Thank Goodness! The Lord must be really watching
Zbigniew Libera talks to Adam Rzepecki
ZBIGNIEW LIBERA: Adam, I would like you to tell me where are you actually from, what was your childhood like. And how the fuck did it come to it that you took interest in the art life?
ADAM RZEPECKI: I was born in 1950, December the 4th. I was to be Barbra. My parents wanted a girl, cause they already had a boy, but it didn’t work out. Then it didn’t work out for the third time, so mom has three sons and no daughter.
Where were you born?
In Kraków. First we’d lived at Rondo Mogilskie, than I moved here, to Podgórze.
A genius must always have his place and yours is here. Do you have any important recollection from your childhood?
One day a postman brought a letter from the editor’s office of “Płomyk” for a little punk, primary school, second grade. “Płomyk” was a magazine for children.
I remember. All young people read it.
Mom wasn’t home, so the letter was received by our neighbor, and since the neighbor received it, all the people knew Adam received the letter. Inside it, there was a very serious answer form the editor for a question: How to become a film director?. I’d sent this query to “Płomyk” after I saw “Krzyżacy”1, crowds of people had been going to see it. We all dressed as the film characters, obviously everyone wanted to be Zbyszko z Bogdańca, not necessarily Danusia…
… Not necessarily.
All this was so serious; swords and other stuff. I got pissed off pretty soon, and when we decided to go out and fight I took a big white cement sack, painted a cross than put together a sword to become…
… the knight of the Black Cross.
Of course. ‘Cause nobody wanted to be the knight of a Black Cross. They kicked the shit out of me. (laughs).
You asked for it.
And than I thought that somewhere inside me, there was an objection against this craze of everyone in one direction, that I wanted something else.
You weren’t a disciplined, polite pupil, you always went against the stream.
Than there was high school, several high schools, ‘cause of all those pranks on my mind they expelled me all the time. And than, fascinated by my Polish teacher I tried to get into Polish studies. Well, I didn’t get there and I’m glad up to now.
Thank Goodness! The Lord must be really watching.
Guess so. Than I took the first job as a touristic equipment storehouse keeper and the next year I was admitted to Art History.
How about the army? Were you unfit or did you come up with something?
Since you weren’t admitted to college instantly, they could have grabbed
you right away. It was a strange situation. In high school I had contacts with hippies and I always had longer hair which was fought against.
If you associated with Cracovian hippies you might have rubbed shoulders
with Krzysztof Niemczyk2?
Of course I did, there still are some photos here. I guess I took the most important one, the one with his naked ass sticking out – we walked around the town and he did stuff like that. Than I took many more photos. I remember there was Allen Ginsberg’s signature on the kitchen wall in Niemczyk’s flat in Siemieńskiego street3.
Niemczyk organized poetic parties and invited hippies. He always kept a low profile, but I was really close to him. For a certain period I even lived with him.
In my opinion that’s a very interesting track, because it makes us alike, in contrary to the bold fame of Kantor.
In the beginning of his career Niemczyk was extremely adored by Kantor, who at a certain point noticed that Niemczyk was starting to become his competitor, and Kantor always crushed his competition.
Don’t compete with the leader!
That’s why I like Jacek Kryszkowski’s idea to find Kantor’s PRON diploma4.
Let’s move to something else now. Please tell me how did you get to know your colleagues with whom you than established „Łódź Kaliska”?
To explain that we have to get back to my studies, to the ingenious professor Mieczysław Porębski, a great scholar. He once said he didn’t feel great art historian because he only educated approximately three or four of them, while the rest became reporters, artists, film makers, and even a few ministers. I also showed him gratitude for convincing me not to become an art historian but to do arts. As a student I started to run a gallery in „Pod Jaszczurami” club in Kraków.
How did it all start?
I made a darkroom in my house. I spent whole nights there, but mom couldn’t sleep, she heard noises, something disturbed her all the time. Luckily it turned out that my friend had friends at AGH5; they called themselves ‘SEM Creative Group’ and they had a darkroom and let me use it.
Sem like Semiology. They also run a gallery of photography in „Jaszczury”.
When was that exactly?
I met the group in 1977, and in 1978 its members scattered away so I took over. The program consisted of two trends; one was typically photographic, I called it sociological photography to continue SEM’s previous actions. The other trend was my proposition of, in my opinion, proper art. With all due modesty, Krzysztof Jurecki wrote in ‘Student’ magazine in 1990 that „Jaszczury”was one of the three most important galleries of that time.
