Polish visual artists have caused an unprecedented stir by recently releasing an album of sound and music pieces.
They're in the spotlight: Wojciech Bąkowski and Dawid Szczęsny's band Niwea performed as a
support before the legendary Kraftwerk, Konrad Smoleński's sound installation represents Poland at the Venice Biennale of Art, Katarzyna Krakowiak received an honourable mention at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice for a project exploring the relation between architecture and sound.
The first encounter between Polish art and punk music took place at the beginning of the 80s.
What united them was their shared opposition of the imposition of Martial Law and the dominating
aesthetics. A number of projects were born at that time, among others Józef Robakowski's "Zapis energetyczny" (Energetic Recording) created with the help of the band Moskwa, Zbigniew Libera, Jerzy Truszkowski and Barbara Konopka's artistic/ musical formation, and the Akademia Ruchu whose many campaigns unfolded to punk songs.
Nowadays, young Polish artists are not only interested by punk and rock subcultures. Artists whose projects are closer to avantgarde such as Anna Zaradny and Piotr Bosacki are surfacing. Others are dedicated to popular genres like disco polo (see Galactics) or shanty (see Kashanti). They employ conventions, create pastiches as well as minimalistic, electronic and experimental tracks.
Read about the music album "The Artists", a compilation of tracks recorded by young visual artists, released by the Zachęta National Gallery of Art and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Wojciech Bąkowski AKA WueSBe is a star of the Polish artisticmusical scene, perhaps the
biggest. His meticulously planned performances not only maintain an elevated artistic level but his
entire person represents a serious approach to art. The tall, bald, black dressed man with white
socks (and often carrying a carrier bag) can put the audience of his melorecitals into a hypnotic
He leads several projects. Among them are: the band Kot (Cat) an intermix of hiphop and 80s
New Wave which replaces instruments with tape recorders (20042010, initially with Konrad
Smoleński among others, and Piotr Bosacki later on), the duo Niwea (with Dawid Szczęsny)
performing experimental electronic music, and the band Czykita. Bąkowski is coinitiator of the
informal artistic group Penerstwo in Poznań, a winner of the "Spojrzenia 2009" (Views 2009) and
the "Paszport Polityki 2010" awards. He has released albums under a number of labels, including a few self-releases, as well as web releases.
Boring Drug is cosmic rock played by Igor Kłaczyński, painter Tomek Kowalski and Łukasz
Jastrubczak, winner of the "Spojrzenia 2013" (Views 2013) Award. The artists improvise with
sound, repeat and create clashes between postrock, ambient, krautrock and progressive cosmic
rock. They bring back 60s psychedelia on three synthesisers and a set of drums.
Piotr Bosacki "Mały zwój", 2005. Performers: Ewa Guzowska, Marianna Szadowiak, Tomasz Lisiecki, Przemysław Mrowiński, Andrzej Nowicki, Batrosz Woroch
Bosacki is a member of the art group Penerstwo and Wojtek Bąkowski's band Kot. He
concentrates on the problems surrounding composition, an artistic endeavour which is of abstract
nature. "I don't play any instrument, but I write notes" – he told Culture.pl.
Since 2005 he has been creating "Zwoje" – meant for string or wind instruments. The
composition thereof is based on one of the socalled tricks from the Netherlands employed in the
15th and 16th centuries.
"[…] a piece of paper with musical notation can be read the way it was written, from
left to right, but you can also turn the piece of paper around and read the notation under
the light, in a mirror reflection."
For the The Artists festival he suggested "Ćwiczenia z kontrapunktu" (Exercises from
counterpoint) performed by the young pianist Krzysztof Dys from the jazz band Soundcheck.
"The music resembles the contemporary section of the Warsaw Autumn [International Festival of
Contemporary Music]" – Jakub Banasiak wrote in Szum Magazine.
Cipedrapskuad is a radical hiphop group formed in 2012 by Dominika Olszowy, Maria Toboła
and the DJ Efekt Dziada (Fryderyk Lisek). Describing their style, the artists says that it "brings
together brutal rap and arrogant glamour with the wrath of the streets, the apparently vulgar texts
have a clean, timeless message […], they reveal the true faces of people, their fears and desires."
Culture.pl presents an exclusive first viewing of Cipedrapskuad's video clip shot for the Raster
Gallery exhibition "Społeczeństwo jest niemiłe" (Society is unkind). The clip, containing five
songs, was shot on the streets of the Warsaw district of Praga in a single camera position.
"The somnolent and average scenery of the illfamed streets becomes a background for
an aggressive, emancipated narration which exceeds the hiphop form by capturing it"
– the exhibition curators write.
Performing concerts nonstop since 2007, in good style that have not diminished in quality,
Galactics imitate disco polo and guarantee their public a fun time. The band is lead by Rafał
Dominik, a visual artist and representative of the disco polo genre. Alongside him are Krzysztof
Czajka and Michał Grzymała. By joining disco polo with dance music they create a new genre of
progressive or modern disco polo.
The band Gówno, which "represents a class of its own" as Jakub Banasiak wrote in Szum
Magazine, confirms the strong links between Polish art and punk. Founded in 2009 by graduates of
the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk: Maciej Salamon, Tomek Pawluczuk, Marcin Bobera, Adam
Witkowski and Piotr Kaliński, they mix country, punk, black metal and noise. The artists consider
themselves to be pioneers of the rodeo punk genre. So far, they have brought out two professional
albums, home burned CDRs and socalled EPs (short downloadable albums). This is how they
qualify their music,
"There undoubtedly exists a connection between visual arts and sounds, which Gówno
releases. Looking at the artistic output of the band solely in the categories of sound
doesn't fully reflect what Gówno is."
