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

Nervous Systems: New Machines and Bodies in Polish Art and Film after the Thaw

This essay was published in the catalogue accompanying the Cosmos Calling! exhibition at Zacheta, Warsaw, summer 2014.     In 1973 Krzysztof Zanussi made a movie, ‘Iluminacja’(Illumination), to explore the ways in which science, the state and religion understood life in its most immediate sense, that of the living human being. Relaying the fictional career … Continue reading

Poster maths

This short text appears in the catalogue of the International Poster Biennale which opened in Warsaw in June 2014. I was one of the jurors. The jury of the 24th International Poster Biennale used a website gallery to make their first assessment of the 3814 entries in this year’s competition. Each poster was viewed on-screen as … Continue reading

Pop Effects in Eastern Europe under Communist Rule

In September 1974 Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid exhibited four works at an exhibition of nonconformist art in Moscow, which had been reluctantly permitted by the authorities. Two weeks earlier, the artists had had an artwork – a double self-portrait as Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin – destroyed in the notorious demolition of the ‘Bulldozer … Continue reading

Piłsudski’s Architect

This article appears in the catalogue on the life and work of the Polish architect Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz in Kraków in 2013-14 – details here. I also gave a lecture for the finissage of the show in February 2014 – you can watch it here:   Writing after the liberation of Kraków at the end of … Continue reading

Andrzej Wróblewski and the Politics of Testimony

In September 2013, I gave a lecture on the great painter, Andrzej Wróblewski, at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. You can watch it here.

Sounding the Body Electric issued as CD!

This is just a quick post to say that Sounding the Body Electric has been issued as a double-CD by Bółt Records. A copy can be ordered here. The CD includes some new material which was not in the show (but is discussed in the accompanying book) such as Rudolf Komorous’s minimalist ‘Tomb of Malevitch’, … Continue reading