I exhibited Zbigniew Warpechowski, Andrzej Partum, Jerzy Bereś and Ewa Partum. Władek Kazimierczak shattered windowpanes during his performance and I had a Performance for the workers and poets. I spilled butyric acid that stank so terribly that the club was closed for a week.
Then I received a letter, very official; they threatened me with court trial – I called it bureaucratic art.
In September 1979 I was invited for a photographic plein air to Darłowo, and there was the widely known scandal with the „Łódź Philharmonic”. We brought some instruments to play a night concert for all participants of the plein air. Because we had earlier received 22,40 zlotys from each
participant, for which we bought crates of vodka, the concert was prolonged until the morning. They threw us away, but we simply moved with the others to the PTTK hotel where the social life was thriving, because there was nothing interesting on the plein air. By accident you broke up the plein air. That means you hadn’t known’
Marek Janiak and the rest before that?
No. I mean I’d encountered him one year earlier in Poznań, on the student culture festival. The SEM group exhibited “My city Kraków’ than and I had my individual exhibition. I had been seeing them on various photographic meetings in Ameliówka near Kielce, but my friends from SEM tend to say about Janiak’s circle: ‘don’t make friends with them, they are hooligans, they drink vodka, they make fuss’. Than we went to Darłowo and it all started.
They still drank vodka there and made fuss but this time you made
friends. In that time you and Janiak made similar works, both of you
experimented with photography and that was something what brought
you together. There is one work of yours, very well known – a self-portrait
consisting of five photographs, that you took yourself – holding a camera
in stretched arms, I guess, and just: click, click, click, click, click
Yes, back hen I was fascinated with examining photography.
Mainly as a medium, is that right?
Yes. I was fascinated to what extent photography is a n objective medium. I remember that even during the Marshal Law when you found out about something, you wanted to buy a newspaper at once just to be able to read and see photos. Photos authenticate information although you know that
you can manipulate it the way you want.
You know, but as if you didn’t know.
I know, but as if I didn’t. They organized a highly regarded Polish photography competition „Golden Amber” where I sent my work, a theoretical text, there was such category. I received second prize. The text consisted of one sentence, which was a starting point for the scrutiny of the visual bombardment means’ objectivity; among other things, photography: Is There a Woman Here Who’s Been Raped and Speaks English?. These were the words of a BBC reporter who wanted to show the ‘real’ face of revolution in Angola. He wanted someone who spoke English, not to be forced to translate and the person should be a raped woman, to be able to tell an „objective” story. I also made a cycle of photographs – the diptychs. I took two photographs from a tripod in a certain point – one with standard lens, the other wide-angle.
You showed that the same thing may look different depending on how
you portray it.
That’s right, that you can manipulate the message. The clearest example was the diptych taken on Planty.6 In the first photograph taken with standard lens you can see a bench and a trunk of a tree, but in the other, the wide-angle one, you can see that the tree had been cut and was dying.
What was your attitude – your, Janiak’s ond other colleagues’ from Łódź Kaliska – to the artist of the previous generation who had been into similar things: Waśka, Robakowski, Paweł Kwiek or the medalists? Did you have anything in common in your thinking about the art?
My colleagues lived in Łódź, so they had stronger ties with them, just by watching the masters on one exhibition or another. At that time the closest to me was Andrzej Różycki, he talked about similar things. I proposed him an exhibition in „Jaszczury” and he said: „But what for, pal? Let’s talk, drink, I’ll explain everything to you”. It was a nice thinking, later present in the Pitch-in Culture – it doesn’t matter to make exhibitions. It is more important to mingle, talk.
It might be hard to understand today, why somebody doesn’t want toexhibit, why it is more important to talk. It might have been a result of thinking that the entire artworld is limited, all seats are taken, hierarchically, and that we can’t do nothing.
We didn’t treat them as masters, but maybe as someone who made impression on us.
No, it wasn’t about success, but about what they did. They opposed the traditional notion of photography and film. They were into medium of photography, examining whether something can be said through it. The films made by Robakowski in opposition to Zanussi and Wajda seemed
very interesting to us.
Robakowski invited me to a tv show on video art which he hosted, and he said that he had been watching my films with joy, despite the fact that some of them had punch lines in the end. He never needed a punch line, scrutinizing the medium was satisfactory. But one day we noticed, first on the Miastko plein air, then more clearly in Osieki that Józek assumed that boys from Łódź Kaliska were going to form his ‘court’. You know, Józek likes to have a ‘court’ around him, those with their eyes fixed on him, those who applause. In 1981, on the plein air in Osieki, we showed that the art system they proposed was in our opinion unfair. It was then when Józek started to calling us names: „Olechów boys”.
