Galeria Remont. Nieznana awangarda lat siedemdziesiątych
Remont Gallery. The Unknown Avant-Garde Of The Seventies
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The attempts to describe a history of Polish conceptualism in a systematic way, have been until now undertaken in a very similar way. The studies have concentrated mainly on outlining a few artistic centres with connections to the trend. These studies were discussed both in publications from the eighties and nineties and in more recent ones. Only Bożena Kowalska in her book Artystyczno-spoleczna problematyka zrzeszen plastykow w Polsce w latach 1946-1976 (Artistic and social problems of artistic groups in Poland in 1946-1976) (1981) presented a broader panorama of artistic trends that emerged in the seventies. The history of Polish conceptualism mostly covers a narrow circle of galleries: the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw, Pod Mona Lisa and Permafo in Wrocław, and Akumulatory2 in Poznań; a separate place is taken by film and photographic activities. The Remont Gallery in Warsaw, which was active around the same time, was not historically analysed. Its activity has always been treated as marginal. Undoubtedly this was caused by the specific atmosphere of those times, personal relationships and (often wrong) opinions which influenced the works of critics later on. What I refer to is the stance taken by the Foksal Gallery towards more and more frequent activities of the neo avant-garde, which meant that the gallery was often accused of non-uniformity, ambiguity of motives, but also aggression and mockery of the avant-garde. The creator and founder of the Remont Gallery was Henryk Gajewski. The official date when the Gallery was opened was 1.04.1972, and the date it closed was 06.11.1979. For almost seven years it hosted prominent Polish and foreign artists; it published numerous but modest publications, organised international conferences, exhibitions and activities that crossed the official boundaries of art. The gallery, from the very beginning, had little in common with the traditional concept of an art gallery. Its programme was filled with meetings with known publicists, political, social and cultural discussions and exhibitions with modern photography. Thanks to its open formula, the projects were realised by artists coming from various milieux. In the programme it was underlined, that it was not a gallery of one group or trend. What is worth noting is the fact that it showed the works of artists recognised as the leading representatives of neo avant-garde and now often linked with different art centers. The activities of the Remont Gallery can be compared to the activities of such places as Pod Mona Lisą and Permafo, where the gallery space was used for 'new media' or actions from the border of audiovisual art. The Remont Gallery in the beginning, similarly to Permafo, showed experimental photography and photo-conceptualism (Lucjan Demindowski, Krzysztof Wojciechowski, Elzbieta Tejchman, Andrzej Jorczak, Andrzej Lachowicz, Antoni Mikolajczyk, Zygmunt Rytka and Henryk Gajewski). No other gallery in Warsaw was more dynamic and with such a diversified programme, which allows us to analyse its activity from the perspective of a variety of discourses situated on the border of conceptual, contextual art, performance, mail-art, photography, installation, body art, audio-art or happenings.
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