The beginnings of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art date back to 1949 and the decision to establish the Kraków Branch of the Central Bureau for Art Exhibitions, which, from 1962, already operated as an independent institution: the Bureau for Art Exhibitions (commonly abbreviated as BWA in Polish).

Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, phot. Daniel Zawadzki, from artist's archive, © all rights reserved

 

The Kraków BWA, devoted to the presentation of the latest artistic phenomena, has been housed in the exhibition pavilion designed by Krystyna Tołłoczko-Różyska since 1965 and has become a lively meeting place for the art community and the host of cyclical editions of the International Biennale of Graphics, Kraków Encounters, and the Sculpture of the Year. The history of the gallery, along with the subsequent remodelling of its mission and objectives, reflect the more general and broader processes of systemic, social, and artistic transformations, including the understanding of their public dimension.

This tradition of researching the present and asking questions about its condition has accompanied the gallery over recent decades, defining also today the direction of the artistic programme of the institution. Through various forms of activities – exhibitions, seminars, film programs, workshops, conferences – we treat contemporary art as a tool of work on our imagination, its special igniter launching stories about relations between different countries and cultures, thanks to which it is possible to find common elements in geographically distant regions. Especially – in the global world of migrating signs and symbols – it is contemporary art that provides a space for translating current experiences and articulating the condition of current affairs.

Elaborated by Magdalena Ziółkowska PhD (Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

The Collection of Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art

Paintings. Interactive installations. Objects. Visual spectacles and performances. Video films.

The collection of Bunkier Sztuki Gallery currently consists of almost 400 works by several dozen Polish and foreign, female and male artists – both artists recognized on the international scene, as well as representatives of the younger generation.

The genesis of the gallery’s collection dates back to its functioning as the Bureau for Art Exhibitions (since 1962) and post-exhibition purchase of works by the Department of Culture of the National Council in Kraków, which was undertaken to create sets of works representing the local artistic scene in its subordinate units. Most of the collections accumulated during the time of socialism were sold at auction in 1993, and the development of the collection itself was suspended for several years. With the beginning of the 21st century, the rebuilding of the gallery's collections began, this time with the aim of creating a kind of “memory of the institution” through them. It is intended to document the traces of the current exhibitions in the Bunkier space.

The breakthrough came in 2012, when a new stage in the development of the collection commenced. It was guided by the slogan of the dematerialization of works of art, understood – following Lucy Lippard’s stance – as replacing a material work with its concept and idea. In the Bunker Sztuki collection, this assumption is realized in two ways. On the one hand, dematerialization is understood in relation to the very form of works, especially those of elusive and ephemeral construction – that is, those whose matter vanishes or dissolves over time – or those occurring only in the course of a certain event, when the most important executive element is temporary and unique. The concept of dematerialization also corresponds to a situation in which the material, visual layer is merely an incentive to construe the proper form of the work through imagination. On the other hand, dematerialization suggests the intangible nature of the manifestations of art: ideas and relationships co-created by the artist and recipients, the shift of emphasis from the work understood as a material object to the relationships developed between the subjects.

The result of activities, based on these kinds of assumptions, is the construction and development of extraordinary collections, which consist not only of artistic artefacts, but also of concepts and interactions. It is a collection of works of art and a collection of experiences.

Elaborated by Anna Lebensztejn PhD, (Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

 

 

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Yane Calovski, “Something laid over something else”

“The installation consists of separate elements, shaped more on the basis of context-specific particles of the work than its uniform form. I try to understand that the museum is a social and political construct with a powerful, extremely problematic load of meanings. It constitutes a physical manifestation of power, in the face of which we can only try to multiply its meaning, reciprocity, paradox and pluralism. Therefore, my work aims to respond to the dynamics and cosmogony of multiplicity of knowledge – be it historical, material or functional – but also to the sets of materializations that draw a portrait of space as a process played in an architectural framework.” In this way, Yane Calovski describes the conceptual assumptions of his installation. Its structurally diverse layers refer to the process of destroying the properties that characterize a given matter: erasing, removing, decolouring, and corrosion. In a wider perspective, they address the issue of the evanescence of memory and physical presence, materiality and abstraction.

