985 for the occasion of the publication at the end of 1984 of a subsequent ‘pornographic’ issue of Tango. The following particpants took part in it: Jacek Kryszkowski, Marek Janiak, Jacek Jóźwiak, Tomasz Snopkiewicz, Zofia Łuczko, Adam Rzepecki, Włodzimierz Adamiak, Józef Robakowski, Jerzy Frączek, Kasia Piss, Małgorzata Potocka, Jolanta Ciesielska, Jerzy Truszkowski, Antoni Mikołajczyk, Andrzej Świetlik, Andrzej/Makary Wielogórski, Witold Krymarys. Documentation is available on the website www. kulturazrzuty.pl/wydarzenia
94 See. Adam Rzepecki, Pitch-in Culture z Nowej Huty albo moja obecność w sztuce [The Pitch-in Culture from Nowa Huta or My Presence in Art], Tango 1985, no 6.
95 It’s possible that Rzepecki’s utterance had inspired Kryszkowski to define the term ‘jokers’ that are trying to escape from art of such authentic artist as Cravan, Słodki and Baader. See. J. Kryszkowski, Nie miała baba kłopotu…, [The Old Woman didn’t Have Any Trouble…] Halo Haloo 1985, no 2.
96 There was for example a humorous letter by the manager of the BWA in Konin that regrettably informed Rzepecki that during the Łódź Kaliska exhibition his work entitled Motorem mojej sztuki jest SHL-ka [The Motor of My Art is an SHL] got stolen. The joke was in that the manager had consoled the artist in her letter by expressing that the theft was an indication of the public’s acceptance of his creative work. See. Adam Rzepecki, Pitch-in Culture z Nowej Huty albo moja obecność w sztuce [Pitch-in Culture from Nowa Huta or My Presence in Art], Tango 1985, no 6.
97 See. Pitch-in Culture, „Neue Kunst in Europa” (NIKE) 1984, no 3; J. Robakowski, Pitch-in Culture, in the volume: Nieme Kino II [Silent Cinema II], editors. Marek Janiak, Jacek Jóźwiak, Józef Robakowski, Tomasz Snopkiewicz, Antwerpia 1984
98 See. Sztuka Zrzuty [The Art of Pitch-in], in: PST! – sygnia nowej sztuki [PST! – Signs of New Art], ed. Józef Robakowski, Antwerpia 1985; Sztuka Zrzuty Uwaga, 1988, no 1; Sztuka Zrzuty, in the volume: PST! Czyli sygnia nowej sztuki (or Signs of New Art) 1981–1984, ed. Józef Robakowski, Akademia Ruchu, Warsaw 1989, p. 9–10.; Pitch-in Culture, in the volume: Sztuka poszukiwania decyzji. Dekada 1980–1990 [Art, the Search for Decisions: A Decade 1980-1990]. Chosen texts, [private edition. – moje archiwum, A. Ciesielski], Koszalin 1990, p. 13–15.
99 See. Piegi polskiej sztuki lat osiemdziesiątych [The Freckles of Polish Art From the Eighties] Uwaga 1988, no 1; Piegi polskiej sztuki lat osiemdziesiątych, in the volume: PST! Czyli sygnia nowej sztuki… [PST! Or Signs in New of Art],. cit., p. 10–20.; Piegi polskiej sztuki lat osiemdziesiątych w tomie: Sztuka poszukiwania decyzji, cit., p. 13–15.
100 Józef Robakowski, Pitch-in Culture, in the volume: Nieme Kino II [Silent Cinema II], cit.
101 For the first time Józef Robakowski could hear about Partum’s positive nihilism during the artistic pilgrimage organised in Łódź in 1983, where Partum gave a talk concerning the topic. Robakowski didn’t make any mention of this, but perhaps unconsciously benefited from the term “intellectual nihilism, coined by Jerzy Truszkowski’s own book baring that title.
102 Józef Robakowski, Komentarz [Commentary], Uwaga 1988, no 1.
103 See. Józef Robakowski, Pitch-in Culture, in the volume: Nieme Kino II [Silent Cinema II].
104 The first reading of a new theory of positive nihilism took place at the BWA Contemporary Art Gallery in Kraków in 1981 during the IX Spotkań krakowskich [IX Kraków Meeting]. See. IX Spotkania krakowskie, BWA Kraków, November 1981, in the volume: X Spotkania krakowskie, ed. Jerzy Hanusek, BWA Contemporary Art Gallery in Kraków, Kraków 1995, p. 41 i 77 [exhibition catalogue].
