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

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

Every Single Crash – Filip Berendt’s art

This text was written to accompany Filip Berendt’s show at L’étrangère, London in 2015. Working in Taiwan a few years ago, Filip Berendt was struck by the profusion and variety of ordinary materials on sale there. Taipei’s shops offer paper, metal foil, plastics and other other everyday materials in dizzying, even excessive, variety. He was … 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

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

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.

Signora Ladik

This piece was published in the epiphanies section of the June 2013 issue of the The Wire ♦ The centre of Pest – Budapest’s Rive Droite – is dense and busy, packed with elegant buildings dating from the city’s heyday before the First World War. They feature in the elegant images of the Hungarian capital … Continue reading

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

Singing with Beck

This review was published in Eye magazine in summer 2013 ♦  Just over a hundred years ago the music business experienced its first major crisis. The success of new gramophone records played on a hand-cranked turntable with an overbearing horn, sounded the beginning of the end of popular sheet music, the business’s most profitable product at … Continue reading