Art, Emotion and Activism in the Post-Socialist Cityscape in Eastern Europe

In 2014 developers in Kraków in southern Poland proposed the construction of ‘Nowa Cracovia’, an office and retail development on the site occupied by the ‘old’ Cracovia, a hotel owned by the state tourist company which opened its doors in the late 1960s (designed in 1959 by Witold Cęckiewicz for Miastoprojekt, Kraków, with structural engineers … Continue reading

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

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

The Choreography of the Console: The Design of Electronic Environments and their Operators in the Cold War

This talk was given in Zurich at ETH in autumn 2014. In the late 1950 and 1960s a new kind of non-human actor appeared on the movie screens and televisions around the world. The console – an electronic panel or unit operated with dials, switches or buttons – appeared in numerous Cold War thrillers and … Continue reading

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

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. Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957-1984 – II

A new version of the 2012 show opened at Calvert 22 in London in late June 2013. it ran until Aug 26th. Here is a gallery of installation shots – courtesy of Calvert 22. There is also some footage of me talking about the show on the Calvert site here. You can download a pdf … Continue reading

Walking With Hansen

In lieu of the full text, here is a link to a talk on Oskar Hansen’s ideas about the mobile body. It was presented at a conference at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw in June 2013.