The Peasant in the City

This piece was written for a Zacheta show, Polska – kraj folkloru? You can download the catalogue in English here. It includes excellent essays by Gabriela Świtek, Błażej Brzostek and the curator, Joanna Kordjak. A Socialist capital – a city for every citizen … the worker, the peasant and the working intelligentsia’ – political slogan Poland, … Continue reading

Notes from the Underground

In September, Daniel Muzyczuk and I curated a show entitled ‘Notes from the Underground’ for the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz which explores the intersection of art and music in Eastern Europe under communist rule. Rock, punk and new wave were not only embraced by young musicians in the 1970s and 1980s, they shaped the visual … Continue reading

Modernism Redux

In October 1993, Charles Jencks, the leading advocate of architectural postmodernism, was guest of honour at an international conference and exhibition on ‘Post-Modernism and National Cultures’ which was held at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. This event coincided with the Yeltsin coup, which culminated on October 3-4 with the fighting at the Ostankino TV Center, … Continue reading

The Future is Between Your Legs: Sex, Art and Censorship in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

This is a draft version of a text which will be published by Nottingham Contemporary in 2016.     In spring 1970 a small audience gathered in a church in the Old Town in Zagreb to watch a performance by the poet, actor and artist, Katalin Ladik. Dressed in nothing but a loose fur, Ladik … Continue reading

Hasior’s Dreck

  This essay is a transcript of a talk given in Zakopane in late 2014. It will appear in a book edited by Kola Sliwińska.   Junk and trash seemed to rise to the surface of Polish culture in the mid 1950s. Of course, in the aftermath of the catastrophe of the Second World War, … Continue reading

Interview with Herito magazine

In May Herito published an interview with me on socmodernist architecture in Eastern Europe – you can read it here.

Staging for the End of History: Avant-garde Visions at the Beginning and the End of Communism in Eastern Europe

In 1967 Stanislav Kolibal, the Czech artist, was commissioned to design the August-September cover of Výtvarné Uměni (Fine Arts) (fig 1). This was to be a special issue of the periodical, commemorating – like many other magazines and newspapers published in the Eastern Bloc that autumn – the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. He … Continue reading

A Little Music: Sound Works by Wojciech Bruszewski

This essay will appear in 2015 in a book reviewing the work of artist Wojciech Bruszewski. In 1982 Wojciech Bruszewski compiled a number of experiments with sound that he had been making since 1976 in a short VHS compilation called ‘A Little Music’ (‘Trochę Muzyki’). Short films like ‘TV Music’ (1979), ‘Sternmusic’ (1979) and ‘Behaviour … Continue reading

Empty Plots – Art and Environment in Latvia in the 1970s

This short essay was written for a publication accompanying the Visionary Structures exhibition at BOZAR, Brussels, opening in January 2015. In the early 1970s Environment occupied a central place in the lexicon of art and design on both sides of the Cold War divide. It was not, of course, a newly-coined term: more than a … Continue reading

Echo Translation

In his book La voix au cinéma (The Voice in Cinema), Michel Chion coined the word ‘acousmêtre’ to describe a character that can be heard but not seen on screen. Rather than nail down his term with a comprehensive definition, Chion introduces his readers to various kinds of disembodied voices in the cinema. They include … Continue reading