‘Cause we called ourselves Łódź Kaliska, but there’s also Łódź Andrzejów and Łódź Olechów. Olechów is, you know, kind of a…
Yes, yes, Olechów boys. Meaning provincial. So it was not all about art itself, but everything that’s behind art, namely distribution, what position was held by whom.
Yes, more about the policy of art. That they were great, because they were great indeed. We on the other hand were sure that what we did was important and that helped. We didn’t agree abut this type of dishonesty in art.
Dishonesty? Tell me what kind of dishonesty are you taking about?
In certain moment the formula of scrutinizing the medium was depleted. It became just a duplication in many versions.
Trying to reinvent the wheel.
Exactly. I think that with the self-portraits or diptychs I contributed to the art of that period, but this topic was really declining. You could have accepted their conditions and go places – salons, galleries, museums or quite the reverse.
Did you know than that you felt different, on the margins, that made you come together. And in what exact circumstances did you become a group? There must have been that moment when you sat down and said: ‘Ok, fuck it, now we’re gonna do this as a group, and we gonna be called this and that’.
This started in Darłowo, we felt like outsiders when we were expelled from the plein air. Then in September 1979 on the main street of Darłowo we made an action ‘Obstructing the street’. I think it was then when we concluded that we have something in common and together we can propose something new in art. And there’s nothing to look for among our older colleagues.
Correction – obstructing the street then flinging a white cloth over a group of people and…
The full title was ‘Obstructing the Street With the Black Ribbon to Make Fuzz, Fling the Cloth Over People, Tie Them Up and Kick Their Asses’. Then there was the idea for the name ‘Łódź Kaliska’. Janiak run a gallery in Politechnika Łódzka7, and there we made our first exhibition. Symbolically we called it From the beginning giving people to understand that we did away with what was before and we start over.
And there, I assume, you showed your medial works we talked about?
Yes, yes. There was also Jurek Koba with us in the beginning. There were
five of us, no, six!
It was: You, Janiak…
…Wielogórski, Kwietniewski, Świetlik i Koba. So how much does it make? Six?
Yes, that makes six.
How do you mean six, when it’s five of us?
All right, but wait, there was Koba.
Yes, there was Jurek Koba but he resigned from working in the group pretty soon to do some more serious stuff in life then the art.
He left and there is now five of you.
Now there’s four of us, Kwietniewski resigned from the membership in the group on his own demand in March 2007. In the Articles of Łódź Kaliska it is written that the membership in the group is derogatory and lifelong. First we made an exhibition of five independent thinkers who presented their own propositions. Then there was getting used to one another, often painful by the way.
Getting used to a common front?
You had to create something common from five individualities. The moment when you work on your own and somebody wants to rape your ingenuity… might feel hard, but we succeeded.
I have a feeling that the turning point marking the constitution of „Łódź Kaliska” was the Performance for photography. You were medial artist before that, and than you started doing something new under your own influence. It wasn’t any more about a photograph itself, but about the whole action to make a photograph.
It all started on the Polish Young Artists and Theoreticians Plein air in Świeszyno in 1980 where we were severely attacked both from left and right. We proposed ourselves, treating it as a type of fun, to make absurd actions in the medial style. Janiak examined the durability of a tower, Makary made three steps on the water, there were also more mocking actions.
Action Sausage for example.
Action Sausage was a clear sign that we are going down the path of eroticism. All these actions from Świeszyno in their visual form seemed, at first glance, still medial.
I remember photos of Robakowski for example with spilling milk and taking photos of it every few seconds; and yours that was to be someone’s portrait but it was so unclear, so blurred, that nothing could the hell be identified. It is to be medial, but seems a unsuccessful side of medialism.
We did it deliberately. We came up wit this, that if the local community came to see what these strange artists were up to, maybe it was appropriate to make friends with them. We announced, that all the inhabitants who decided to come to the pitch on Sunday were going to be photographed with the artists. We’d prepared this action much earlier, I’d printed posters in Kraków and we’d pasted hundreds of them, for everyone to see. We assumed, that it was going to be blurred or not in focus, long exposure. Because every photograph (even not in focus) is a record of an instant of
its creation. Maybe the local community was expecting a different photograph, as well as our avant garde colleagues.
While browsing some materials I noticed a strange action for celebrating the labor; it was created approximately at the same time as Performance for photography.
That performance was realized in September 1981 on the Świeszyno plein air and was called „Fighting for the eight hour working day”. I held a brick tied to a cord.