105 The Manifest zwierzęcy [Animal Manifesto] was written by Partum in May 1980 and was published in the form of a poster by Labirynt Gallery in Lublin. After having been unveiled by its author, it was also published the Art Forum Gallery in Łódź in May 1980
106 Concerning escaping the clutches of culture and its logic of progress in relations to the writings of Heidegger and Nietzsche, see. Gianni Vattimo, Koniec nowoczesności [The End of Modernity], ed. Monika Surma-Gawłowska, Universitas, Kraków 2006
107 Andrzej Partum, Manifest Pozytywnego Nihilizmu Sztuki [The Positive Nihilism of Art Manifesto], typescript available at the archives of teh Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski.
108 Jacek Kryszkowski, Listy [Letters], 1986
109 See. Hola Hoop 1985, no 3
110 Taken from an interview with Adam Rzepecki, 20.08.13, Kraków
111 In this context it is worth noting the title of the presentation of Pitch-in Culture in Poznań: Pitch-in Culture imienia Marii Konopnickiej [Pitch-in Culture In the Name of Maria Konopnicka], odNowa Gallery 1986.
112 I’m referring here to words spoken by the hero of Herman Melville’s Bratleby The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, where the protagonist exclamation “I’d rather not” has become a point of focus of many research studies. Recently in Poland Grzegorz Jankowicz made mention of it, he is the author of Wolałbym nie [I Would Rather Not]. An anthology published by Korporację Ha!art in 2009.
113 Friedrich Nietzsche argued that a tale about the non-existence of truth ceased to be a tale. In this context, the creation of a certain story and its perseverance can be more real than the reality created by the authority in power.
114 The event Pozdrawiamy urzędników sztuki [Greetings Officials of Art] that took place on April 9–11 1986. The people that took part in the event were, among others: Zbigmniew Bińczyk, Jolanta Ciesielska, Jerzy Dziubak, Jerzy Frączek, Brygida Grzybowicz, Maja Hagen, Marek Janiak, Henryk Jasiak, Jacek Jóźwiak, Jacek Kryszkowski, Andrzej Kwietniewski, Jacek Krzemiński, Zbigniew Libera, Zofia Łuczko, Andrzej Partum, Katarzyna Piss, Adam Rzepecki, Zygmunt Rytka, Agata Smalcerz, Tomasz Snopkiewicz, Zbigniew Szymaniak, Andrzej Świetlik, Jerzy Truszkowski, Tristian Tzara, Zbigniew Walichnowski, Andrzej Wielogórski, Anastazy Wiśniewski, the Wa He He group, Grzegorz Zygier, Jarosław Janowski, Jerzy Sitarz. See. Pozdrawiamy urzędników sztuki [Greetings Officials of Art], taken from the arch catalogue. Grzegorz Zygier. See. also www.kulturazrzuty.pl.
115 Rzepecki performed an action of the same title during a Pitch-in Culture plein air in Teofilów in 1990
116 Within this context the slogan that appeared on the transparency put up by Łódź Kaliska takes on a different meaning during the Festival Sztuki Potrzebne at the BWA in Kłódzko in 1986, as well as on ul. Grodska in Kraków during the ten year anniversary of the group celebrated in 1989, in these cases it sounds more like “God envies our mistakes”
117 In April and May of 1989 in Wschodnia Gallery in Łódź, the following subsequent individual performances were presented: Andrzej Kwietniewski (Pani Mela Kapcińska. Tilos [Miss Mela Kapcińska. Tifos]), Adam Rzepecki (Chyba czas już umierać [Maybe it’s Time to Die]), as well as Marek Janiak (Ćwiczenia wyzwalające [Liberating Excercises]).
118 Krzysztof Jurecki, Chłodnym okiem. Jubileusz 10-lecia [With a Cool Eye: The 10th Anniversary of the Jubilee]. Łodzi Kaliskiej, Kalejdoskop [Caleidoscope] 1989, no VII–VIII, p. 47.
120 Łódź Kaliska Museum was created by: Marek Janiak, Andrzej Kwietniewski, Andrzej Świetlik, Makary Wielogórski, and Adam Rzepecki. About its activities see. Krzysztof Jurecki, Łodzi Kaliskiej twórczość opowiedziana przez fotografię [Łódź Kaliska’s Art told through Photography], Exit 2000, no 1, p. 2153–2158. K. Jurecki
121 See. ibidem, p. 2153.
122 Jolanta Ciesielska, Na przekór amnezji [In Spite of Amnesia], in the volume: Łódź Kaliska Muzeum w tym fotograf Andrzej Świetlik [The Łódź Kaliska Museum and the Photographer Andrzej Świetlik], Galeria FF–Forum Fotografii, Łódź 1996 [exhibition catalogue].
123 For example the video performance documented in the film Every Dog Has His Day (1990).
124 We can mention the films: My Family 1990 and Królów jest bez liku [Kings Are a Dime a Dozen] from 1990, in which took part members of his family. We can see these as a continuation in determining the artist’s private life within creative categories. It’s also worth to mention films created earlier Romeo (1988) or Cóż arystokracie po małym fiacie [Why Would Artistocrats Need a Small Fiat] (1988)