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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Piotr Lutyński, “Bird column”

The work The Bird Column was created in 2003 in the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery and functioned as an exhibition in the process. The titular Bird Column, called by Lutyński “an animated sculpture” and “a large nest full of birds”, took the form of an installation: it was a developed construction, inside which there were paintings and objects made of wood and the birds, whose singing was heard throughout the Gallery from microphones placed nearby. In the next room, there was a goat with its kids. The whole exhibition was accompanied by texts referring to the teachings of St Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals, ornithologists, and bird breeders.

Honza Zamojski, “Modernism”

Honza Zamojski’s video, entitled Modernism, is an attempt to critically look at the phenomenon of modernism in architecture. The artist reduces the ideas underlying this trend to a simple pattern of repetitive action seen on the screen. As a result of a looped gesture of arranging round cookies, placing one on another, a kind of a tower is created, which, in a distant association, evokes materialized assumptions of modernist architecture, manifested in simple geometrical forms, abandoning decorativeness and ornamentation, reducing the body of the building to an abstract structure.

Marcin Maciejowski, “The Doctor Said…”

The works by Marcin Maciejowski reveal interest in the present and everyday life of a human being. His pictorial commentaries on reality are the result of insightful and multifaceted observation of Polish society. The artist analyses customs, explores stereotypes and cultural patterns. He deals with media topics, presenting figures known from the first pages of newspapers (politicians, journalists, celebrities), topics of sensational events, as well as social and economic problems. He devotes much attention to the social reception of art and the role of the artist.

Karolina Kowalska, “A window onto the winter”

The motifs of urban everyday life as an illusory sign of economic prosperity prevail in Karolina Kowalska’s works. Streets, blocks of flats, and office buildings appear next to intimate apartment interiors and impersonal infrastructure. The architectural and media indicators of capitalism determine the area of human activity, rendering the world of nature a luxurious addition. The artist manipulates their images, pushing them into everyday realities and, with a hint of irony, transforming them. Thus, her photographs, films, installations, and objects reveal in a nuanced, jocular manner, the influence of urban cityscape on individuals and relationships and propose slightly improved variants. The projects realized by the artists combine music, visual art, and text at times.

Maurycy Gomulicki, “Beast”

In traditional culture, serpents represent a threatening and powerful symbol of the primal cosmic forces; they are representatives of chaos and death. They were often also the object of worship: for ancient Egyptians they symbolized the power of wielding life and death, decorating the crown of the pharaohs; the Greeks considered them to be the embodiment of the chthonic gods, and because of their annual skin moulting, they added them as an attribute to Asclepios, as a symbol of life, health, and rebirth. The Romans bred snakes in their homes, seeing them as the guardians of their home and family; The Aztecs made a feathered serpent — Quetzalcoatl — a co-creator of the world, the god of wind and earth. The primal cult of serpents also flourished in regions closer to us: for example, in the Krakowiak tribe from the right bank of the Wisła. The Judeo-Christian culture judged serpents rather negatively: in the story of Adam and Eve, they became cursed creatures; the Old Testament God sent them as a punishment to the Israelites, and then, through Moses, sent a serpent to their rescue, but one made of copper.

Jadwiga Sawicka, “Batman”

In Jadwiga Sawicka’s works, individual objects and phenomena appear belonging to everyday life, as well as words and phrases taken out of context, from newspapers, commercials or electronic media. Items of clothing, such as a shirt, trousers, skirt, gloves, and a jacket assume the painted form of a simplified, monochromatic image of clothing, having no particular features; they become more concrete while being photographed. In a series of photos from 1997, presenting casual clothing separately, they are captured on a uniform background of plastic foil and artificial leather: a leather coat, a colourful dress, a suit, trousers, a bathing suit.

Janek Simon, “Ryugyong Hotel”

Janek Simon’s interests include theories and models as well as scientific disciplines, such as geography and economics, which are subject to evolution along with civilizational changes. His works have an experimental and anarchic character, reflecting the clash of scientific theories with the reality of everyday life. His works are prototypes, models, and complicated electronic systems, created according to the principle Do It Yourself by the artists himself. He incessantly seeks extra-systemic solutions, which allow him to break away from contemporary art of a capitalist character.