Bogusław Bachorczyk, “Limahl”

The Glamour of the Hollywood world, fashion, and celebrities constantly fascinates artists. It was irresistible to Andy Warhol, who, already in his teens, had created his own collection of photos autographed by celebrities, and, in later years, passionately perused tabloids and magazines for teenagers. He developed his youthful interests in a series of portraits of superstars, such as Marylin Monroe, Elvis Presley, Liz Taylor, and Mick Jagger. To accomplish this, Warhol used photos taken from glossy magazines, newspapers, and commercials, transforming them into series of repeated iconic images.

Jan Hoeft, untitled (+ 48 XX XXX XXXXX)

Jan Hoeft initiated an artistic intervention taking place on the border of visibility: in the middle of a vast lawn in Kraków’s Błonia Park, he placed a ten-metre-long sculpture, made of stainless steel, deliberately resembling a scaled-up barrier (easily restored if necessary). Over its frame, a white and red scarf was slung, reminiscent of the colours sported by the fans of the nearby football clubs, Cracovia and Wisła. In place of the club’s name, a phone number was embroidered, the use of which resulted in drawing the caller into a remote performance, following the scenario prepared by the artist.

Zorka Wollny, untitled

Zorka Wollny’s work situates itself between theatre, dance, music and visual arts. Her achievements include video films – distinguishing themselves with a pictorial vision – concerts and choreographic performances involving numerous actors (often realized together with Anna Szwajgier). In projects that refer to the form of an audiovisual show, the artist plays the role of director and producer, inviting musicians, actors, and dancers to cooperate, working with members of local communities, amateur clubs, and groups that share common interests. The essential element of her projects is space: works are created as a result of observing the existing conditions created by the architecture of the place, as well as penetrating its private, public, and institutional aspects.

Anna Zaradny, “BruitBruit”

Anna Zaradny’s activities – as a composer, instrumentalist, multimedia artist – are strongly intertwined with the issue of polysensory stimulation. This aspect is especially characterized by two of them: Najsłodszy dźwięk krążącego firmamentu [The sweetest sound of a revolving firmament] (2011), a sound performative installation inspired by the figure of the medieval composer and mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, and Język Wenus [The Language of Venus] (2012), a sound and visual installation, referring to the author of piano compositions and pianist, Tekla Bądarzewska. In BruitBruit, the combination of musical and visual themes is also significant. This time, the inspiration for the artist was Krystyna Tołłoczko-Różyska (1909–2001), the architect and author of the Municipal Exhibition Pavilion in Kraków – the current Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Andris Eglītis, “It Takes Imagination to Build Reality”

The site-specific installation by Andris Eglītis, who combines oil paintings on canvas and spatial objects, straddles the border of materiality and immateriality, documentation and imagination. The artist analyses the abstract ideas of post-war modernism (utopian design, simplicity of forms, and fascination with technology) and confronts them with the organic substantiality of reality. The structure of the work is on the one hand the historical and social context of the Gallery, its functioning in communist times, as well as the fate of its architecture and collections preceding 1989.

Łukasz Surowiec, “Zbigniew, 60” from the cycle “Carts”

Łukasz Surowiec’s activities focus on the area of important social problems such as exclusion, homelessness, and poverty. The artist explores the relationships within marginalized groups and the perception of their representatives by other members of society. He creates prototypes of radical social actions, thanks to which he interferes with the reality of people functioning outside the capitalist system.

Łukasz Surowiec, “Piotr, 46” from the cycle “Carts”

Łukasz Surowiec’s activities focus on the area of important social problems such as exclusion, homelessness, and poverty. The artist explores the relationships within marginalized groups and the perception of their representatives by other members of society. He creates prototypes of radical social actions, thanks to which he interferes with the reality of people functioning outside the capitalist system.

Łukasz Surowiec, “Erwin, 48” from the cycle “Carts”

Łukasz Surowiec’s activities focus on the area of important social problems such as exclusion, homelessness, and poverty. The artist explores the relationships within marginalized groups and the perception of their representatives by other members of society. He creates prototypes of radical social actions, thanks to which he interferes with the reality of people functioning outside the capitalist system.

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, bez tytułu (Aneta. Monument for Kraków)

Aneta. Monument to Kraków – this is an example of a work related to the current of internet art and concrete poetry. The Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries duo, who are responsible for its creation, consistently uses one visual form in its creative work. It consists of words animated and displayed on a white background, in a characteristic font. In subsequent works, only the rhythm in which words appear on the screen changes, and the content of words that become a visual poem. The texts are read by a lector or are synchronized with accompanying jazz music. In the case of work carried out for the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery, we deal with a record without a musical background. We only hear the voice that reads the words – alternately in Polish (by the poet and slammer Jan Kowalewicz) and English (by a member of Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries – Marc Voge).

Wojciech Gilewicz, “Revitalisations”

The project, Revitalisations, was implemented Wojciech Gilewicz in Sanok in 2007. The long-term marginalization of the city and its exclusion from comprehensive modernization projects prompted the artist to undertake his own, non-standard intervention, using the illusionistic potential of painting. The intention of the action was to repair the visual deficiencies of the urban fabric, to supplement its defects with the help of images, and by doing so, lead at least its temporary and provisional revitalization. During the artist’s several-week work in the public space of Sanok, pictorial mock-ups of reality covered the progressing degradation and neglect of buildings and streets. They replaced missing tiles of wall claddings, hid glaring dirt and lichen on elevations, filled plaster gaps, fitting perfectly into their shape.

Łukasz Surowiec, “Eugeniusz, 63” from the cycle “Carts”

Łukasz Surowiec’s activities focus on the area of important social problems such as exclusion, homelessness, and poverty. The artist explores the relationships within marginalized groups and the perception of their representatives by other members of society. He creates prototypes of radical social actions, thanks to which he interferes with the reality of people functioning outside the capitalist system.

Łukasz Surowiec, “Zofia, 50” from the cycle “Carts”

Łukasz Surowiec’s activities focus on the area of important social problems such as exclusion, homelessness, and poverty. The artist explores the relationships within marginalized groups and the perception of their representatives by other members of society. He creates prototypes of radical social actions, thanks to which he interferes with the reality of people functioning outside the capitalist system.

Bartek Buczek, “Too expensive, too weak, too difficult. Several selected recipes for an art work possible in the hypothetical fantasy world”

Bartek Buczek, apart from being a painter of works of art, is also a bouquiniste, an owner of an antique book shop, and he likes to emphasize this. In his painting, as well as when going beyond the boundaries of paintings, one can find not only literary inspiration, but also a melancholy atmosphere accompanying a focused reader, a thoughtful detective, who follows the development of plot threads and narratives. While working on his art in his own way by means of his creative personality, he remains patient. And this is how he plots stories that are almost real, whether on stretcher frames or in the pages of a book.

Andreas Kaufmann, from the series “40 Gestures”

The artistic creativity of Andreas M. Kaufmann has evolved around such concepts as space, time, and the public sphere. It is manifested through a variety of means (both analogue and digital) and forms; the artist is particularly fond of using projection. The increasingly strong mutual penetration of the artistic sphere and technology has led the artist to undertaking reflections on the civilizational context in which current art functions.

Andreas Kaufmann, from the series “40 Gestures”

The artistic creativity of Andreas M. Kaufmann has evolved around such concepts as space, time, and the public sphere. It is manifested through a variety of means (both analogue and digital) and forms; the artist is particularly fond of using projection. The increasingly strong mutual penetration of the artistic sphere and technology has led the artist to undertaking reflections on the civilizational context in which current art functions.

Anna Senkara, “Nobleman”

A film Szlachcic [Nobleman], is a record of the artist’s conversation with Roman Szlachcic, son of Franciszek, a high dignitary of the Communist Poland (PRL) government. This nostalgic tale exposes personal attempts to interpret history, points to the political motives of a bygone era, and touches upon the topic of delicate family relationships. In the eyes of his son, Franciszek Szlachcic was an outstanding personality. He started his career as a worker, went through almost all levels of partisan activity, became a high-ranking public security officer, Minister of Interior in 1971, Edward Gierek’s deputy and, for two years, until 1976, deputy prime minister. After this period, Franciszek Szlachcic’s good fortune came to an end. He was removed from politics overnight and lost all his previous influence and privileges. The only symbol of his lost prestige was a larch wood villa built a few years earlier in Magdalenka near Warsaw, where his son still lives today.

Barbara Bańda, “Daily news”

The cycle Everyday news is a visual record of press cuttings, processed by the artist. Basia Bańda was inspired by the headlines from local, internet news portals of Lesser Poland (Kraków.wyborcza.pl, gazeta.pl), which became titles of thirty collages. Tragic events prevail amongst them: unfortunate accidents (The passenger lost her leg under the wheels of the train), acts of violence (A man from the coast beat a woman in Nowy Targ), disappearances (She disappeared around Wielka Krokwia), murders (Murder on Budryk Street. The police are looking for the stabber), incidents of devastation (He damaged 36 cars. Prosecutor: prison and damage repair). People’s dramas intertwine with equally catastrophic information from the world of nature (Dead fish in the Biała river – investigation discontinued). Most misfortunes chosen by the artist and described in the press concern individuals, and their impact on the life of the local community is negligible.

Cecylia Malik, Piotr Pawlus, “6 rivers”

The movie 6 rivers, made in 2012, by the artist and camera operator Piotr Pawlus, is a record of an unusual journey along a waterway. It recalled the names of the six rivers of Kraków and showed their endangered beauty. The winding tributaries of the Wisła—Rudawa, Wilga, Dłubnia, Prądnik — which meander through narrow channels across post-industrial areas, burned stubble and riparian forests, echoing with bird song, pose quite a challenge for potential travellers. It is only during the last leg of their journey, that Malik and Pawlus navigate through settlements, housing estates and allotment gardens, more readily recognizable to Kraków’s inhabitants. In a boat of her own making, the artist negotiates mist-shrouded tunnels with branches hanging low above the water and echoing passageways; she goes through clusters of rubbish and the trunks of fallen trees; she struggles with fast stream currents, to finally sail out into the lazily sprawling waters of the Wisła. Using poetic imagery ranging between a documentary, a musical clip, and video work, she creates an obscure and atmospheric image of Kraków, in which the city’s outskirts get the upper hand over its centre.

Strupek Group, “Rocket”

The starting point for the performance Rocket, was the text of a futuristic poem by Anatol Stern, Europe, published in 1929. It was processed by the members of the Strupek Group, using a modern internet tool — Google translate — to obtain an absurd, mechanized form of language. However, what survived is the essence of the original poem and its embedded story of the brutality of the 20th century history, the traps of totalitarianism, and the triumph of violence, whose horror was highlighted by ghostly sounds extracted from a theremin (an electroacoustic musical instrument constructed in the 1920s by a Soviet physicist Lev Termen). The oppressiveness of the situation increased the audience’s involvement in the space of the show itself and confronted them with characters shouting out consecutive lines: Priest, Altar Boy, Mother, Rocket, and the Sacrificial Lamb, conducting the action. The play, which was recreated three times, was an adequate conclusion of the public activity of the Strupek Group — from then on, the fates of its members were to go down their individual paths.