Gówno was nominated to the Aktivist's Nocne Marki Award and Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto's
Sztormy Roku Award, it was also up for a "Paszport Polityki". Members of the band play in other
formations and take part in other projects such as Hatti Vatti, Trupa Trupa, Efektvol, Langfurtka,
Samorządowcy, Loyal Plastic Robot, Nagrobki and CHiP.
In existence since 2008, Kashanti is the musical creation of the artistic group szu szu. Piotr Kopik,
Ivo Nikić and Karol Radziszewski pretend to be sailors. They sing experimental shanties about life
and art. They have a habit of inviting the public to sing with them at their psychedelic, cabaret
like concerts. Each one of their performances is a show of perfomative arts in which music (or
more accurately loud howling "under the influence") is equally as important as the show. So far
they have released two albums: "Kashanti" and "Sailors".
IGOR KRENZ – MACIO MORETTI
The video creator and member of Supergroup Azorro – Igor Krenz and Macio Moretti (Maciej
Moruś), a leading musician of contemporary Polish music, have been cooperating since 1999. As a
duo called Krus & Morenz, they created remixes that bring back the searches of avantgarde
cinema of the 20th century. They authored an analoguedigital sound visualisation system and the
artistic manifest Bogna. Its principles were deployed in Starzy Sida's videoclip "Za daleko" (Too
far). Mitch & Mitch's videoclip on the other hand, was created in a counterBogna fashion. They
produced a series of educational instructory videos for TVP1 "Mały Szu uczy, bawi, radzi" (Little
Szy teaches, amuses, advises). They have cooperated with artists from France (Pascal Creole),
Great Britain (Gary Whitemann) and the United States (Jason Lipnick).
Their latest joint project, with the cooperation of Patryk Dąbrowski and Piotr Zabrodzki (Efekt
Moozgu), is a conceptual piece Napalm Of Death and was created for the purposes of the Warsaw
based festival The Artists in 2013. The artists set up a giant wall of speakers and extracted the
essence of grindcore music through a second long sound.
Libera, who has been one of Poland's best known representatives of critical art since the 80s was
the leader of the punk bands Sternenhoch and Nihilistyczny Alians Orgiastyczny. Other band
members included Jerzy Truszkowski, Barbara Konopka and Jacek Rydecki. Łukasz Ronduda
"They created a provocative, iconoclastic power which baffled not only society but their
fellow artists. Their primary goal was creative, intense, "colourful" life."
Around 2010, together with Grzegorz Drozd, Libera recorded a limited edition LP with an
improvised session of sound eruptions. Each cover went on to become a unique piece of art – with
maps of the world drawn by Drozd on the one side and maps drawn by Libera on the other.
Together with the performer Oskar Dawicki and two renowned musicians (Tony Kinsky and Piotr
"Fala" Falkowski) they created Gas – a project on the crossroads between art and rock'n'roll. The
spectacular stage debut of the formation – and so far their only concert – took place in Kyiv during
the opening of the First Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art Arsenale 2012.
Since its inception in 2009, the band Rano only has one song in their repertoire – a hit about a
packet of coffee for 6 zloty, 20 groszy and a gram of cociane for 200 zloty.
The first unannounced concerts of the formation took place in coffeehouse chain cafés in the
morning. The founders and performers were Stanisław Boniecki (Bobrowiec), Bartek Kraciuk,
Grażyna Malinowska and Tomek Saciłowski.
At the 2013 The Artists festival, Saciłowski aka SACT and the musician Bobi Peru (Maciej
Sinkowski) played "a set of pop, hip hop and electro punk tracks, enrichened by deceitful,
The experimental sound installations by one of the members of the artistic group Penerstwo take
part in the most prestigious events of the artistic world – in 2013 he represented Poland at the 55th
Venice Biennale of Art and at the New York Performa. Smoleński is (or was) a member of
numerous musical formations. From Kristen, Kot, Mama, Sixa, to the most known BNNT, which
he cocreated with the designer Daniel Szwed.
BNNT (once called BrowNNote) is more than cacacophonic clatter in a gallery or a concert hall,
it's also "Sound Bombing" an attack of a sound explosion in an enclosed space. In a stereo
equipped vehicle, masked artists move around the city with aggressive music. The fun often ends
with an intervention of the law enforcement.
"Some connote the term "sound bombing" (and the whole formation) with military or
guerilla action, but to me it connotes more with bombing known from graffiti. So the
same way that you bomb walls with large paintings, you can bomb a space with sound.
Enter by surprise, interfere, disturb the order" – Smoleński said.
The artist creates prototypes of his own instruments, like the famous Bomba – a scaled copy of an
airground bullet. Smolenski collaborates with the PinkPunk collective and ArtBazaar Records
publishing house. He is a winner of the "Spojrzenia 2011" (Views 2011) Award.
At the The Artists festival, for the first time he cooperated with the artist Adam Witkowski
(member of the band Gówno). Together they made the sound project x0.
"The duo's works are electric, cyclical, space based. To the palette of sounds resulting
from reversed connexions, boosting speakers by electrocution and simple synthesis, the
artists add the sound of naturally generated echoes and a simple instrumentarium" – the
A graduate of conducting and musical theory, she is the author of experiments and electroacoustic
improvisations in the form of concerts, installations or objects. She continues avantgarde
experiments which discredit the traditional notion of a musical piece with a closed form and
unambiguous authorship. A particular role in this process was played by new technologies. The
artist's main instruments are the saxophone and a laptop.
Zaradny recorded solo albums and sound art projects among others with Burkhard Stangl, Tony
Buck, Robert Piotrowicz and Core Fuhler. She is cocreator of the Musica Genera Festival and
winner of the public award of the Deutsche Bank Foundation Views 2011 competition.
Author: Agnieszka Sural, translator: Mai Jones 28/03/2014