Art Is Power!

Art Is Power!, 1985

video, 10 min

Using found video footage of Red Army soldiers marching in Moscow, Robakowski tries to debunk the reality of the Soviet Union that is repeatedly presented to a Polish audience. Music from the German-speaking Slovenian avant-garde rock-band Laibach is played over the shots, an irony pointed out by the artist who stated that “Only a Pole could invent the use of German language in the context of the urban landscape of Moscow, with its military parades and marching soldiers”. As expressed in its title, Art is Power! is a manifesto of art‘s power to critique; here, one of the institutional powers that shaped the Polish collective consciousness is the artist‘s main target.

About Fingers

About Fingers, 1982

video, 5 min

In 1981, martial law was imposed in Poland and Robakowski not only lost his teaching position at the Łódź Film School, but was no longer allowed to show his work. As Patricia Grzonka has pointed out, “on the one hand, About Fingers can be interpreted as a metaphor of the political situation of the era and a manifesto of the artist‘s withdrawal at a time of his exclusion from public life. On the other, however, against the backdrop of Robakowski’s oeuvre, the film also seems to be a document of self-observation - a ‘personal video’, that shows the author’s private and subjective approach, and can be considered a statement of a consciously apolitical attitude, avoiding the expression of any views on current events as a matter of principle.”

I'm Going

I'm Going, 1973

video, 35 mm, 5 min

Z mojego okna (From My Window)

Z mojego okna (From My Window), 2000

video transferred from 16 mm, 19 min

The work is made up of numerous videos that recorded daily life over a 20-year span of time from the artist’s own window in the city of Łódź in Poland. The project was completed in 1999 due to the rebuilding of a hotel that blocked the former view of the square. Robakowski’s warm and humorous voice-over accompanies the video, in which he discusses the people appearing in the shots, their habits, the changes in their lives, and the gradual changes of the city itself. At first glimpse, little changes, but in fact, larger transformations of society’s ideological values come to light: “I have been working on this film since 1978, when I started living in a flat situated in the so-called Manhattan center of Łódź. From time to time I would look out of my kitchen window with a film or video camera onto a huge square which became the hero of my ‘notebook’. I kept filming all the changes and various social and political events taking place in this square. Today twenty years have passed since I shot the first frames of that film. The time accumulated in the film became the protagonist of my venture. In 1998, the city authorities decided to build a foreign hotel in our beautiful square. Its construction is currently underway. Now the view from my window encompasses only a fragment of the hotel wall. In 1999, I decided to end those film chronicles [...]“