AWACS | 1981–1983
Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art bunkier.art.pl/
Opening: 15 April 2014, 6 pm
The exhibition will run: 16 April – 25 May 2014
Exhibition curator: Krzysztof Siatka
Exhibition partner: Association Fragile
The exhibition of the group AWACS, created in the period 1981–1983 by Piotr Grzybowski and Maciej Toporowicz, will present a collection of artefacts that document the activity of the group. This is an introduction to a broader critical and academic discussion of the legacy of the collective. As part of the preparation for the exhibition and, while it is showing, the process will begin of assembling materials that will combine into a bank of oral history – a collection of video recordings of statements by the artists and those who witnessed events initiated by AWACS. The collection will eventually be available to the public.
In 1981, Piotr Grzybowski and Maciej Toporowicz created a unique performing duo, which, in the course of its creative activities, organised a number of actions that challenged the traditional and institutionalised models of Krakow artistic life. Performances, usually illegal, took place on the premises of art institutions such as the BWA, Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych – today, Bunkier Sztuki (Róża [Rose], 1981, during the 9th Krakow Encounters or in the workshops of the Academy of Fine Arts (e.g., Tapes, 1981) or in private flats or cellars (Underground, 1981). The performers, inspired by the experiences of neo-avant-garde movements (especially the Viennese Actionists), personified the determination of the young generation of artists marked violently by Martial Law.
The starting point for the curator of the exhibition is the premise that rebellion was the fundamental artistic value of the art produced by AWACS. It can be identified with international alternative cultural trends in the early 1980s and perceived in conjunction with the nostalgic values of the Krakow community. In its drastic and extreme projects that stemmed from the need to break down one barrier after another, AWACS demonstrated the emotions driving a contemporaneous young generation raised in the greyness of the People’s Republic.
At the time when AWACS was active, the phenomenon that the group presented was noted in leading world publications devoted to performance art. The legacy of AWACS lives on in the performative arts community; it has, however, never been subjected to systematic academic research, re-interpretation or popularisation. The exhibition at Bunkier Sztuki intends to change this.
The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Piotr Grzybowski, who died in August 2013, during the preparation of the exhibition.
During the opening of the exhibition, Maciej Toporowicz will present an AWACS action entitled The Fourth Trial, originally performed in a private flat in Dietla Street in Krakow in November 1982.