TRAFO, center for Contemporary Art in Szczecin: Genesis

TRAFO Centre Opens with Waśko's Genesis

Szczecin,  02.08.2013 – 20.10.2013

TRAFO Trafostacja Sztuki in Szczecin. Photo: © Konrad Wielgoszewski, courtesy of TRAFO Trafostacja Sztuki w Szczecinie

Szczecin's new contemporary art centre opens with a survey of three decades of works of "metaphoric conceptualism" by artist Ryszard Waśko, and the premiere of a musical performance composed by Szymon Brzóska.

The past several years have seen a burgeoning of contemporary art centres across Poland – the Wrocław Contemporary Museum (MNW) in 2011, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK) in 2010 and the launch of the new exhibition space at the ms2 Museum of Art in Łódź in 2008. The capital, Warsaw, has been gearing up for the construction of a new space for its Museum of Modern Art (MSN) for eight years now, as red tape continues to delay plans.

The northwest shore of Poland has at last completed its own centre for contemporary art, located in a renovated, historic transformer facility in the downtown of the city. The museum comes as part of the city's broader plan to establish itself as an artistic and cultural centre for the region. The building features several floors of versatile exhibition space and a main hall that is intended to provide a space for interdisciplinary audio-visual projects, along with a café and bookshop.

The museum's activities will be overseen by new director Constanze Kleiner, who hails from Germany. Kleiner won the 2012 competition for the post, with a background in German and Slavic Studies and experience as a cultural manager in Berlin, serving as Administrative Director in the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin between 2008-2010. Most recently, she curated a show of works by Gregor Schneider at the National Museum in Szczecin. As she remarked upon accepting the job, "unique visions, culture and art draw people of culture, I found all of this in Szczecin and this is why I am here. At Trafostacja I plan to make use of my experiences in Berlin's galleries". She added that the centre "will take advantage of its geographical potential – its location in the Baltic and close distance to Berlin, the cultural capital of this part of Europe".

The team behind the museum adds,

    'TRAFO follows the lead of contemporary artists and actively participates in the process of forming a new, experimental quality of aesthetics. Its activities span hosting exhibitions, education and publishing projects, and international cooperation and artistic exchange.'

The museum has been open for several months, however its official opening is scheduled for the first weekend of August, with the unveiling of the exhibition Ryszard Waśko. Genesis.

The show is a monographic presentation that is the first such broad presentation of the artist's works in Poland or abroad. A graduate of the Łódź Film School and lecturer on art at various academic institutions and Poland and abroad, he also served as programme director for the PS1 centre of the MoMA Museum in New York between 1990-1992.

Ryszard Waśko, "Guernica", oil on canvas, 2008

The survey of Waśko's works in Szczcecin covers a broad array of disciplines including photography, film, video, drawing, oil painting, installation, sculpture, artistic actions and performance. It takes its starting point from the 1970s, when he was a member of  the Film Form Studio / Warsztat Formy Filmowej. It was then that he created his first transmedia photographs, such as Fotografia czterowymiarowa / Four-dimensional Photography, Portret pocięty / Cut-up Portrait and films Zaprzeczenie / Negation and Prosto-Krzywa / Straight-Awry that examine the structure and essence of film and photography as a medium. In 1981 he organised the broadest exhibition of international contemporary art under the heading Construction in Process, featuring works by Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra and Richard Long. The exhibition went on to be shown in Germany (1985), Israel (1995) and Australia (1998).

He spent most of the 1980s in West Berlin, where he performed a metaphysical deconstruction of the Berlin Wall, titled Checkpoint Charlie, which foreshadowed the fall of the Berlin Wall one year later. Throughout the 1990s he organised events and installations, such as the International Museum of Artists – independent sites for artistic exchange with offshoots in New York, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Paris. His recent works, created after 2000, figure as statements on contemporaneity defined as an era of new media. In response to today's imagery overload, he has returned to the traditional technique of oil painting. The TRAFO Trafostacja Sztuki exhibition will feature a selection from the TV Stories series and the latest series of paintings that enter a dialogue with classical masters like Goya or Caravaggio.

The Genesis exhibition is also a part of the 9th edition of inSPIRACJE festival, one of the city's biggest cultural events. It will be accompanied by a bilingual (Polish-English) catalogue with texts by Constanze Kleiner, Gregory Volka and Łucja Waśko-Mandes. The publication will also be shown at Berlin Art Week in September 2013.

The exhibition opening on the 2nd of August is followed by the performance of Szymon Brzóska's Exkurs. A graduate of the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań and the Royal Flemish Conservatory in Antwerp, Brzóska is interested in the synergy between music and other art disciplines. His latest piece "approaches topics focused around sound, its value, temporality as well as the phenomenon of reviving musical palette in space". It will be performed by the Baltic Neopolis Orchestra, with choreography by the talented young dancer and choreographer Kaya Kołodziejczyk. That evening will also feature a musical performance of Volker Bertelmann's Nuit Blanche, performed by the German composer and pianist, who also goes by the alias of Hauschka. The piece is inspired by the works of Waśko, exploring the "evolution of sound", along with its distortions and aberrations.

For more information on TRAFO Trafostacja Sztuki and the opening day programme, see:

Author: Agnieszka Sural. Translated (with edits) by Agnes Monod-Gayraud

TRAFO Trafostacja Sztuki, center for Contemporary Art in Szczecin,

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