8th April – 22nd April 2011

The exhibition at Muzeum Sztuki will present so exhaustingly for the first time the phenomenon of one of the most interesting initiatives of artistic underground in Łódź of the 1980s. Carpet Cleaning is a name of a gallery run in Łódź for several months in 1982 by Adam Paczkowski and Radosław Sowiak: collectors and artists. “Carpet men”, as they were called, registered a service company dealing with carpet cleaning as a cover for artistic activities.
Exhibition space was located in a small apartment at 255 Piotrkowska Street. It housed the exhibitions of such well-known artists as Henryk Stażewski, Zbigniew Warpechowski, Jan Dobkowski, Ryszard Waśko, Andrzej and Ewa Partum, Józef Robakowski.
The oifficially operating service served Paczkowski and Sowiak as an excuse to organise meetings for a larger group of people and at the same time to organise “mass events” strictly forbidden under the Martial Law. Unofficially they dealt in the same area as art galleries: they bought and sold paintings and organised exhibitions.
After the gallery officially finished its operations and showed almost thirty exhibitions, Paczkowski and Sowiak continued their work as collectors, artists and creators of events combining art with social activities. In 1984 they organised the first private tennis tournament in Konopnica, Poland, attended by leading Polish sportsmen, as an artistic action.
They also created a publishing house Zakaz Zawracania (No U-Turn), which published, among others, seven issues of „Mersapon” magazine summing up the activities of the gallery and commenting on the current activities of the „carpet men”.

The end of Paczkowski and Sowiak’s artistic actions was clear to foresee: in 1986 Security Service intervened and announced clearly that they would not have the artists’ running their activities in the area of art. In 1986 the archives of the Carpet Cleaning Gallery was taken out of the country and deposited in Bibliotece Sztuki w Kopenhadze. It thus became the beginning of the future Instytut Sztuki im. „Społecznego Protestu” (the “Social Protest” Art Institute) an institution aimed at „presenting the mutual permeation of new social structures and artistic attitudes”.
In 1987, in order to propagate the idea of Carpet Cleaning, the artists decided to sue one another; trials went on for several years. In 2006 the archives of Carpet Cleaning was donated to the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź.
The exhibition will present both unique archive material and the works from Radosław Sowiak’s collection.

The exhibition is curated by Aleksandra Jach, Maciej Cholewiński

Carpet Cleaning exhibition is a part of Art and Documentation Festival.

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