The 1988 Freiheit? Nein, danke! is one of the most prominent creations of Łódź Kaliska, and a breakthrough work in the career of the artists. After the ties brining together the wider community of the Pitch-In Culture had dissolved, Łódź Kaliska members focused on collaboration among each other, and moved from their previous anarchistic, art-world-contesting stance towards a postmodernist play of quotations, pastiche, and borrowed meanings. In 1987 the group entered into possession of a video camera, which allowed it to record performances for camera, document events and recreate previously unrecorded actions. It was at that time that the now iconic stagings of classic works of art were created, along with the famous Freiheit? Nein, danke!, a jocular reconstitution of Eugene Delacroix's Liberty leading the people.
Nonetheless, this work represents more than just a simple joke on the art history canon. Its perverse title — to add fuel to the fire in German, which at that time in Poland could be interpreted as a purposeful provocation — reflected the years of struggle of Łódź Kaliska against the aporia of liberty in the field of art. Subsequent experience in creating “embarrassing art”, “idiotic art”, “unfocused art” etc., conceptualised in numerous theoretical texts, have led the artists to believe that any violation of artistic conventions, insult to audience, as well as disdain for art institutions, and creation of intentionally trivial, mediocre, and pointless works, will sooner or later be absorbed by the art system. Acts of resistance belong to the domain of art, and it is in accordance with its rules that they are interpreted. Artist’s liberty may seem very ample but it stems from the very status of the artists and their works (similarly, in Łódź Kaliska’s view, there is no freedom from society). Thus, the idea of freedom in art seems to be naïve or false — that is why Łódź Kaliska artists decided to make do without such freedom.
Freiheit? Nein, danke!is a rejection of liberty offered to artists by the society, in a deliberate, bantering, frivolous, and immature act. As a paradox, if anywhere, it was in those brief moments of antics, shenanigans, immature jokes, frolics, and mischief where Łódź Kaliska saw freedom, and again, paradoxically, it was burdened with great solemnity and tension, in spite of the festive and ludic atmosphere. The film serves as a testimony: the artists are fooling around in front of the camera, pushing each other out of the frame, frolicking, making faces, waving around their genitalia.
The film shot by Andrzej Kwietniewski (according to his and Marek Janiak’s concept) accompanied the creation of a photograph by the same title. The photograph was displayed in 1988 during the Polska fotografia intermedialna exhibition, a major event at the Art Exhibitions Bureau (BWA) in Poznań. In front of the large-format photograph, a nude female model was placed, around whom Łódź Kaliska artists continued with their actions, such as colouring elements of the photograph, or adding humorous slogans. The event attracted the attention of the visitors and gained recognition among at least some of the critics, e.g. in Poznań Krzysztof Jurecki expressed a positive opinion on Łódź Kaliska. However, there was a scandal too: during the dinner, the members of the group threw a pork knuckle in the direction of the table where Andrzej Lachowicz and Urszula Czartoryska were seated.
The altered, repainted version of the 1989 photograph, known by the title The Bull Man is currently in the depository of the Museum of Modern Art.
Jarosław Lubiak (ed.), "Szczerość i blaga. Etyka prac Łodzi Kaliskiej w latach 1979-89", Łódź 2009.
Łódź Kaliska (ed. & comp.), "Bóg zazdrości nam pomyłek", Łódź 1999.
Marta Pierzchała (ed.), "Biała aura", Łódź 2010.
The film was shot by Józef Robakowski in collaboration with Witold Krymarys, two neo-avant-garde multimedia artists from Łódź, specialised in photography, film, and video art. The film shows the happening organised by Łódź Kaliska, i.e. Marek Janiak, Adam Rzepecki, Andrzej “Makary” Wielogórski, and Andrzej Kwietniewski, with whom Robakowski did not share the views on the meaning of the Pitch-In Culture (the founder of the Exchange Gallery used this term to cover the entire independent art movement of the 1980s) or on the aesthetics, in which he often referred to the legacy of the great avant-garde, rejected in turn by the members of Łódź Kaliska. This provoked a conflict regarding the authorship of the film: was it the camera operators (Robakowski and Krymarys) or the Łódź Kaliska members, who performed in front of the cameras. In 1988 Robakowski re-edited the original recording, slowed it down, changed the colours, added Witold Lutosławski’s music, and titled the picture Party mit Lutosławski. It is also worth noting that the film featured many other persons, apart from those already mentioned, i.a. Jacek Jóźwiak, Paweł Kwiek, Zofia Łuczko, Dariusz Kędziora, Jarosław Bogusiak, Andrzej Janaszewski, Zygmunt Rytka, Zbigniew Bińczyk, and Andrzej Wielogórski, the cousin of “Makary”.
Paradoxically, the conflict illustrates the creative contribution of the filmmakers who participated in the events not only by recording them but also actively created them. “The expressive, if not dramatic, scenes clearly surpassed the original intentions of the filmmakers, whose initial idea was to edit a video clip in natural surroundings (i.e. on a city boulevard and inside The Attic, an extremely important spot for the artistic milieu) for a song, which was popular in Łódź at that time” wrote a critic, Jolanta Ciesielska. The artists initiated actions in the City of Łódź, in the streets and in the “Balaton” bar, and proceeded with a party at The Attic. By means of pitch-in they gathered funds for vodka and potatoes, as a snack, which well reflected a slightly poor and slightly decadent atmosphere of The Attic. In the finale of the film, the relative of “Makary” is heard saying his famous remark that “art requires sacrifice”. In that he refers to having his late father’s accordion, damaged by the artists. In the context of a farewell party for The Attic, the phrase seems to capture well the spirit of artistic underground with its “economic world turned upside down” (as Pierre Bourdieu put it in the Rules of Art)
The film is 17 minutes long, and it was first presented in 1987 during a video film festival in students’ gallery Dziekanka in Warsaw.