Wael Shawky, “Digital Church”

In the film Digital Church Wael Shawky tries to connect two worlds, the Christian and the Islamic, by staging the surah devoted to the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, recorded in the holy book of Muslims, in the space of the Catholic church. The artist uses the sung recitation of verses, which is traditional for the Islamic world, using the Arabic language, until recently recognized as the only language in which the text of the Quran has a prayer value. Although the recited surah refers to events well-known to Christian believers, the form of its conveyance is strange and confusing to them, and may even – due to the choice of the place of recitation – be perceived as blasphemous.

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.

Małgorzata Markiewicz, “Counting-Out Games”

Her work, Wyliczanki (Counting-out Games), consists of three objects – costumes. Each consists of a skirt and a braid. Wide, embroidered skirts, with a circular pattern, inspired by Polish folklore, refer to the character and colours of festive folk costumes. They are made of combined, contrasting materials, with sewn-on patterns of contemporary silhouettes, which the artist juxtaposed with embroidered texts known from children’s plays or songs, such as: Moja Ulijanko, klęknij na kolanko [Little Ula, take a knee], Mam chusteczkę haftowaną [I’ve got an embroidered hankie], Chodzi lisek koło drogi [There’s a little fox strolling along the road side]. The colourful braids, made of old clothes, are long and thick, and therefore also heavy and uncomfortable to wear. The artist called them “cultural braids”, thus suggesting that they function as something artificial, attached.

Jakub Woynarowski, “Outopos”

Outopos is an interactive diagram, that works only in the form of a website. Its hypertext structure is based on a series of graphics, text, and animation. In its design, the diagram is a conceptual grid, which creates a variable, visual essay, on the subject of utopia as the perfect non-existent place, “non-place” (outopos). The virtual space, where the work is located, is particularly suited to contemporary reflection on the topic of utopia, fitting into the framework of the construction of the new world.

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.

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 (Krakó,, 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.

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.

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.

Wojciech Doroszuk, “Reisefieber”

A project by Wojciech Doroszuk called Reisefieber concerns the problem of economic migration. During his stay in Berlin, the artist played the role of a newcomer from the East and was employed in the service sectors which are usually entrusted to emigrants. Based on his experience, five films and photography have been created, that form a multi-layered story of everyday, ordinary life in a foreign country, including both paid work and leisure activities, for example, participation in mass events organized in the city space. In each situation, the hero is shown as a stereotypical stranger, deprived of the will and the possibility of joining indigenous members of the community.

Nicolas Grospierre, “The House Which Grows”

The project by Nicolas Grospierre, The house which grows, tackles the problem of the gap between aesthetics and the functionality of architecture. In his work, the artist is interested in forms of modernist architecture and in how the very possibility of establishing universal public housing led to the fall of this utopian project.

Lidia Krawczyk, Wojciech Kubiak, from the series “Genderqueer: M.”

The project Genderqueer was implemented by Lidia Krawczyk and Wojciech Kubiak in the period 2006–2008. The first comprehensive presentation of a series of paintings, photographs, films, and sculptures was the exhibition, Becoming, in Bunkier Sztuki Gallery (2008), which, at the same time, was the crowning touch for all the activities related to it. The themes of the exhibition focused on the topic of the constant need to declare one’s identity and sexuality. The subject of interest to the artists was an attempt to show the ambiguity of the relations formed between what is feminine and masculine. People who expressed their willingness to share their experiences, related to expressing their own gender identity that deviates from socially expected conventions and the traditional division of gender roles, have become the protagonists of images and photography.

Maciej Chorąży, “Flashback Smurfs”

Maciej Chorąży’s work, Flashback Smurfs, contains an attempt to mirror perceiving the world from a child’s perspective and light criticism of consumer culture, which gives mass production objects symbolic meaning – sometimes even magical – always according to the standard algorithm of promoted values (such as beauty, youth, attractiveness, usefulness, and effectiveness). In realizing both these artistic assumptions, the ordinary object acquired from everyday surroundings play a central role.