Rebel: A Reconstruction. Curatorial

Agnieszka Wolny-Hamkało

Punk is pastiche and deconstruction, a look at the insides of things. Childish pleasure in smashing things up. Challenging established conventions, because hierarchies are formed by exclusion, and punk proclaims a community – a community of rebellion and anarchy. Punk is political. Punk is against all systems. Institutions – including the institution of art – are suspicious. Before it is degraded, before bureaucracy takes it over, punk will make a caricature of it, punk will organize a picket line, punk will x-ray it. Despite the slogan “no future”, the decadence of punk is full of a kind of naïve joy.  It crosses boundaries – it plays with the sacred and profane –  it uses its tools to break into the sphere of the sacred. It’s constant searching, vigilance, an experiment, a spontaneous happening. Punk is a juxtaposition of varied esthetics and ideals, a nonstop discourse with taste, with bourgeois customs and viewpoints, with what we commonly see as “pretty” and “valuable”. It’s a change in perspective. It’s what’s irrational and unexpected. Punk is full of the energy of revolution. It restores proportion. It restores life to places where pathos and distance had made contact and communication impossible. Punk is always open, an invitation to play, to come out of confinement. It’s freedom.

Punk is also the esthetic of DIY, cyberpunk, adhocism, eco-art and trash-art. As a movement in art it has often displayed unrestrained, almost uncontrolled expression. Artists who take these approaches are happy to use simple means – whatever they have at hand – to put together spontaneous artefacts or performance art actions.  Stephan Groß’s video  “Letsworktogether” and Karolina Spyrka’s “The Most Wonderful Woman That I Know” show that these are still attractive and viable approaches.  The basis of works like these is frequently humor and deconstruction – tools for dismantling existing structures.

Pastiche and exaggeration put pathos in a spotlight and debunk conventions, as we see in Alexander Pawlik’s amusing film “The Nature of Hell” [Natura piekła], made in the style of an old-school educational-TV document,  or Helmut Munz’s absurdist “The Construction of Anstalt 3000″, which flirts with the esthetics of pioneering cyberworld architechture, plays with spoiled narrative and the concept of chaos. Munz deliberately disrupts the integrality of his work,  disorients the viewer, builds up the illusion of a story and introduces heroes that keep dying and reappearing with new forms and identities.

Punk’s political potential is featured in the films “Take Me to the Greek” by Holly McLean and Tom Maryniak and “Namedropping” by Antje Seeger. The former is a satire of an embarrassingly simplistic and thought-free news report about the crisis in Greece; the latter shows the artist pasting her name on the wall alongside the names of artists representing the official art world in public space, creating her own private canon.  Juha Maeki-Jussila’s “Suddenly, Last Summer” and Seoungho Cho’s “Listed” are technically sophisticated films, in contrast to trashy punk esthetics, but they defy viewers’ perceptual habits by combining images and sounds from disparate contexts to form surprisingly beautiful hybrids.

Each of the films chosen for this set in some way relates to  the principles of punk, understood in the broad sense as a style in art and/or an attitude toward reality,  and at the same time harks back to the countercultural roots of the WRO Biennale – showing yet again that the counterculture still lives.