Igor Krenz is a visual artist who works with film and photography. He was born in 1959 in Katowice, and now lives and works in Warsaw.
Graduated from the faculty of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1986. In the 1990s he founded the ‘Cinema’ film group, an informal group that creates experimental art videos and new media art. Krenz also collaborated with Łyżka Czyli Chili and co-founded the Azorro group (with Oskar Dawicki, Wojciech Niedzielko and Łukasz Skąpski).
Since 1990 Krenz has been engaged in film and photography projects. His films from the 1990s seem to be a sort of game. Their titles always bear thesis that are later proved by the films’ storylines. Formally, all of them are sparse records of experiments that have a touch of nonsense and the absurd. Some of the films are very short, others go on until the experiments bring the awaited effects. In Stone and Tin Cup (1990) Krenz tries to aim a stone at a tin cup with the use of a primitive catapult. Another time the artist tried to prove that Fire is Better than Scissors (1994) by repeating an experiment with a hammer held by cotton and a bottle. When the artist cuts the cotton with a pair of scissors, the hammer does not break the bottle, when he burns the cotton, the hammer points perfectly in the centre of the bottle breaking it into pieces. In a different film, he showed the way Light Turns off the Light (1994). Łukasz Gorczyca wrote:
All of his doings have the sense of an action that does not care about the passing of time but at the same time plays an intriguingly intelligent game with cognitive rationality. (…) By using simple film tricks and a charming sense of humour, Igor is able to successfully raise doubts in the most obvious physical facts. At the same time he challenges, or sometimes even ridicules, the formulated video art canons showing how far film’s illusiveness can lead our believes, imagination, and emotions.
In 2006 Krenz shot the eight-hour long film The Palace, which shows the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw from dawn to dusk in an unmoving, stagnant frame reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s famous Empire from 1964. Later on, the artist invited the Jackass team, a group famous for unsophisticated and dangerous performances, to watch The Palace. Only one of the viewers made it till the end of the screening. A coverage of the event was transmitted by MTV. Łukasz Ronduda and Marianka Dobkowska commented:
Krenz referred inter alia to the fact that MTV since the time of its establishment in 1981 has been permanently commercializing the whole history of film and video, being interested exclusively in new visual aesthetics and ‘formal achievements’ produced by contemporary artists, it seriously lacked attention towards the conceptual and ideological context of their realizations.
The artist frequently refers or looks back at the past achievements of other artists. In 2006 he created a reconstruction of interferences within a television programme broadcast in the 1980s by researchers connected with Solidarność (Solidarity) in Toruń (TV ‘S’). Krenz imposed the subtitles that were visible by viewers in the first place (because of a transmitter constructed by astronomers from the Mikołaj Kopernik University) on original programmes of the time. In another work, he recreated on a 1:1 scale the crucial photograph from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up (1966), which is so important for identifying the mystery of the film’s plot (Blow-up, 2007). In one of his other works the artist used an already existing pornographic film from 1981, a Silva Video production, and by cutting away the sexual action, unveiled an unnoticed narration and some largely omitted threads (Analiza formalna – A Formal Analysis, 2005). On the exhibition Imaginary Cleaning of 2007 from Muzeum Sztuki in Lódź, Krenz interfered in the Neoplastic Room arranged by Władysław Strzemiński. A Theo van Doseburg painting that was in the room was turned upside down by Krenz with the use of film tools and a monitor in a way that its diagonal divisions became vertical/horizontal. The painting was thus brought back to restrictive rules defined by the neoplasticism founder Piet Mondrian.
At a certain point Krenz came back to his first film, shot at the age of fourteen with his father’s camera. It shows a bird in flight which 13-year-old Krenz tried to follow with the camera. Presented at the ‘Artist’ exhibition Ptak (A Bird) became homage paid to Józef Rybkowski. As Stach Szabłowski wrote:
It may be understood through its resemblance to the structural cinema created by Rybkowski.
Works of Igor Krenz was reminded by an individual, retrospective exhibition in WRO Art Centre in Wrocław in 2008 called Illegal Practices. The title was meant to refer to the ‘sabotage’ character of his works.
Author: Karol Sienkiewicz, December 2008, translated by Antoni Wiśniewski, March 2016.
Selected individual exhibitions:
- 1992 – Galeria Młodych, Warsaw
- 2000 – Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- 2004 – Consequences of Logical Mistake – Arsenał Gallery, Białystok
- 2007 – Blow-Up – WRO Art Centre, Wrocław
- 2008 – Illegal Practices – WRO Art Centre, Wrocław
- 2011 – Mathematical Morphology in Teledetection, WRO Atelier, Wrocław
Selected group exhibitions:
- 1992 – Eye on a Fork or Hot Ice-cream. Crème de la crème of Polish Art of the 1990s – The BWA Contemporary Art. Gallery, Katowice
- 1996 – Transfer. Malarstwo – instalacje (Transfer. Painting – Installation) - Arsenał, The Historical Museum, Wrocław
- 1999 – Między kulturą a naturą (Between Culture and Nature) - Bielska BWA Gallery, Bielsko-Biała
- 2001 – Pop Elita – Bunker of Art, Kraków
- WRO 03. Globalica – Wrocław
- Public Space in the Polish Video Art - Podewil, Berlin
- 2004 – De ma fenetre, des artistes et leur territoire - Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
- 2005 – WRO 05 – Wrocław
- Polyphony of Images. A Night of Cutting-Edge Contemporary Art from Poland – Polish Cultural Institute, New York
- 1..., 2..., 3... Avant-garde – Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- Runaway – Priestor Gallery, Bratislava
- Pink not dead! - Garash Gallery, Mexico
- Illegal Practices - Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź
- Several Seconds of Badly Developed Film – Raster Gallery, Warsaw
- Asteizm – Program Gallery, Warszawa
- Don't try this at Home – Okna Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- Artists Recommend Each Other - Appendix2 Gallery, Warsaw
- Videozone - International Video Art Biennial, Tel-Aviv
- Manual CC - Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- So ist es und Anders - Stadtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach