Anthropological stories and insights from vrije universiteit amsterdam
Anthropologists in Art presents: Neon Warszawski
Published March 4, 2013
Anthropologists in Art presents: Neon Warszawski – Polish Neon, a photography exhibition on Socialist visual communication
By Ilona Karwinska & Krzysztof Wojciechowski
February 9th – March 16th @ WM GALLERY, Elandsgracht 35, 1016 TN, Amsterdam
OPENING: SAT. 9th OF FEBRUARY, 17.00-19.00
About the exhibition:
In 1957, at a conference in Czechoslovakia, Communist Party ideologues agreed that neon could be a way to reconcile the seemingly contradictory ideas of communism and consumerism in their ailing, state-run economies. The Polish Socialist Party, having created the state-run company ‘Reklama’, throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, recruited prominent artists and designers to bring about a transformation through light, playfully modifying the uniformity of the grey, drab socialist skyline. “Neon Warszawski – Polish Neon” shows the photographs of two Polish artists, photographer and Neon Muzeum director Ilona Karwi?ska and independent photographer Krzysztof Wojciechowski, whose photographs of old school Polish neon signs adorn the walls of WM Gallery. Both artists present the exquisitely designed neons from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s from different perspectives. Whereas Karwi?ska’s photographs present the signs from a more ‘documentary’ point of view, due to her efforts of rescuing the old signage from disintegration and anonymity, Wojciechowski’s black and white photographs from the 1970’s show us night-time Warsaw as it must have been; glum, dark and deserted, enlivened only by the fanciful rectangles and curls of Poland’s premier designers in light. Visit the official webpage HERE.
About the artists:
ILONA KARWINSKA, Warsaw (PL). Based in London UK. Author & Photographer Ilona Karwinska MA, British fine art photographer, specializes in portraiture and world cultures. Ilona is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and the London College of Printing with a Masters degree in Image and Communication. Her most recent project Polish Neon (which explores the disappearing world of communist era neon graphics) has recieved critical acclaim. Since her Polish Neon photographic exhibitions in Covent Garden London, the iconic Palace of Culture & Science, Warsawand Luxembourgs Fundacion de Architecture, her project has been credited with starting a neon revolution.
KRYSTOF WOJCIECHOWSKI, Warsaw (PL), Photographer, video artist and curator. Wojciechowski started out studying physics at the University of Warsaw and began to photograph in the 1960s. In 1968, he met Andrzej Jórczak and began, what was to become a fruitful artistic cooperation for the both of them. Their first exhibition (together with Pawe? ?ucki) took place in 1969. In the first half of the1970s Wojciechowski became an active member of the Remont Gallery group. This gallery, led by conceptual artist Henryk Gajewski, was then one of the very few galleries in Poland that promoted and presented conceptual art. Since 1975, Wojciechowski became a member of ZPAF (Union of Polish Art Photographers). Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, he realised two large projects: “Childrens Plays” and “Passer-by”; the latter being a documentation of political graffiti. His work can be regarded as consisting of two main bodies: metaphorical ” and “Musica Muta”) and para-journalistic works (“Parabolae”, “Levantine stories”, “Colours of War”).
The exhibition is kindly supported by: Amsterdams Fonds Voor de Kunst and Neon Muzeum (Warsaw, PL).
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