The photographs witness the process of introducing avant-garde theatre into Polish village landscape and the creation of paralel artistic sphere during the final stage of state socialism.
- Gardzienice, Poland 21-050
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The film was shot by Józef Robakowski in collaboration with Witold Krymarys, two neo-avant-garde multimedia artists from Łódź, specialised in photography, film, and video art. The film shows the happening organised by Łódź Kaliska, i.e. Marek Janiak, Adam Rzepecki, Andrzej “Makary” Wielogórski, and Andrzej Kwietniewski, with whom Robakowski did not share the views on the meaning of the Pitch-In Culture (the founder of the Exchange Gallery used this term to cover the entire independent art movement of the 1980s) or on the aesthetics, in which he often referred to the legacy of the great avant-garde, rejected in turn by the members of Łódź Kaliska. This provoked a conflict regarding the authorship of the film: was it the camera operators (Robakowski and Krymarys) or the Łódź Kaliska members, who performed in front of the cameras. In 1988 Robakowski re-edited the original recording, slowed it down, changed the colours, added Witold Lutosławski’s music, and titled the picture Party mit Lutosławski. It is also worth noting that the film featured many other persons, apart from those already mentioned, i.a. Jacek Jóźwiak, Paweł Kwiek, Zofia Łuczko, Dariusz Kędziora, Jarosław Bogusiak, Andrzej Janaszewski, Zygmunt Rytka, Zbigniew Bińczyk, and Andrzej Wielogórski, the cousin of “Makary”.
Paradoxically, the conflict illustrates the creative contribution of the filmmakers who participated in the events not only by recording them but also actively created them. “The expressive, if not dramatic, scenes clearly surpassed the original intentions of the filmmakers, whose initial idea was to edit a video clip in natural surroundings (i.e. on a city boulevard and inside The Attic, an extremely important spot for the artistic milieu) for a song, which was popular in Łódź at that time” wrote a critic, Jolanta Ciesielska. The artists initiated actions in the City of Łódź, in the streets and in the “Balaton” bar, and proceeded with a party at The Attic. By means of pitch-in they gathered funds for vodka and potatoes, as a snack, which well reflected a slightly poor and slightly decadent atmosphere of The Attic. In the finale of the film, the relative of “Makary” is heard saying his famous remark that “art requires sacrifice”. In that he refers to having his late father’s accordion, damaged by the artists. In the context of a farewell party for The Attic, the phrase seems to capture well the spirit of artistic underground with its “economic world turned upside down” (as Pierre Bourdieu put it in the Rules of Art)
The film is 17 minutes long, and it was first presented in 1987 during a video film festival in students’ gallery Dziekanka in Warsaw.
Marek Janiak (ed.), "Kultura Zrzuty", Warszawa 1989.
Łódź Kaliska (ed. & elab.), "Bóg zazdrości nam pomyłek", Łódź 1999.
Jolanta Ciesielska, "Videoperformance", in: Piotr Krajewski i Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska, "Ukryta dekada. Polska sztuka wideo 1985-1995", Wrocław 2010.
The controversy around the performance was linked to the play’s subtle critique of the GDR shown as detached from reality, dominated by a rigid bureaucracy, with citizens alienated by socialism, and the overemphasising of ‘development’ and ‘modernisation’. The play was greeted with praise by audiences, although the East and West German media reacted differently. West German press generally responded that the themes touched on in the play should have discussed years earlier, whereas the GDR press thought that the delay from real events was appropriate, such as discussion around the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The subtle staging of the political event, such as the construction of the Berlin Wall, created space for debate within the play’s audience. The play was staged twenty-nine times within a year of the opening night, and further performances were organised throughout the GDR. However, the fall of the GDR also meant the end for the play, which was staged only another two times, and only alongside other plays of Heiner Müller.
Currently, documents related to the play are preserved as part of the Theatre Performance Documentation collection of the Archives of Performing Arts of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.
Tango art magazine, published in the years 1983-1986 is the most important material product and a testimony to the existence of the Pitch-In Culture. There were 9 issues of Tango, although numbers of the issues do not reflect that, as they were given at random, in accordance with programmed principles of inconsistency and humbug followed especially by the Łódź Kaliska members who constituted the core of the Pitch-In Culture. Each issue was printed in A4 format in ca. 200 copies. Adam Rzepecki designed the iconoclastic cover the famous first edition of Tango, which featured a reproduction of the painting of Our Lady from Jasna Góra monastery with moustache painted over it.
Tango was a collective work: artists related to the Pitch-In Culture would send their works, which were then published on the pages of the magazine. Typesetting and print were also a collective effort of the creators who would meet in one place (not necessarily Łódź, although geographically it was the centre of the Pitch-In Culture, but also e.g. in Nowa Huta). Each issue had its own editor-in-chief and contained works by several artists. The collective model of preparing the publication was important for strengthening the ties between the artists, and was a part of being together, in which creative work mixed with discussions, jokes, and fun.
The Pitch-In Culture was founded upon rejection of both official and opposition art circles. Artistic establishment and hierarchies, as well as political commitment were met with dissent against the entire social and cultural systems, not just the institution of political power. Owing to that fact, the Pitch-In Culture remained on the margin, only to remind of itself through scandals, provocations, and profanity. Therefore such important is the role of Tango, a tangible artefact corroborating private and personal ties between the participants of the Pitch-In Culture and the very existence of this ephemeral community. Along with such journals as Oj Dobrze Już by Gruppa, Luxus by Luxus Group, publications by Totart, the Orange Alternative, or Leeeżeć Community, Tango was one of the most brilliant examples of underground art magazines of the 1980s.
Jarosław Lubiak (ed.), "Szczerość i blaga. Etyka prac Łodzi Kaliskiej w latach 1979-89", Łódź 2009.
Marek Janiak (ed.), "Kultura Zrzuty", Warszawa 1989.