- Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
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The 1988 Freiheit? Nein, danke! is one of the most prominent creations of Łódź Kaliska, and a breakthrough work in the career of the artists. After the ties brining together the wider community of the Pitch-In Culture had dissolved, Łódź Kaliska members focused on collaboration among each other, and moved from their previous anarchistic, art-world-contesting stance towards a postmodernist play of quotations, pastiche, and borrowed meanings. In 1987 the group entered into possession of a video camera, which allowed it to record performances for camera, document events and recreate previously unrecorded actions. It was at that time that the now iconic stagings of classic works of art were created, along with the famous Freiheit? Nein, danke!, a jocular reconstitution of Eugene Delacroix's Liberty leading the people.
Nonetheless, this work represents more than just a simple joke on the art history canon. Its perverse title — to add fuel to the fire in German, which at that time in Poland could be interpreted as a purposeful provocation — reflected the years of struggle of Łódź Kaliska against the aporia of liberty in the field of art. Subsequent experience in creating “embarrassing art”, “idiotic art”, “unfocused art” etc., conceptualised in numerous theoretical texts, have led the artists to believe that any violation of artistic conventions, insult to audience, as well as disdain for art institutions, and creation of intentionally trivial, mediocre, and pointless works, will sooner or later be absorbed by the art system. Acts of resistance belong to the domain of art, and it is in accordance with its rules that they are interpreted. Artist’s liberty may seem very ample but it stems from the very status of the artists and their works (similarly, in Łódź Kaliska’s view, there is no freedom from society). Thus, the idea of freedom in art seems to be naïve or false — that is why Łódź Kaliska artists decided to make do without such freedom.
Freiheit? Nein, danke!is a rejection of liberty offered to artists by the society, in a deliberate, bantering, frivolous, and immature act. As a paradox, if anywhere, it was in those brief moments of antics, shenanigans, immature jokes, frolics, and mischief where Łódź Kaliska saw freedom, and again, paradoxically, it was burdened with great solemnity and tension, in spite of the festive and ludic atmosphere. The film serves as a testimony: the artists are fooling around in front of the camera, pushing each other out of the frame, frolicking, making faces, waving around their genitalia.
The film shot by Andrzej Kwietniewski (according to his and Marek Janiak’s concept) accompanied the creation of a photograph by the same title. The photograph was displayed in 1988 during the Polska fotografia intermedialna exhibition, a major event at the Art Exhibitions Bureau (BWA) in Poznań. In front of the large-format photograph, a nude female model was placed, around whom Łódź Kaliska artists continued with their actions, such as colouring elements of the photograph, or adding humorous slogans. The event attracted the attention of the visitors and gained recognition among at least some of the critics, e.g. in Poznań Krzysztof Jurecki expressed a positive opinion on Łódź Kaliska. However, there was a scandal too: during the dinner, the members of the group threw a pork knuckle in the direction of the table where Andrzej Lachowicz and Urszula Czartoryska were seated.
The altered, repainted version of the 1989 photograph, known by the title The Bull Man is currently in the depository of the Museum of Modern Art.
Jarosław Lubiak (ed.), "Szczerość i blaga. Etyka prac Łodzi Kaliskiej w latach 1979-89", Łódź 2009.
Łódź Kaliska (ed. & comp.), "Bóg zazdrości nam pomyłek", Łódź 1999.
Marta Pierzchała (ed.), "Biała aura", Łódź 2010.
An open letter written in January 1965 by Knuts Skujenieks from the prison camp was addressed to his writer colleagues. He asked them not to keep silent about his fate, because ‘culture does not exist without its carriers, and it is important to fight for them, and not to contribute to their moral and physical annihilation.' The letter is a statement of Skujenieks' civic position, a protest against inertia and the fear in Latvian society. It was perhaps too bold for the political climate of Latvia, because it presented evidence that in prison Skujenieks became spiritually more liberated than his colleagues who enjoyed physical freedom, although it has to be admitted that the spirit of resistance of the younger generation of writers in Latvia in the 1960s was stronger than in the 1970s. Official discussions by the Writers' Union in 1965 and 1968 of the poetry he wrote in Mordovia testify to this.
- Rīga Mūkusalas iela, Latvia 1048
- Skujenieks, Knuts
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This letter is an important document for the history of dissidence in Romania, being a proof of the open opposition of a Romanian living in the country to the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. In this case the writer was Victor Frunză, a Romanian writer and journalist, who in 1978 went as tourist to Paris. On this occasion, he contacted a representative of the Reuters Agency, to whom he handed a letter addressed to Nicolae Ceaușescu. He wrote the text of the letter in Romania and memorised its content in order not to carry it and be discovered at customs control. So he rewrote it from memory after he arrived in France. The material in question was published by Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung and broadcast by Radio Free Europe. Also, a copy of the letter was sent by Victor Frunză, by post, to Nicolae Ceaușescu. Essentially, his letter was a criticism of Ceausescu's dictatorship: "I want to manifest deep disagreement with the revival of the cult of personality, today is an improved version, decorated with the national flag." Frunză's conclusion was that "the type of socialist democracy in Romania is nothing more than a parody of discussions through speeches, even if these are not written by those who speak them." The document is in the IICCMER archive and is an original copy of the German letter published in 1978 in Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung. The letter was subsequently published by Victor Frunză in Romanian, at the publishing house he founded after the emigration, in the pages of the book For Human Rights in Romania (1982). The second edition of this volume appeared in 1990, in Bucharest, under the aegis of Victor Frunză Publishing House.
The Dziekanka Workshop was the space of intersection of many domains: visual arts, theatre, music, philosophy. Among music groups that gave concerts in Dziekanka, one might mention punk bands TZN Xenna and Dezerter, intuitive Ossian, and ephemeral projects set by Krzysztof Knittel, Marcin Krzyżanowski, Mieczysław Litwiński, Andrzej Przybielski, and other avant-garde musicians. Familja Radio Warszawa was related with Dziekanka as well. The group was established by Jerzy Caryk, Kuba Pajewski, and Libero Petrič with the participation of many other musicians, artists, and actors. The group combined musical improvisation with electronic experiments and joyful atmosphere while their performances were enriched with elements of theatre and astonishing scenographies. The photography made by Tomasz Sikorski presented the installation-environment created by Familja Radio Warszawa in Dziekanka, December 28-31, 1985.