February 12-15, 108th College Art Association Annual Conference, Chicago.
Paper delivered at the panel “Freezes and Thaws in the Socialist Bloc” sponsored by SHERA (Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture) and conveyed by Yelena Kalinsky, Michigan State University and Adrian Barr, Winona State. Saturday, Feb 15 at 4pm.
The early 2000s in Poland saw resurgence in interest in the histories of the 1960s/1970s neo-avantgardes, both on the part of art historians, and contemporary artists. While academic publications and research-based exhibitions constructed canonizing narratives about conceptualism and related practices, the young generation of artists targeted individual art works to create remakes, pastiches, and commentaries. At the center of many of those efforts was Galeria Foksal, the critical institution of the Polish 1960s and 1970s, responsible for the production of both a certain type of visual language associated with the neo-avantgarde and the theoretical reflection that remained influential through the following decades. This paper will focus on remakes of two canonical artworks by Foksal-affiliated practitioners that initiated and defined Polish conceptualism: Zbigniew Gostomski’s “It begins in Wrocław,” revisited by Rafał Jakubowicz (b. 1974) in 2008, and Edward Krasiński’s blue scotch tape, re-made by Karol Radziszewski (b. 1980), in 2007. In the proposed analysis, I will show how the contemporary remakes highlight the contextual aspects of the original works and critically address identity-related issues absent in the originals. I will argue that that the new, critical, reading of the neo-avantgarde that they offer reveals intentional omissions at the core of its paradigm, grounded in the general erasure of difference particular to Communism.