Isn’t it also a performance for photography? You kind of crossed the boundary, it is not a photography anymore, it is pure performance.
Performance exists only thanks to photographic record. As a document. You can’t resist temptation to manipulate it. I really held his brick for…
Maybe a little longer. Nevertheless you believe the photograph, you believe the caption, and for real, you are the first to know that I held the brick for five minutes, no more.
Your next significant work which appeared when ‘Łódź Kaliska’ already
existed was ‘Male and Other Art’. It wasn’t just one gesture, but a cycle of
them under a common title, which you published for example in ‘Tango’
We decided that after the plein air in Świeszyno we will add to the Performance for photography – me in Kraków, Janiak, Kwietniewski and Wielogórski in Łódź – several cycles of photographs to create one common exhibition. There was only one condition: there’s a camera in front of you, and you are to perform any activities documenting them photographically. Unconsciously I must had became interested in body art, and, as the art critics wrote years later, my main subject was a commentary on the first sings of feminist art in Poland; Maria Pinińska-Bereś and Ewa Partum.
I wanted to mock the feminist art, which does not exist, really. Because if there is the feminist art, than there is also the marine art, and miners create the mining art. Other art – if there is Male art, there is also Other art. These were the first ideas, than there were the other problems that
bothered me, namely the body, quasi-sexual behavior.
Can The Design of The Polish Father’s Monument be classified as a part of Male and Other Art. For me it results from it.
It is also a camera action.
By doing The Design of The Polish Father’s Monument you aimed at the same thing as feminists, to equalizing the situation, not to humiliating someone and hoisting the flag on the summit. You wanted to get the art back to art, put it back on the right track, to stop the senseless division to the male and female art.
Very well put, sir.
If you agree, that’s good. We are getting deeper, ‘Łódź Kaliska’ exists, there is the Martial Law, because ‘Tango’ is issued, every now and than there are our parties. And the Martial Law didn’t hamper those parties in many cities, although there was an emphatic ban of gathering without permission in groups over three people. Milicja could arrest you any time. The phenomenon of 80’s in Poland was that the artists in many cities gathered in numbers exceeding three, or even thirty people, or even sometimes hundreds.
Like with the censorship, you could publish anything without permission
as long the edition didn’t exceed 199 copies. That’s why ‘Tango’ was issued
in the edition of 200 copies.
For a certain time you pretended to be an artist.
I still do.
Indeed. You wrote: I still consistently pretend to be an artist. What did you mean by that?
It all started on this famous plein air in Osieki in September 1981, when we had all this avant-garde crème de la crème artist around us, and we saw this gigantic chasm between us. We gave voice to it by hanging a banner on the main square of the plein air saying The temple of embarrassing and other art or writing on a wall Best regards to the clerks of art. It was then when I wrote on one of the buildings From now on I pretend to be artist. By the way, two or three days later it was covered with another inscription Stalin Boy. The meaning of my statement was that you can take the attributes of an artist: the way he looks, the way he behaves and what he does. So the best you can do is to imitate the whole flock, be like them.
To be an artist you had to pretend to be an artist.
Yes, yes. I had to pretend to be an artist. And I did it consistently. In Łódź in 1981 on the 'Falochron’ exhibition accompanying Construction in process I wrote I still consistently pretend to be an artist, and a year later in „Dziekanka’”gallery I wrote With difficulty, though consistently I pretend
to be an artist.
I think we can understand that. You also made more complicated actions,
like for example the one, when you are in the Cracovian folk costume with
a bulb, and when you say something important the red bulb flashes. Than
in one moment you also say that you pretend to be an artist.
I came to the conclusion, that the society is dumb and not knowledgeable about art, so I lit the bulb in the appropriate moments for them not to run out of patience.
You inspired yourselves, you didn’t need society. You often referred to Janiak’s works, to his comments and statements. On the cover of the first edition of ‘Tango’ there was Our Lady of Częstochowa with added mustache. Janiak added mustache on the chocolate box with a Mona Lisa reproduction, he literally repeated the Duchamp’s gesture. You took this gesture and introduced it into the right context, namely you added mustache to Our Lady of Częstochowa. Than you wrote a film script in which you add mustache to Our Lady and then to everyone else. You also wrote another script – somebody knocks at your door, you open and see Marcel Duchamp and Tristan Tzara, so you say: „I know DADA, please go out”8. These are at least three things with Our Lady which I like.
Our deceased colleague Zbyszko Trzeciakowski told me how when he had been handing out the first edition in Poznań among people involved in the opposition, he’d got a sudden punch in he face. He’d asked: “What’s going on? Why?” For Our Lady with Mustache.
To understand my work you have to refer to the period when it was created, to the Martial Law, when the society was clearly divided into independent and pro-government.
I can see three options. Independent, a minority, and that was us. Dependent upon the Church and the third, dependent upon the Communists.
We said back then that there is the red art and the black art. When you joined the red, the galleries, museums and critics where wide open.
Exactly. The wild patriotism send the others to the Church, because there were exhibitions in the porch. By the way I would be worth tracing how they said: “forget it” and escaped as soon as the Marshall Law ended.
These Church exhibitions ended pretty soon.
That’s why we proposed the third direction, that is not to care about the other two. In our opinion the artistic freedom was more important than the political one. Because it doesn’t matter that you have a political freedom if you don’t have an artistic freedom in yourself.
If you don’t have this freedom, we can’t speak about the other one.
'Our Lady with Mustache’ should be regarded in that exact context, as a statement supporting one of the sides. I can tell you that I thought up this work early in the morning, half awake, half asleep, I was terrified.
Yes, and only several days later I decided to do it.
I understand it very well. Whenever I’d done things which later appeared a great fucking scandal, or I don’t know what else – I’m not a child or mentally sick – I was sane enough to understand the gravity of my action. I also trembled and I wondered why, but usually this tremble that existed in me as the first witness of my work made me realize that it is no worth hiding or running away. That you have to show it.
This work was known from ‘Tango’ and other publications, even my friend, Krysia Czerni showed it among other works at her KUL lecture in Lublin during the strict Martial Law to the art historians who took it as…
…one of the works.
Exactly. The scandal broke twenty years later on the ‘Irreligion’ exhibition in Brussels. None of those who have attacked saw the work. I didn’t go to Brussels – I learned how the exhibition looked from the photographic documentation. Janiak is still quite cowardly and he was afraid how people
would react to my work so he placed a coat tree in front of the painting chosen by the exhibition curator. The was a coat hanging on it and an inscription Hello, Mr. Marcel, showing exactly how this work should be regarded. Despite all that suddenly the Order of Saint Paul celebrated a Mass and the archbishop Glemp started praying. The greatest scandal was the art historian’s review, Andrzej Skrodzki’s in ‘Sunday’9 wrote that: „Adam Rzepecki repeated the Salvador Dali’s gesture”. (laughs). This was a real scandal!
Excellent (laughs). I was there and saw everything. Kazio Piotrowski’s exhibition was to show Polish tradition, not only the contemporary art but also the historical. The contemporary part was however ten times bigger. Kazio wanted to show that the irreligious trend existed. In the irreligion – a strange, twisted word – is about no interest in religion whatsoever. The fact that your work caused a scandal doesn’t surprise me so much, but I’m much more surprised why Marek Sobczyk’s painting The Flagellation of Christ caused such a stir, being so classical. Marek Sobczyk told me that this mother asked him than: “Son, what have you done that you are called a sinner in the Church?” I think that this exhibition is not credible, in my opinion the curator wanted to avoid the scandal. When we were going there, they advised us that you can’t cause any scandal in Belgium, because no one gives a shit there and everyone is very tolerant. You know. Making an exhibition in a church.
And this exhibition showed that they are not fucking tolerant at all, that you can’t do anything, even though the priest himself proposed to put a part of the exhibition in the working church. The exhibition consisted of several spaces, Alterier 340, where the largest part of the exhibition was put, than the desecrated interior of a medieval church, where no masses were celebrated, and showing hard stuff there was acceptable. But on the initiative of a parish priest in a Catholic sluggish worker’s district Jette, the third part was put in an operating church. I remember, I couldn’t sleep after the opening. I woke up early in the morning, drank my coffee and suddenly the employees of a gallery organizing the ‘Irreligion’ came and said in Polish: ‘This sacristan got pissed and during the night, after the opening, he scribbled every work in this church with a marker, made comments everywhere, he must have climbed a ladder.’
On scraps of paper?
No! On the wall, right next to the works. This church was odd, a cathedral from the ’30s, gigantic, marbled walls. The marble was bloody red, looked like headcheese. You simply stand in the pile on meat. To avoid a camedown, they made a small temporary altar, because few people came there. The old altar stood behind and they didn’t use it. In the middle of the temple they placed Klaman’s work, an iron booth with a fish tank in the shape of a cross, and inside there was a brain in formalin. When the priest presented the Host he saw this cross made of brain. Strange, isn’t it? He wanted it so he had it, but his own church didn’t withstand it! So these employees ask: ‘What to do?’. And I’m there awake, the other artists sleep. So these people finally decide to go there and erase all the scribbling.
