Deliberations on Economics Cooked Up In the Back Room. 30 Years of Wschodnia Gallery

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego St
opening: 25th April 2014, Friday 6.00 pm.
25th April – 22nd May 2014

Wschodnia Gallery & Guests: Karolina Breguła, Janek Simon, Marcin Polak, Józef Robakowski, Tomasz Szerszeń, Ewa Zarzycka 

The thirty-year-long history of Wschodnia Gallery could probably be told in many different ways. If we consider the fact that it has been one of Poland’s longest-functioning artist-run galleries ever, a number of questions suggest themselves. What major factors contributed to the longevity? What was the strategy behind the phenomenon? What can history teach us today? Let us look at the gallery as an organic structure that – influenced by socio-economic conditions – builds its own identity.

Wschodnia Gallery was launched in 1984 by Jerzy Grzegorski and Adam Klimczak who had taken over a flat at 29 Wschodnia Street from Trupa Arlekina and Pantalona, a collective run by Jarosław Orłowski, Piotr Bikont, and Wojciech Czajkowski. A space where various forms of creativity intersected, including theatre rehearsals, free jazz sessions, and underground political activity, from the mid-10980s the flat at 29 Wschodnia Street became an important spot on the map of independent art. The gallery and its authors were also involved in various important artistic initiatives taking place in Łódź, such as the successive editions of the Construction in Process festival, or the International Artists’ Museum project. Installation and performance art dominated on Wschodnia’s agenda, which clearly indicates strategies aimed at expanded artistic autonomy. After all, artist-run galleries were founded precisely to give artists full control over the conditions in which their art was presented.

The ‘back room’ mentioned in the title of the show also matters. The Wschodnia space has always been a meeting place for artists, critics, and guests. It also serves as a symbol of the milieu that the gallery has engendered. Thus the deliberations conducted in the back room are not just a calculation of profits and losses. Rather, they indicate the point where artistic life – immune to quantitative representations – appears as a complex web of social, economic and aesthetic interrelations.

The exhibition presents an extensive documentation of Wschodnia’s practices and prehistory, complemented by research into the economic terms of its functioning and their impact on the gallery’s institutional formula and aesthetic choices. This is accompanied by works of artists who, paying a tribute to the determination of Wschodnia’s founders, simultaneously comment on its economic realities, social influence, and the places the space occupies in the field of art.

Analysis of economic and institutional model: Mikołaj Iwański.

Curator: Daniel Muzyczuk

Exhibition coordination: Monika Wesołowska


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