Cracoviana. Virtual video exhibition from the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery Collection
In the latest exhibition from the Bunkier Sztuki Collection we present films whose topics are Kraków-related. The exhibition covers works artists from Poland and abroad. The narrative moves through the city as it shows its sweeping vista: society, architecture, nature, history, aesthetic. The display is an alternative to a city walk where you would follow places, events and people which inspired the artists.
Łukasz Skąpski surveys the residents of post-war Kraków housing estates about life in local communities. Krzysztof Wodiczko gives the floor to people who have experienced various sorts of trauma and confronts the audience in the expanse of the Market Square with painful stories. Leopold Kessler experiments in the Nowa Huta public space and watches tourists through a hidden camera’s eye. The Rafani collective takes a stroll in the city centre and engages in banal activities that serve as a hidden part of the performance. Meanwhile, Cecylia Malik subtly explores Kraków peripheries on her boat trip spanning six rivers to show the beauty of nature but also its dramatic pollution, a result of human actions. Olof Olsson, inspired by the bell Sigismund that hangs in the Wawel Cathedral, spins a story of the Kraków’s cultural monument. Karolina Kowalska uses scenes from the film version of Stanisław Wyspiański’s The Wedding to assemble a collage. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries duo unconventionally commemorates the city in their visual poem.
The exhibition depicts Kraków as a place of varied landscape and potential, more than a large tourist destination. The works refer to the city as seen from residents’ perspective, but also from that of incoming foreign artists, for whom Kraków gets to be a zone of creative experimentation.
A still from the video Kraków City Guide, part 1, 2005, by Łukasz Skąpski
Łukasz Skąpski, Kraków City Guide, parts 1–3, 2005–2006, video, 7′51″, 6′10″, 3′48″
The work is the outcome of a two-year project completed by the artist on Kraków housing estates. The residents of post-war housing projects briefly remark on what life is like in their local communities. Kraków city dwellers conjure up a mostly positive image of the neighbourhood and declare their estates are good places to live. Their words are interspersed with blocks of flats, facilities and green areas as seen from the window of a moving car. The films represent insight into a less popular section of Kraków urban tissue, one that is no tourist destination. The sociological lens deployed by the artist let him indicate the relation between a person and the surroundings the person lives in.
Łukasz Skąpski, Volvo, 2007, video, 7′35″
A Volvo car abandoned in a housing estate car park is subjected to gradual destruction by random passers-by. The damaged vehicle seems to incite one person after another to ever bolder acts of hooliganism. With his typical detachment, the artist makes a reference to the feel of life in a housing project. Law-breaking incidents sadly happen to be part of its charms all too often.
Łukasz Skąpski (1958) – creator of installations, objects, video films, photos, performances. A co-founder (with Oskar Dawicki, Igor Krenz, Wojciech Niedzielko) of Supergroup Azorro, active from 2001 to 2010. The group’s output was based on ironic commentary to art-world mechanisms. The 1990s were the time the artist was fascinated by optics, researching the phenomenon of light and constructing unusual optical instruments. Łukasz Skąpski’s videos mostly tackle social and political themes.
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Town Hall Tower, Kraków 1996, 1996, video, 11′53″
Video documentation from a public screening organized on the side of Town Hall Tower in Kraków’s Main Square. The artist gives the floor to people who experienced various types of harm. Concealed for years, facts about drug abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, intolerance against sexual orientation see the light of day. The anonymity of those who suffered remains respected while their hand gestures and symbolic props in their palms impart a universal character to the stories they tell.
Krzysztof Wodiczko (1943) – photographer, videographer, art theoretician, author of several dozen public-space screening. He is interested in social, political and ethical topics. His socially engaged art practice complemented with theoretical reflection addresses current issues. The artist approaches problems that are painful for a given community, such as homelessness, migration, addiction, violence, criminality, exclusion.
Leopold Kessler, The Life of Others, Nowa Huta, Kraków, 2009, video, 8′29″
Crazy Guides tourist agency arranges Nowa Huta tours. The programme includes a milk bar visit, a Trabant ride and being treated to cucumbers and vodka in a typical Nowa Huta flat from the ‘50s. It is opposite the entrance to such a flat that the artist illegally mounted a camera to record the arrivals. People entering the past were filmed for two weeks. For Leopold Kessler’s actions in the public space, the city is always a zone for experimentation.
Leopold Kessler (1976) – visual artist, video, photo, installation maker. Author of actions and sometimes of semi-legal interventions in the public space. He goes deep into city topographies, subtly indicating his presence. What he examines are the borders between public and private spaces. He lives and works in Vienna.
Rafani, untitled (On Invisible), 2015, performance with video documentation, 25′37″
Performance by Czech art collective Rafani simultaneously unfolded in one of Bunkier Sztuki Gallery exhibition rooms and the surrounding urban space. The film documents the events from the viewpoint of the audience invited to the gallery. There, Jan Paweł Kowalewicz, Kraków poet and slammer, reads a text that is at the same time an instruction for performers to carry out simple actions. Five performers walking around the city centre is on the line with the reader. Witnessed by passers-by, the artists perform easy but absurd actions: laying on the ground or spinning around. On the one hand, the performance shows intended reception of art by viewers gathered in the gallery; on the other, it shows unintended contact with it personified by residents and tourists walking down the streets. As it only records half of the event, the performance documentation leaves the real course of the action as a matter of conjecture.
Rafani – art collective set up in 2000 in Prague. It is currently made up of: Luděk Rathouský, David Kořínek, Jiří Franta and Ondřej Brody. The artists author video, performances, artistic actions and interventions. They are interested in the social and political domains. In the public space they usually perform in uniforms and the art forms of their actions resemble political demonstrations, pickets, rallies or official speeches.
The purchase was made as part of the task Remembering. Bunkier Sztuki Collection 2015. Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Cecylia Malik, Piotr Pawlus, 6 Rivers, 2012, video, 53′
The film presents the artist’s cruise down the six rivers that flow through Kraków. The journey took her over the Vistula, Rudawa, Wilga, Dłubnia, Prądnik and an underground river. The film is stylised as a documentary that gives an account of inland water bodies. Cecylia Malik’s guide was an ornithologist, Dr Kazimierz Walasz, who the artist travelled the rivers with in an inflatable tourist boat initially. It wasn’t until later that she went on a journey on her own in a home-made boat. The artist discovers picturesque secluded spots as she travels down narrow streams among the lush greenery of riparian forests. The bucolic landscape disappears when the travellers can barely move across polluted waters. The work forgoes the tourist centre and shows a periphery landscape, alien even to Kraków residents. The film depicts the aquatic environment in which rivers are cities’ ecological element on the one hand, and are treated by people as dumpsters on the other.
Cecylia Malik (1975) – painter, performer, curator, educator and activist. She combines artistic practice with ecological actions and social activism. The artist staunchly defends the nature’s natural look as she opposes mass tree felling and champions keeping river courses natural and the Zakrzówek ecosystem intact. Her best-known environment protection-related projects are: 365 Trees (2009–2010), Modraszek Collective (2011), Braids of the Białka (2013), Polish Mothers on Tree Stumps (since 2017), River Sisters (since 2017). She lives and works in Kraków.
Piotr Pawlus – film operator, author of cinematography in documentary, short and feature-length films. He lives and works in Kraków.
The purchase was made as part of the task Let’s share the collection! Expanding the Bunkier Sztuki Collection, co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Olof Olsson, Is It Too Late Now?, 2014, filmed performance with audio-visual documentation, 67′
The performance refers to the history of and historic monuments on Wawel Hill. It is related to the project Wawel Castle Contemporary Art Centre, which started in 2012 – a fictional institution of modern art situated on the hill. Its initiators were curator Aneta Rostkowska and artist and curator Jakub Woynarowski. The artists who participated in the project would come up with narratives and documentations inspired by aspects of Wawel Hill.
Olof Olsson’s story has its origin in the bell Sigismund located in the Wawel cathedral. The artist analyses the artefact’s physical structure and musical tone and reflects on the social importance of the bell. He refers for instance to The Wedding, a play by Stanisław Wyspiański, and to the score composed by Stanisław Radwan for the film version of The Wedding, directed by Andrzej Wajda.
Olof Olsson (1965) – he was initially engaged in journalism, documentary photography and chemical engineering. He studied linguistics, philosophy and translation theory. He used to stage office space-styled exhibitions, where he would simulate rendering actual services. Olof Olsson is first and foremost a conceptual artist and spoken word performer who gives lectures, talks, stand-ups, talk-shows, Q&A sessions. He lives and works in Copenhagen.
The purchase was made as part of the project Art experience. Expanding the Bunkier Sztuki Collection. Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Karolina Kowalska, Rave, 2008, video, 4′20″
The video is a collage of selected scenes from Andrzej Wajda’s 1972 film The Wedding. All scenes have been sped up and some have been played backwards. A significant part of the work is its soundtrack, which gives the montage sequence an aggressive expression. To this end, the artist made use of Reverse Tunes Mixtape by Bruno Tozzini from 2008.
Karolina Kowalska (1978) – photographer, graphic artist, installation, video, animation, public-space project maker. The artist often combines visual arts, text and music in her projects. She makes use of photography, film, creates site-specific installations taking into consideration lighting effects in particular. She lives and works in Kraków.
Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, untitled (Aneta. Monument to Kraków), 2015, software application, 10′30″
Artistic duo Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries in their typical animated style, using black text set in Monaco font against a white background, created a visual poem referring to Kraków. Initially, the artists invited by the curator Aneta Rostkowska were supposed to build a monument unlike others in Kraków. Finally, the duo employed an alternative form of commemorating the city. As a result, a poem based on associations, word sequences and expressions was composed. Its text concerns Kraków, monuments, ways to commemorate, art and poetry. The artists refer to the Internet, digitisation, the figure of curator and themselves as well. The work’s snapshot form puts it in the Internet art category, yet its deceptive sense points to artists’ reticence to virtual reality. Even though minimalism prevails in its structure, the work generates strong visual and acoustic stimuli. Pulsating words, metaphorical expressions, rhythmicity, the reader’s voice in the background (along with music in the English version) pull the audience into a world which seems to only simulate reality.
Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries – artistic duo from Seoul focusing on Net art and concrete poetry, formed in 1999 by Young-Hae Chang, Korean artist and translator, and Marc Voge, American poet. They assemble animations using text in a distinctive black-and-white typography, coupled with electronic or jazz soundtrack. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries draws its inspiration from the work of French poet Stéphane Mallarmé. Text-based works by the collective question the established conventions that divide literature and visual arts.