Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Tomasz Załuski [Biography]
The Alternative Official? KwieKulik’s Studio of Activities, Documentation and Propagation as a State Financed Performative Archive under Real Socialism


Pracownia Działań Dokumentacji i Upowszechninia (PDDiU) – Studio of Activities, Documentation and Propagation was an authored, private, alternative artist gallery formed and run by the KwieKulik duo in the 1970s and 1980s in socialist Poland. It became – and is widely known today as – an exercise in artistic self-organization, a performative archive working beyond established institutional systems. However, it was not meant to be such an unofficial place. What KwieKulik wanted to create was an official art-and-research institution that would work under the aegis – or be part of – a state cultural institution. Therefore, I would like to shift my focus from the actual workings of PDDiU, as one of the authored unofficial neo-avant-garde galleries, to the project, program, and potential of PDDiU as a state-financed unit within an official art institution. I want to show its general concept as an active or performative archive which was to organize and produce processual artistic activities, document them, built a visual and textual database, do research on ephemeral art and publish its findings in the form of books and educational movies. Going beyond the opposition of “official” versus “unofficial,” I will try to interpret the generative concept of PDDiU as an active or performative archive in terms of the “alternative official.” I will argue that behind this concept was an attempt to create a modernized art institution, which needs to be analyzed not only within the context of new artistic tendencies but also within the context of structural changes of the official art system in the 1970s socialist Poland. I will also reflect on the reasons why KwieKulik could not find support for their initiative at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. Finally, I will show the artists’ failed attempts to cooperate with the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle and donate their private archive to this official institution which was established to document contemporary art and propagate information about it. The “odyssey” of PDDiU, from the concept of alternative official active archive unit, through the reality of a private unofficial artist-run archive, to making the archive part of an official institution, will be finished only now, as KwieKulik’s archive is in the process of being transferred to Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Even as part of the museum collection, the archive will regain its generative potential and certain “private,” “alternative” or at least “authored” dimension as Zofia Kulik will be able to use its elements to produce new works.