Marek Janiak (ed.), "Kultura Zrzuty", Warszawa 1989.
Łódź Kaliska (ed. & elab.), "Bóg zazdrości nam pomyłek", Łódź 1999.
Jolanta Ciesielska, "Videoperformance", in: Piotr Krajewski i Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska, "Ukryta dekada. Polska sztuka wideo 1985-1995", Wrocław 2010.
- Brașov, Romania
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This is a document containing a conclusion based on investigative actions pertaining to the alleged emergence of nationalism in the Emigrant Foundation of Croatia (EFC) from 1964 to 1967, i.e. during the term of Većeslav Holjevac as its president. The Commission has identified incidents that "have manifested a certain nationalistic turn as well as an unhealthy climate, suitable for further deformities in the Emigrant Foundation of Croatia-" Holjevac was held the most responsible for this, because of "deeper ideological and political misconceptions about the national issue he is considering outside of the class and social context." Henceforth, Holjevac was forced to resign from membership in the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia (CC LCC), and consequently from the post of president of the EFC. As a concrete fault, the document specifies: the shortcomings of the proposed EFC Charter due to the one-sided orientation on emigrants exclusively of Croatian nationality, then the mitigation of the characterization of two emigrant organizations - the "Croatian Academy" in New York and the "American-Croatian Academic Club" in Cleveland (from those hostile to Yugoslavia, to neutral, cultural organizations) in materials prepared by Secretary I. Marinković. Holjevac was also accused of hesitating to condemn the Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Literary Language and its signatories, the lack of a reception and non-attendance on Republic Day in 1966, the singing of Croatian songs on New Year’s Eve ("Heavenly Maiden, Queen of the Croats," "Arise, banus"). The accusations included an appeal for help from emigrants during the flood in Zagreb in 1964, because it was addressed to "Croatian emigrants and other Yugoslav citizens on temporary work abroad," as well as putting Franjo Tuđman, Zvonimir Komarica and Ivo Frangeš on the list for the Main Committee (MC) of the EFC, and the rationale for signing a letter of solidarity with Ljudevit Jonke after the official condemnation of the aforementioned Declaration.
Holjevac was additionally found guilty of political aberrations on the nationalist viewpoint because of his disagreement with such assessments and for "ignoring his political responsibility." The Commission therefore instructed the convening of the EFC Extraordinary Assembly because of the changes in the MC and the definition of the EFC’s orientation "in accordance with the policies of our society."
This document is a very clear example of repressive action taken by the CC LCC, i.e., one of its bodies, in terms of cultural policy. Conduct beyond the established ideological line was not allowed and was quickly dealt with, and those involved were punished by the loss of their status in society, functions and often employment, and were placed under surveillance.
By 1995, the document was, along with the other records of socio-political organisations, a part of the Archives of the Institute of History of the Labour Movement of Croatia/Institute of Contemporary History. That year, in July, it was handed over to the Croatian State Archives (CSA), where it is kept today. The documents are accessible for use without any restrictions.
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The card contains three cut and glued press clippings containing reports on trials for “offences against the people and the State by enemy propaganda.” As a criminal act aimed against the people and the State, enemy propaganda was defined in the 1951 Criminal Code as propaganda by illustration, writing, or public speech at rallies or otherwise, aimed against the state structure and social system, and against political, economic, military or other important institutions of the people’s government. Strict imprisonment was stipulated as punishment for the perpetration of such a crime.
Two press clippings refer to trials against Vlatko Pavletić (Zagreb, 2 December 1930 – Zagreb, 19 September 2007), the then editor-in-chief of the magazine Kritika, a publication of the literary organization Matica hrvatska and the Croatian Association of Writers. The third clipping refers to a trial against journalist Smiljana Rendić (Split, 1926 – Trsat, 1994), because of her article “Izlazak iz genitiva ili drugi hrvatski preporod” [‘Exit from the genitive or the second Croatian revival’], published in 1971 in the issue no. 18 of the same magazine, which was therefore banned. Together with a group of officials of Matica hrvatska, Pavletić was arrested in 1972 and then sentenced to a year and a half of strict imprisonment as a Croatian nationalist on charges of “attempting to overthrow and alter the state structure.” Rendić was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment and was banned from public activity for one year after her release. They demonstrate a number of cases of prosecution against members of the Croatian Spring that followed the suppression of that reform movement in Croatia at the end of 1971. A significant part of this prosecution encompassed cultural institutions and humanist intellectuals. The work of Matica hrvatska and its magazine Kritika were banned by the communist authorities. The collection includes a number of press clippings about these events, grouped in several topics in the categories for Culture (filing folders KUL 320 and KUL 491) and Domestic affairs (filing folder UP 27 and UP 28), and in the dossiers Public Persons category. The documents are available for research and copying.
- Zagreb, Croatia
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