After the introduction of the Martial Law in Poland in 1981, the communist party completely lost its moral legitimacy. Nobody believed in communist ideology anymore. On the other hand, because of the economic crisis of the late 70’s and early 80’s and events that resulted from it – like the functional collapse of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance –, it was difficult to imagine western consumption capitalism to ever be introduced in the country. It was difficult to buy toilet paper and people had to queue to buy sugar. That led to the creation of an ideological vacuum, that was eventually filled with an amalgam of ideas, ranging from Eastern spiritual systems, Catholic church and a distorted view of modernisation that came with the introduction of the new media – VHS, satellite TV and personal computers.
Janek Simon had been researching this period in Poland for some time, focusing on the introduction of personal computers into everyday life and Red New Age – the appropriation of Eastern spirituality in communist Poland. During his stay in Bucharest he will try to map similarities and differences in that aspects of history between Poland and Romania.
For his talk, he will present the findings of this research, as well as give an overview of his practice catalyzed by curiosity and travels.
Janek Simon (born 1977) is a conceptual artist and an occasional curator based in Warsaw. His main source of inspiration is curiosity. On a more concrete level he is inspired by travel, history of science and political ideas, and the practice and ethics of the DIY culture, always filtering the theories through his personal experience though. In recent years he developed a body of work investigating notions of distance and difference between places, working on projects that try to remap semi-peripherial position of Eastern Europe through geographical experiments. His works was shown, among others, at Manifesta 7, Liverpool Biennale, Prague Biennale, and numerous solo shows in major public art institutions in Poland and elsewhere (Arnolfini Bristol, Casino Luxembourg, Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw and others).