I was a censorship. In it’s intention quite positive. Clear the place and say:
„No. There was no scandal here”. But how can any censorship be positivebin any sense? I went with them to the church, but unfortunately I didn’t take the fucking camera, so I only managed to see the sacristan’s notes. He swore badly, I don’t speak French, but I understood some sentences – he put some cocks into the priest’s ass.
A beautiful example of the art bringing a response. I would have left them.
During the action in the Cracovian folk costume with a bulb on your head,
you said an important sentence: ‘Most of all, I’m a Polish artist’. This associates with Our Lady, with Catholicism, doesn’t it?
A girl came to me once, because she wanted to interview a Cracovian artist. So I told her I was not a Cracovian artist.
Cracovian? It’s like a Cracovian sausage!10
Or Cracovian breakfast. I said that I’m a Polish or a world-wide artist and I do not accept her proposal.
During one performance you stand in one white and one red sock.
It had been deep in me in some way; both our sluggish society, and we,
the sluggish artists. There was the border and you didn’t know what was
beyond it. We’ve already talked about Kantor who brought with him some
novelties whenever he managed to go abroad, and he painted like they
did in the West, in France.
We as ‘Łódź Kaliska’ managed to succeed because none of us graduated the Fine Arts Academy and we earned our living some other ways. Thanks to this we could be more independent in thinking about art. In the moment you wake up in the morning as a painter and say: ‘Fuck, I have to make a painting, but I don’t have any idea what to paint, I have to paint, because the gallery is waiting, because I have to have the money to subsist…
…the best thing you can do is to paint the same exact painting as the last that was sold (laughs)!
We had that freedom. Life wasn’t easy, but we valued our independence. Although I had a chance to emigrate to Sweden, with good livelihood, I resigned because I thought I had to be here, to be a Polish artist. Of course you always thought: ‘Why is it so fucking bad here in Poland?’
In Sweden you would have been one of the many you never notice, you don’t care about, probably you wouldn’t have a chance to reach the top of the Swedish art as it happened in Poland.
How do we know that?
I tell you that.
If you tell me that, I believe you. So, you concur that my choice was good?
Yes, it was good. I’m sitting here and I’m talking to you and I didn’t leave
But you lived in Greece, you’ve been to Africa.
I have been to many places, I could have stayed there, but the real life, silly to say that, is here. (laughs) Teofilów plain-airs were extremely important activity of Pitch-in Culture.
I would like to talk about a few things, you did there, about the last action
‘Crossing the Red Sea’ for example.
You’ve been there too?
No, I haven’t.
I asked all the participants of the plein air to come to the river Pilica just 15 minutes after I’d left the community center. When they appeared I was already on the other side of the river in dry clothes and a small cap on my head. I swam back crossing the Red Sea which that time hadn’t opened up. In the last moment I noticed that I must have misled them, that this was Pilica not the Red Sea, so I quickly took a box of red poster paint and a brush to dye the river with an appropriate color. The other action was to be more fun but unfortunately I got scared. I planned to bend a birch-tree, drive a peg in the ground to tie the birchtree to it, then to tie myself and cut the cable. I was to be one of my works called „My first step in the space”. Unfortunately I couldn’t bend the birchtree, because I was too big. Andrzej Różycki told me than, he knew a story of a man who was forced to be tied to a birch-tree and he died. So that’s good I didn’t do it.
Sure that’s good, you’d be fucking dead too!
I was ready to do that. It didn’t work out. By the way, I once made similar action in ‘Galeria Wschodnia’ celebrating the 10th anniversary of ‘Łódź Kaliska’. I brought from Kraków quite a lot of stones, pebbles, put them in a sack under the ceiling, burnt the fuse and I sat under it waiting for the stones to come down on me. Well, they did fall, but it took such a long time, that I didn’t hold it and when they started to fall I stepped aside and survived.
Your activity – ‘Łódź Kaliska’ and ‘Pitch-in culture’ becomes more and more radical and at certain time the actions took a dangerous, life–threatening form. Apart from your performances I’d like to recall Janiak balancing on the edge of the balcony. Your previous works had been more humorous, so why have you started risking at certain time? Someone could say, that the guy had a mental breakdown, but that wasn’t it. We clearly felt that, especially me and Janiak, that we approached a dangerous boundary, and that we want to do that, that we want to prove ourselves. The time comes when a man comes to the conclusion that he has done so many things that there is no sense to go further.
