Krzysztof Skiba Private Archive
Krzysztof Skiba's archive is a private collection of photos, movies, zines, books, articles, and leaflets documenting the alternative culture phenomena that Skiba participated in during the 1980s. The majority of the collection covers the street happenings created by the Gallery of Maniacal Activities in Łódź, the activities of anarchist Alternative Society Movement in Gdańsk, the very first years of the punk cabaret Big Cyc, and the first exhibition of the third circuit papers and magazines co-organized by Skiba in 1989.
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Name of collection
- Krzysztof Skiba Private Archive
Provenance and cultural activities
The private collection emerged spontaneously as an effect of music, artistic, and political undertakings of Krzysztof Skiba, who through the 1980s was an animator of alternative culture and activist of the anarchist movement in Gdańsk and Łódź. In 1983 he co-founded the Alternative Society Movement famed as the first post-war anarchist organization in Poland. The same year he moved from Gdańsk to Łódź, where he started studies at Łódź University and quickly joined the team of the student theatre Pstrąg. Then he became an animator in student club Balbina in Łódź, where from 1987 he organized exhibitions, concerts, happenings and other events, many of them presenting radical neo-avant-garde such as Łódź Kaliska group or underground artists, e.g. Totart and Praffdata collectives. Meanwhile, Skiba joined the publicly acting, anti-militarist Freedom and Peace movement, because after he had been arrested and subsequently imprisoned in 1985 he was no longer anonymous and so had to cease underground anarchist activism. In 1988 Skiba formed a punk cabaret Big Cyc (Big Tit) as a way of legally spreading the anti-government propaganda from the scene. The same year he established the happening art group called the Gallery of Maniacal Activities, inspired by the Orange Alternative movement in Wrocław.
During the decade Skiba connected three different groups: radical activists representing the anarchistic-ecological orientation, underground bohemians (artists, poets, performers, and musicians), and students of high schools and university in Łódź. He exchanged letters with dozens activists and adherents, took part in mail art network and so-called third circuit; distributed anarchist and dissident papers. This way, without a particular interest in creating the collection, he managed to gather a big private archive of underground activities from the last years of Polish People’s Republic. After the transition Skiba made a career in show-business and lost many of his former underground connections. He even donated parts of his archive to the European Solidarity Centre and the KARTA Centre Foundation. However, his private collection still contains about one thousand objects, many of them digitalized.
The Alternative Society Movement, the anarchist organization co-founded by Krzysztof Skiba in Gdańsk in 1983, was a strongly anti-government group. They criticized militarist, authoritarian, oppressive regime of Polish People’s Republic, and called the public to create a democratic society of free individuals, united in voluntary cooperatives, local organizations, grassroots communities, and labor unions. In their argumentation members of the group followed the classics of anarchist thought, such as Bakunin, Kropotkin, Stirner, Abramowski, and Wróblewski. They also acclaimed the program of the ‘Solidarity’ union from 1981. However, due to a conservative, clerical, and cautious attitude of the ‘Solidarity’ leaders, young anarchists became skeptical toward the union and decided to take measures independently and autonomously.
Having no social endorsement nor base in ‘Solidarity’, anarchists chose to take political advantages from the alternative culture rising popularity among youngsters. Exemplification of this turn were the Hyde Parks, as they called annual events organized in small villages in the countryside, where they invited punk bands, underground artists, poets, and alternative theatres, with the intention to mix cultural activities with the talks about anarchism. They perceived the alternative culture as a safety vent, accepted by the regime to keep the youth under government control and far from the politics. Nonetheless, they tried to saturate the forms of alternative culture with dissent ideas and use it as a mean of activating the youth generation. This concept was implemented in street happenings of Gallery of Maniacal Activities or through mockery in zines such as ‘Przegięcie Pały’, well documented in Krzysztof Skiba's archive.
Krzysztof Skiba, ‘Komisariat naszym domem. Pomarańczowa historia’, Warsaw: Narodowe Centrum Kultury, 2015.
Description of content
The archive consists mostly of photographs and fanzines. The two most important authors of photographs were Krzysztof Miller, deceased professional photo-reporter from Warsaw, and Adrianna Rajch, the former member of the Gallery of Maniacal Activities group who documented street happenings. Among about a hundred of art zines and fanzines, there are 9 issues of ‘Przegięcie Pały’ zine, published by Skiba between 1988-1989. There are a few documentary movies, books released in the second circuit, graffiti templates, and the artefacts used in the happenings. As a curator of the mail art show in 1988 Skiba received a lot of items from 84 countries from both Western and Eastern Bloc, even from Mexico and Japan. Unfortunately, many objects from that show were lost or stolen, while many others Skiba donated to the organizers of similar events.
The topic of the majority of items in the collection is the Gallery of Maniacal Activities and the Orange Alternative movement. The second important subject of the collected objects are the anarchist, pacifist, anti-militarist movements, especially Alternative Society Movement, Intercity Anarchist Federation, and the Freedom and Peace, but also some 'Solidarity' leaflets, brochures, and papers. The large part of the collection is related to oppositional or underground activities in Łódź, Gdańsk, Wrocław, and Warsaw. However there are as well some items from abroad: British radical left press, American underground magazines, booklets, leaflets, and other materials from the Radical Party from Italy.
- film: 0-9
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 0-9
- photos: 100-499
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Stanczyk, Xawery
Skiba, Krzysztof, interview by Stanczyk, Xawery, May 04, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection