• Poetry & Performance / The Eastern European Perspective
    22 December 2017 − 10 March 2018

    Nová synagóga, Žilina, Slovakia Poetry & Performance / The Eastern European Perspective 22/12/17 –  10/03/18 Loans by Kontakt: Vlado Martek: Ciklus Soneti / Sonnet Cycle, 1978-79 Raša Todosijević: Znak / Sign, 1971; Skulptura / Sculpture, 1971; Was ist Kunst, Patricia Hennings? / What is Art, Patricia Hennings?, 1976; Was ist Kunst, Marinela Koželj? / What is Art, Marinela Koželj?, 1978 Tamás St. Auby: Kentaur / Centaur, 1973-1975/ 2009 Curators: Sabine Hänsgen, Tomáš Glanc, Daniel Grúň Nová synagóga in Žilina presents the exhibition Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective curated by Tomáš Glanc, Daniel Grúň and Sabine Hänsgen. The exhibition brings together more than forty artists, poets and creative groups from the countries of the former Eastern Europe as well as contemporary artistic positions. The exhibition will be opened on December 22nd from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. by a series of several performances and will run until March 10th 2018. In the second half of the twentieth century, poets and artists in particular took up the challenge of reflecting on and investigating the instrumentalization of language for communicative and political-ideological purposes. They did so by drawing attention to the “made-ness” of language, its material and medial dimension, and by creating performative situations for themselves and their audiences within which possibilities of verbal expression could be tested and acted out. In Eastern Europe, poetry and performance played a significant role in the unofficial or partially tolerated cultural scene. The writing practice of samizdat and its relation to the devices of concrete and visual poetry have been treated and presented in a number of previous projects. Until now however, less consideration has been given to the circumstances of performance. In addition to the typescript literature of samizdat, subcultural milieus attached particular importance to the oral recitation of poems, exhibitions, and poetry actions. The interrelation between text and situation in poetic acts functioned as a trigger for performances and happenings. The exhibition presents authors from subcultures in socialist states along with contemporary positions that continue the legacy of combining poetry and performance. It shows the efforts of poets and artists to break free from controlled language and normative communicative now and then. Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective thus confronts the current social challenges in the post-socialist countries through the prism of language and ideology and looks back at their points of departure. Artists: Milan Adamčiak, Pavel Arsenev, Babi Badalov, Bosch+Bosch (Attila Csernik, Slavko Matković, László Szalma), Collective Actions Group, Ľubomír Ďurček, Else Gabriel / Via Lewandowsky, Rimma Gerlovina, Tomislav Gotovac, Group of Six Artists, Bohumila Grögerová / Josef Hiršal, Gino Hahnemann, Václav Havel, Jörg Herold, Semyon Khanin (Orbita), Kinship Moho (Zuzana Jasenková, Kristína Országhová, Magdaléna Scheryová), Dávid Koronczi, Katalin Ladik, Yuri Leiderman / Andrey Silvestrov, Vlado Martek, Andrei Monastyrski, Monogramista T.D, Ladislav Novák, Pavel Novotný, NSRD (Hardijs Lediņš, Juris Boiko, Imants Žodžiks), OHO Group (Nuša & Srečo Dragan, Naško Križnar), Boris Ondreička, Orange Alternative, Roman Osminkin, Ewa Partum, Bogdanka Poznanović, Dmitri Prigov, Lev Rubinstein, Nóra Ružičková / Marianna Mlynárčiková, Mladen Stilinović, Gabriele Stötzer, Tamás Szentjóby, Bálint Szombathy, Raša Todosijević, Jaromír Typlt, Jiří Valoch. Nová synagóga, Žilina, Slovakia J. M. Hurbana 220/11, 010 01 Wednesday — Sunday, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m. free entry (voluntary)


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Stanisław Dróżdż

Stanisław Dróżdż’s semantic and visual poems resemble the experimentation of the avant-garde, embodying a laboratory of language, signs and images. His early concrete texts from the 1960s, such as Forgetting [Zapominanie], might be associated with transrational-constructivist designs by Rodchenko and Stepanova, such as Abstract Verses or Toft from 1919, and especially with El Lissitzky’s famous 1929 cover for the magazine Journalist. Samples of similar constellations of words, “notion-shapes,” “ideo-shapes,” or “ideo-forms” (pojęciokształty, to use Dróżdż’s term), could also be found in Apollinaire’s “ideograms,” in the work of Robert Walser and of Stefan Themerson, and in semantic poetry as Themerson defined it in 1944. Stanisław Dróżdż elaborated his own approach to the “reality of the language” by expanding it into its material artistic form, from the two-dimensional piece of paper to the three-dimensional space, resulting in concrete poems such as his most famous Between [Między], realized at Foksal Gallery in Warsaw in 1977. This installation of painted words evenly appropriated the entire gallery space by repeating the word “between” on every wall, confronting the viewer with the material substance of the concrete poem, the meaning of the word as such, and the literal experience of standing between the words. This work was realized in collaboration with Zbigniew Gostomski (who designed the font and letters) and is one of the most systematic of Dróżdż’s realizations, being based on the clear mathematical rule of diagonally repeated words—“the rule according to which I was writing the text,” the artist explained. Dróżdż was himself an expert in linguistics, both as a theorist and as a practitioner. He studied Polish philology in Wrocław and also authored the book Poezja konkretna [Concrete Poetry], which was published in 1979 and consisted of documentation and texts from the period between 1967 and 1977. His practice was compared to that of Vaclav Havel and Hamilton Finlay (with whom he was familiar), as well as to that of the Art & Language circle and the conceptualism of Joseph Kosuth, which nowadays seems to be very different from Dróżdż’s approach. Nevertheless, later years also saw both of them work with words in space, displaying them in seemingly similar ways. Kosuth usually displays longer sequences and informing/disinforming sentences, while Dróżdż usually worked with one word or very few words only. Like many conceptual authors, Dróżdż confronted the semantic and optical layers of written signs but did not try to redefine the artwork as such. Similarly to the Polish conceptual artist Jarosław Kozłowski, Dróżdż was deeply inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept of language identity, as well as by linguistics and game theory. These ideas led him to produce his sequences of numbers and numerical combinations in the Numerical Texts series of the 1970s, and are likewise behind his dice and game in the 2003 Venice Biennale project Alea iacta est. Since Wittgenstein defined language as the bounds of cognition, Dróżdż wanted to test it in its possible shapes and functions in space, and in a similar vein: he wanted to analyze its structure, “language’s reality.” His visual book / project Klepsydra [Hourglass] from 1969 to 1990 is a very good example of an attempt to capture the structure of time-space as such, of the time-space of language, and of signs—using existential and differently shaped words such as “is,” “was,” and “will be” to take on the tautological form of the hour-glass. As Dróżdż stated, the way in which he construed the concrete works “was based on permutation: in some texts/poems, the semantic aspect was dominant; in others, the visual. “I take the pen and scratch on the piece of paper—this is how my works emerge. Consciously and in the subconscious. This process is parallel, and the two layers overlap each other.” This, then, is how Dróżdż’s pojęciokształty (ideo-shapes) found their visual embodiment.



1939, Sławków / PL – 2009, Wrocław / PL

Stanisław Dróżdż was member of the Union of Polish Artists. His poems have been published in numerous magazines and exhibition catalogues in Poland and abroad. Dróżdż graduated from the Technikum Ekonomiczne in Wrocław (Poland). From 1959 to 1964 he studied Polish Philology at the University of Wrocław. He was awarded with the MA diploma on the basis of his published book "Poezja konkrentna” (“Concrete poetry”) in 1979. The book contained works, biographies and bibliographies of Polish authors of concrete poetry. Since Dróżdż´s concrete poetry requires to be shown in space, he started collaborating with national and international museums and galleries in 1974. He was also active animating the concrete movement in Poland as well as organizing numerous theoretical symposiums focusing on concrete poetry.

Solo Exhibitions (selection):

2010 “Anthological“, Studio d´Arte Contemporanea Pino Casagrande, Rome, Italy

2009 “Beginningend“, CSW Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland

2008 “Concrete Poetry Spaces“, Gallery Appendix2, Warsaw, Poland

2007 “Clepsydra“, Ogród Saski, Lublin, Poland

2006 “Stanisław Dróżdż, Dominik Lejman: Annex for exhibition ‘The Form Is Emptiness - Emptiness Is the Form’“, Gallery Nova, Krakow, Poland

2005 “i“ (fragmentary). Figures of Meaning. Concrete Poetry“, Gallery Sektor I, Górnośląskie Centrum Kultury, Katowice, Poland

2004 “Between 1977-2004“, Studio d’Arte Contemporanea Pino Casagrande, Rome, Italy

2003 "The Dice Has Been Cast", Polish Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

2002 “Concrete Poetry“, Galeria Foksal, Warsaw, Poland

Group Exhibitions (Selection):

2011 “Museum of Parallel Narratives. In the framework of L’Internationale“, MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2010 “Over and Over Again“, Wyspa Institute of Art, Danzig, Germany

2009 “A Collection. Twenty years of the Starmach Gallery“, National Museum Krakow, Krakow, Poland

2008 “The Impossible Collection“, Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk, Poland

2007 “Words – Forms – Meditations“, BWA Lublin, Lublin, Poland

2006 “The Form Is Emptiness - Emptiness Is the Form“, Sektor I, Catowice, Poland

2005 “Always a little further”, 51th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

2004 “Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form 1940s-70s“, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA; Miami Art Museum, Miami, USA

2003 “Europa Konkret“, Altana Galerie der Technischen Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Dawidek-Gryglicka, Małgorzata, ed. 2012. Odprysk poezji = A piece of poetry : Stanisław Dróżdż mówi = Conversations with Stanisław Dróżdż. Kraków et al.: Korporacja Ha!art.

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