My friend Paweł Filas once asked me: ‘Since you added mustache to Our Lady, why do you get yourself into more trouble? That’s enough.’ I think he was joking. I always felt this profound necessity to do something more and I am aware that I do it for myself. I don’t give a shit about society.
I would like to ask you about your conscious association with dadaism. At certain moment the ‘Pitch-in Culture’ reached a stage in which Dada was only a historical art to compete with.
Professor Porębski once said that art always really is about art, that the artist must in certain way refer to the predecessors, even in the first stage of Storm and Stress, when he knows that what he does is important and looks for allies. It is then when he deals with the predecessors, uncertain, he looks for support. Because I am an art historian it was much easier for me to find myself in the Duchamp’s orbit. In 1986 in Gauss Gallery in Stockholm I made a performance ‘How to make art out of pornography’. I managed to see Duchamp’s urinal in Moderna Museet and piss into it.
That’s where the scripts with Duchamp were from.
To feel more secure on the ground you existed. Kryszkowski wrote about
A totally unknown figure of the Zurich movement.
It is a known fact that he existed, but nobody knows what happened to him. Kryszkowski fictionalizes Słodki and shows that if he was a part of Dada he would be like Słodki – nothing would remain after him and nobody would even know what he was doing. At certain moment there is a splitting in the circle; Kryszkowski attacks Janiak for a kind of cowardice and rational precaution, for he fact, that he never gives himself to art totally, won’t fall into the abyss, as he himself did. I feel that you were closer to Kryszkowski.
It’s Janiak’s mental make-up, he wants to be accepted, important, he wants to be a senator or a director. But I admire what he does for Łódź as a senior architect of the city. ‘Łódź Kaliska’ was five men who were getting used to one another all the time. In the 80’s Janiak/Kwietniewski duo led the fashion. I was attacked by them and at certain moment I came to the conclusion that I had to step aside, and by the end of the 80’s this eventually happened.
I think that this little conflict – you against a pair Janiak/Kwietniewski, them against you, was a certain strategy, which turned out to be very productive. Your clash generated many new situations. When Kryszkowski entered his ultra-radical period, he was fed up with Janiak and severely criticized him, you turned out to be the only partner for him.
Kryszkowski noticed, that we can be together, talk, because we think alike. I don’t know if I could afford similar gestures – I think about his total resignation from doing art – for which I admire him. That’s where our auction came from, which we made in ‘Mała Galeria’ in Warsaw in 1984.
Selling all your art.
I even sold Warhol’s serigraph – which I brought from Venice Biennale – for 1 zloty, ‘cause nobody wanted to pay less. They bid down, not up.
Tell me more about the gunshot celebrating the 70th anniversary of Cabaret Voltaire. Do you have the radio recording?
The bugle-call is transmitted in Polish Radio directly from the tower of the St Mary’s basilica. The trumpeter always plays in direction of four cardinal points. There is a moment in which he closes one window, and comes to the next one, and after it is open there is silence. I decided to take advantage of this moment to give the world a sound signal in remembrance of the anniversary of Cabaret Voltaire. I also had a friend from the Art History institute whose parents lived on the Mariacki Square, opposite the basilica. I cunningly went to the roof – I knew that the gunshots would be far more audible if fired from the roof. I had four self-prepared petards and a percussion-cap gun. I was very nervous and the first petard didn’t go off, but the rest was successful. Truszkowski confirmed that he heard gunshots in the radio.
It’s good that you had at least one witness who heard the gunshot. It is widely known that at 12 o’clock a trumpet bugle-call is transmitted, almost a sacred thing, and you brilliantly took advantage of it. You gave a signal in a country where no signal can be given. The military intelligence could get interested.
Now, tell me what is really the motor of your art?
In the first plein air in Teofilów I invented a banner The motor of my art is SHL11 Than this statement appeared in ‘Tango’. It was mocking but it somehow came into being and now the only problem is translating it into another language.
Nobody understands what a SHL is.
That’s right. Do people know what a SHL is these days?
I’m afraid they don’t, but if you show them how this motorbike looks like, they are going to know. And you showed them. I guess this was in the early 80’s.
I don’t know when it had been, but I remember, that after some time I received a signal from a Polish Sculpture Center in Orońsk, that they would like to have my SHL in their collection as an object, namely a motorbike with a statement painted on a banner. I agreed. They looked for an original SHL for half a year on different auctions and finally they gave up and assembled one SHL out of two.
But why SHL? I have my own assumption, but I’d like you to tell me.
