The WRO Art Centre and the WRO Biennale
#photography & visual arts
small, The WRO Art Centre and the WRO Biennale, Cod.Act, (André + Michel Décosterd), Pendulum Choir, 2012, performance, photo: (c) Xavier Voirol / The Media Art Biennale, biennale wro 2013 8_6918471.jpg
The WRO Art Centre is one of the most important Polish institutions for developing, presenting, and promoting different forms of contemporary media, electronic, performative, and interactive art, particularly works from the range of new media and other experimental forms.
The WRO was established in the 1980s as an independent initiative and from its beginnings was led by Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska (now its director), Piotr Krajewski (now chief curator), and Zbigniew Kupisz (now chief producer). The WRO Art Centre was opened in 2008 in Wrocław.
Media art and the transition to democracy in Poland
The first preview of media art and interdisciplinary matters was organized by Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska, Piotr Krajewski, Zbigniew Kupisz and Lech Janerka in 1989 as the Sound Basis Visual Art Festival, despite the ongoing censorship and against the official cultural institutions. The festival promoted art that intersects performative, visual, and sound techniques with electronic ones. It was the first festival in Poland to show electronic art in its varied interdisciplinary and experimental forms. The festival was not only a phenomenon from a Polish perspective but also joined an international group of similar initiatives all over the world. Piotr Krajewski recollected:
The radical artistic groups that experimented with electronic engineering in the area of images established a chain of exchange of works and ideas that was largely independent from institutions of the stabilized world of art which started to function effective and vital. Even in the highly developed countries the electronic art was in the 1980s evolving along the side of the cultural and artistic mainstreams. Meanwhile , a process of its gradual coming out from the alternative area began. The ideas and initiatives of that group were gathering an increasing influence over the shape of the decade. 
The first WRO festivals (1989, 1990, 1991) presented barely recognizable artform that used media technology. They coincided with the democratic changes in Poland that influenced not only the systemic changes but the cultural ones as well (visible in the very same approaches of the artists and art viewers to the media technology). Thanks to the WRO Foundation, a platform of a joined artistic community interested not exclusively in video art but also in new forms of computer, interactive and generative art and generally in technological experimentation in artistic practice emerged in Poland.
At the WRO festival of 1989 200 video works were shown, a third part of those works was created by Polish artists. Such a huge contribution of Poles was surprising at the time but also confirmed that despite the lack of funds and normal contacts with the rest of the world, some new communities interested in video and computer art were established in the 1980s but were not able to show their work earlier. 
wro art centre
the european capital of culture wrocław 2016
The pioneer’s perspective
In the 1990s the festival evolved incredibly dynamic, presenting the achievements of the most important Polish and global artists of media art. In 1993 the WRO Festival became the first cultural event in Poland to be granted with EU patronage within the Eureka Audiovisual programme. In 1995 the WRO released its first catalogue in CD-ROM format and launched an internet site for the festival that emerged into the first multimedia web site of any artistic event in Poland. In the very same year, the programme about Polish video art was presented for the first time in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the next decade, the WRO Biennale developed into a prestigious event with an international range that not only presents the most important works from the area of art technology but also creates space for new transdisciplinary researches and experiments.
Author: Michał Krawczak, translated by Antoni Wiśniewski, March 2016
 Piotr Krajewski, The WRO Festival and the Beginnings of the Digital Breakthrough in Poland, [in:] Art. And Technology in Poland. From Cybercommunism to the Culture of Makers, ed. A. Jelewska, Poznań 2014, 43. http://hatcenter.amu.edu.pl/publikacje/art-and-technology-in-poland/
 Piotr Krajewski, The WRO Festival and the Beginnings of the Digital Breakthrough in Poland, [in:] Art. And Technology in Poland. From Cybercommunism to the Culture of Makers, ed. A. Jelewska, Poznań 2014, 45. http://hatcenter.amu.edu.pl/publikacje/art-and-technology-in-poland/