Paweł Kwiek

Paweł Kwiek was the key figure in Polish experimental film and video art during the 1970s. At that time, he was actively collaborating with two important neo-avant-garde formations: Workshop of the Film Form in Łódź and a group of artists connected to the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. The Warsaw group consisted primarily of the circle of Prof. Oskar Hansen, including Zofia Kulik, Przemysław Kwiek (Paweł’s brother, who was part of KwieKulik), and also Anastazy Wiśniewski, and Zygmunt Piotrowski. Together, they formed the “Soc Art” movement (also known as “Socialist Conceptualism” or “New Red Art”), which tried to introduce new avant-garde political art and, in doing so, subvert the communist regime from the inside (since they all perceived themselves to be leftist artists). Experimentation with regard to Hansen’s theory and practice of Open Form likewise had an important impact on Paweł Kwiek’s approach to the filmic medium, to spatial experiments, and to participatory strategies that he developed later on. In 1971, he came together with Zofia Kulik, Przemysław Kwiek and Jan Stanisław Wojciechowski to co-author the filmic project Open Form (Forma Otwarta), consisting of sequential study cases including the spectacular Game on Actress Face. These experiments determined the shape of Kwiek’s first “political” films, involving his deep interest in mass-media, in the phenomenology of the medium as such, and in the manipulative power of film as propaganda tool: Face (Twarz, 1971); Me and the Phone (Ja i Telefon, 1972); 1,2,3 Cameraman Exercise (1,2,3… Ćwiczenia operatorskie, 1972); and the “assembling film” Niechcice from 1973. Needless to say, Kwiek was a co-founder and member of the famous Workshop of the Film Form (a formation officially active between 1970 and 1977), together with Józef Robakowski, Ryszard Waśko, Wojciech Bruszewski and Kazimierz Bendkowski, fellow students and alumni of Łódź Film School. Later on, between 1978 and 1981, he also worked as a lecturer at this institution. All of his filmic experiments from that period correspond with the practices of the Workshop, in which he was a leading figure. In the non-camera and non-screened film Commentary (Komentarz, 1972), he developed the interestn he had nurtured in Me and the Phone to radically conceptualize (textualize) the filmic image, replacing the screening with a performance, “reading” the film’s content in front of the audience. This film was a “radical rejection of the cinematic communication mediated by film” that opposed clichés of the viewer’s narrative and mental expectations, according to Łukasz Ronduda. Other provocations appeared in Mirror (Lustro, 1971), consisting only of a mirror and the projector’s light “attacking the audience”—and in 1973, just before his real engagement with the medium of TV - Numbers (Numerki), which presented only the opening countdown (film leader) of the film reel in a way that resembled strategies from structural film.

The period of 1974–1976 saw Kwiek made his most important TV videos: Video A, Video C and Video P. The first video of the A–Z series was Video A [Sytuacja Studia / Studio Situation], which was both the first Polish work to artistically employ the potential of the television medium and a pioneering video work in general. During a TV show devoted to the Workshop of the Film Form, Kwiek presented a performance, standing in front of the cameras and issuing his directives to the cameramen. By directing a live “television broadcast about himself,” he demonstrated that “every attempt to report objectively through a medium is doomed to fail, as we always deal with the interpretation both by the viewer and the operator, who decides what to show and what to hide,” according to Marika Kuźmicz. In his text Video (a catalogue introduction for Galeria Remont, 1976, Warsaw) Kwiek stated: “TV technology allows me to construct sets that transmit the image of reality in a way that is acceptable for human beings and conforms to its attributes. Therefore, I construct sets where the observed reality is the human being—for whom, in turn, the image of reality is his own constructed image. It is possible to build sets of varied degrees of dependency on the mode of transmission to the observed human, and therefore fromthemselves to the perceived image of reality. On the other hand, the structure of such a set determines what a human being who forms part of it can point out, discern, determine. As it is, we are dealing with a matter of intentional, physically existing realities and investigations into the ways in which humans operate within them. The investigation is developed through specific operations carried out thereupon and therein.”




1951, Mulawicze / PL


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