When you are a boy, you must have a motorbike. In my childhood SHL was the most popular, we all dreamed about them. Then came the MZKs, and then also Lambrettas. I had a cousin who bought a MZK, man, there was no girl who.…
Yes, a motorbike was a boys’ dream. The first motorbike I have ever driven was WFM, but than I quickly changed to SHL and I was really impressed by it because it had a mudguard that was bent on the bottom. Like in Junak.12 For a 12 years old boy SHL was a hell of a ride.
I didn’t have any good experiences with motorbikes. Once my brother let me drive but he didn’t tell me how to brake and unfortunately I stopped quite forcedly on the tree. By the way much more tragic event took place during a confidential meeting of ‘Łódź Kaliska’ in the Sudeten Mountains at Kwietniewskis. He had a tractor and my colleagues from ‘Łódź Kaliska’ put me on that tractor, so I started to drive it, but again, I didn’t know how to break, how to change gears, and this tractor started making smaller and smaller circles, and finally it rushed into a pile of wood and almost turned over. Kwietniewski came, expelled me from the plain–air, swore badly, and than it turned out that he bought this tractor with his brother-in-law and he was simply afraid of him. But I just didn’t know how to break. I also didn’t have any good experience with other motorized vehicles.
I always remember you as a man who had two passions – the mountains an fishing. Your mountain climbing ended up with elevating and changing a summit – each time you brought a stone with you to Mount Rysy. How high did you elevate it, a meter?
On my geography lessons I got pissed that the highest mount in Poland is 2499 meters high. If it was 2500 meters everyone would remember. That’s the idea behind bringing the stones. Have you ever been to Mount Rysy?
Of course I have.
Try to recall the place where the highest point is. There are a lot of granite stones there, so bringing another stone to the top is quite an effort. But I was bringing and filling in the cracks. One day, during one of my expeditions I met Wojciech Gąsienica-Brycyn, the director of The National Park and he asked: „Adaś, what are you doing here?” I said that I was just walking around. You know, I wouldn’t tell the director. But than I found courage and explained my idea. He didn’t understand entirely, but he said: „Adam, I have only one request, if you bring those stones there, bring the granite stones, not the other ones, because there are only granite stones there”.
Yes, that meant for me that I had an unofficial permission from the director of The National Park.
The green light. I has never been officially acknowledged, but I think that the notation of the Mount’s height must be changed.
Once in ‘Gazeta Krakowska’ there was a big interview with me, and I told about it too. A girl who interviewed me called me than saying that the editor-in-chief wants to meet me. They had an idea to hire a bus or two for the readers of ‘Gazeta Krakowska’ and mount the peak from the Slovak side where the passage is much easier. Each person would grab a stone, climb the peak and add it to the pile.
Two meters in one go.
But I didn’t agree. I wanted only the idea to remain.
You could hire a helicopter and throw down the stones. You are also an enthusiastic angler. Recently quite seldom. I remember a film in which you sit very focused in the bath tube, than the camera moves back and it turns out there are fishes with you in the tub. This and the other films, you made where quite funny. How do you mean?
They were extremely serious.
Very serious, but at the same time funny. You made them in collaboration with Grzesiu Zygier, didn’t you?
I made only one film with Grzesiu Every dog has his day. He was an acquaintance of my colleaguesfrom SEM. An engineer. He hanged out withthe „Jaszczury” gallery of photography. I made friends with him, than we went to Łódź together.
And this is how you recruited one man to the Pitch-in Culture.
There was also Henio Jasiak from Tarnów. Then he vanished and started some company.
There is one more intriguing thing – ‘Exhibition for Dwarfs’ shown in the beginning of the 80’s. You hang matchboxes on threads, on the height that was suitable for dwarfs. What was on them?
It was an idea to not to show me, but the others, for promoting the Pitch-in Culture. I’ve shown a record of the Pitch-in Culture.
There is a beautiful photograph with professor Sandauer, still alive, kneeling on your exhibition.
He wasn’t kneeling but reclining.
But in the right position to look at the art, I think.
The exhibition is described by a banner that appeared there: ‘Only dwarfs may look at the art without needless effort’. So if you can’t afford intellectual effort to understand art than…
I remember your last things from that time – video art, than I lose sight of you. I don’t know what did for many years. I think that the Pitch-in Culture ends approximately in 1990 – the last plein air in Teofilów takes place. Than there is the beginning of he 90’s and we are gone, all this is gone. What did you then, tell me?
I don’t remember (laughs)
Zbigniew Libera & Adam Rzepecki
Kraków, February, 2013
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
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
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,
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,
tehhouse 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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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 Kapciska. Tilof [Miss Mela Kapciska.
Tifol]), 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)