ms1, 36 Więckowskiego St, entrance from 43 Gdańska St, reading room
You are watching a collection of books written, made and published by Adam Paczkowski and Radosław Sowiak. In 1981, they founded the gallery in Łódź, which they called Czyszczenie Dywanów (Carpet Cleaning), the story behind which is as peculiar as its very name.
Before that, Paczkowski and Sowiak had been occupied by ... having a pleasant time and doing the kind of business that would allow them to have a good time in Wólczańska Street, where they had grown up, but also in the local restaurants and dancing clubs, or at the seaside or in Warsaw. In the Poland of the 1970s and 1980s, it was not well received, and certainly not by the Citizens' Militia.
One day, however, they became interested in art. They started meeting artists and visiting their studios. They were absorbing and soaking in this new world for them, but they did not give up trading. For beginner art dealers, they were doing great. Eventually, they decided to set up their own gallery. Private, independent, organising exhibitions, buying and selling works.
There was only one problem: Poland was under martial law at that time, during which virtually everything, and especially gatherings of people, could have been considered an anti-system or anti-state activity. Even such an event as the opening of an exhibition in your own gallery.
Thus, in the premises located at 255 Piotrkowska Street, in the apartment no. 22, a carpet cleaning services shop was opened. This was, of course, to justify - at least officially – the people’s flow and their frequent visits there.
The Carpet Cleaning season was inaugurated in March 1982 and opened by Zbigniew Warpechowski. Later, the works of the following artists, to name just a few, were presented there: Andrzej Partum, Józef Robakowski, Henryk Stażewski, Jacek Kryszkowski, Andrzej Różycki, Ewa Partum, Jan Dobkowski, Ryszard Waśko or Jacek Jóźwiak.
After a year, however, when the atmosphere around the gallery began to get angsty - also due to some artistic differences and clashes - The Carpet Cleaning gallery was closed. Its closing day ceremony took place on March 16, 1983 and the whole event was entitled Adam P's Birthday. There, a lavish reception party was combined with the presentation of a specially created collection of works which had been composed of works made by all the artists previously exhibiting in the gallery.
Although Paczkowski and Sowiak closed the gallery, they remained in the art world. They became artists themselves (without giving up trade, of course). In 1983, Sowiak started to create black books made of wood, pasted with photos, which were additionally complemented by short texts “written” with the use of stamps. Soon, Paczkowski turned to books as well and began to write them. They stylistically referred to the collection that was being created of wood. He made a series of the so called Works on Tiles, which looked like single pages of one of the books.
They also founded the publishing house Zakaz Zawracania (No U-turn), where they published - illegally of course - a newsletter called Mersapon (which was the name of the carpet cleaner), containing reports on their artistic and social activities. One of such activities which was organized by them was a private tennis tournament in Konopnica with the participation of the best Polish tennis players.
In 1986, after a series of “educational talks” with some officers of the Secret Security Service, Paczkowski and Sowiak were forced to stop their activities altogether, however, they prepared a big farewell. It was a performance, a staged case, during which they performed a fictional and scandalous lawsuit against each other for the alleged seizure of property, i.e. works of art. It lasted for several years throughout which it remained unresolved.
Radosław Sowiak later took up painting. He is currently living in Łódź.Adam Paczkowski is creating new publications, messages and art books. Since 2004 he has been living and working in Sweden.