Saturday, 19 April 2014

Scene & Herd

Righto, time to launch the promotional campaign for Poor But Sexy, now after the book hit the stores just over two weeks ago, as you have to do these days! The launch at Calvert 22 gallery took place on April 9th DREAMING THE LOST COLLECTIVE (here the link to the event and some photos), but there's several other events in the pipeline, conveniently each focusing on different aspects of the book, not to make people bored and to showcase all five short books compressed into one: one on current politics of the former East, one on pop culture generated out of the late cold war paranoia in late 70s/early 80s, then one on eastern European mysticism, then one on contemporary art meets Socialist Realism and finally, one on the different strategies of modernity and consumption in the Soviet Bloc and in the West.

There has been and there are forthcoming articles in the press, linked to the book.

In the Wire #362, there has been my Epiphany, in the prestigious series where authors are revealing music that influenced them somehow. I wrote on Franz Schubert and the influence of his song cycles such as Schone Mullerin on my later fixation with effeminate men in synthpop and Neue Deutsche Welle.

At the Quietus, book excerpt focusing o the popfuturism in Polish pop-culture - how we invented capitalism, that wasn't there (and how we predicted things to come). Two posts ago on this blog I made an appendix to this fragment.

Apart from that, I wrote recently for the Guardian about women's rights in Ukraine and elsewhere in East Europe

Icon monthly had me recently twice on the specificity of Soviet and Polish graphic design, on Soviet film posters in GRAD Russian Gallery, London, and Henryk Tomaszewski's retrospective in Warsaw in the forthcoming, June issue.

I'm also to have two pieces, on Vera Chytilova's Daisies and two para-long thingy for the Marguerite Duras Centenary in the forthcoming, #32 issue of Five Dials magazine, edited by the one and only, wonderful writer Joanna Walsh. it will also include a great short story by Juliet Jacques. Stay tuned for this one!

Here are upcoming events:

22.04 Cafe Oto, London: Dancing across the Iron Curtain, w/ Esther Leslie and Chris Bohn

2.05 KUAD Gallery, Istanbul,Turkey - part of the Turkish-Polish Year, I'll be speaking at the opening of the exhibition of Polish art since the 90s, my abstract here

14.05 Manchester, UK, Atelier

16.05 London, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies 

Discussion around themes of What’s the East and the West? How do we perceive the East and its transformations? What’s behind post-1989 developments?

4.06 Warsaw, Poland:  Museum of Modern Art

21.06 Berlin, Germany: Pro Qm Bookshop (with guests)

15.08 Wales, Green Man Festival,  Q & A with Alex Niven (of Folk Opposition and Definitelky Maybe book for 33 1/3 series fame)

Forthcoming in September: Pages of Hackney, London and Housmans Radical Booksellers, London.

Last but not least, very happy for this pretty uncanny celebrity appreciation, more of that please, some accolade from Martin Gore or David Bowie, for example?

that's all for now, folks!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Neo-New Romantic heroes SUPER GIRL & ROMANTIC BOYS touring the UK

Please, come to the concerts of one of my favorite Polish bands in the UK. here are the April dates:

18.04 Brighton @ Cowley Club
19.04 Bristol @ Polish Club
20.04 Plymouth @ Tiki Bar
23.04 Edinburgh @ Banchee Labirynth
25.04 London @ T Chances

Polish neo punk-synth-goth (?) New Wave band Super Girl & Romantic Boys were pioneers of the synth wave revival. The band formed in 1998, never released their album and disbanded in 2006. Last year it was finally released by Antena Krzyku records.

Listen to them on their myspace

I wrote on them last January in an Electronic Beats column:

Super Girl & Romantic Boys can boldly claim to be the most unlucky Polish group of the last decade or more. Only last year did they finally release material which had been recording in late nineties/early 2000s, which had been shelved due to an unfair contract. They formed in 1998 after a few years of participating in various punks squats and groups around Poland. The leader and composer Kostek Usenko founded his first band, The Leszczers, at the age of eleven. Coming from an interesting three-quarters Russian background, but growing up in Poland, he always kept one leg in a different country, and is familiar with punk scenes of both Leningrad and Warsaw. Yet the music of SGRB, though showing the influences of Neue Deutsche Welle, anglophone synthpop and cold wave, is definitely Polish in spirit. Their sound is chiefly inspired by the heroes of Polish eighties electronic music—Marek Bilinski, Romuald Lipko, or Andrzej Korzynski—recently popular due to Finders Keepers re-releases.
While decidedly electronic in sound, their lyrics are less arch or obscure than the synthpop norm—usually a gritty, daily realism, more suitable for punk/post-punk bands like Magazine or even Prefab Sprout or the Smiths, full of stories about broken relationships or psychogeographic drifting through a misty, grey Warsaw. There’s also a good deal of social critique of the still-fresh-to-capitalism Polish society: aspirational middle classes wanting only new kitchen devices or the propagandistic manipulations of the Polish right wing authorities over historical events. While cold wave/synthpop bands are nearly universally a male affair, where female members could be counted on one hand, SGRB have a gender and emotional balance—vocalist Ewik has equally strong presence as Kostek."

See you at the gigs!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Polish 80s pop-futurism - an appendix to the Quietus excerpt

In addition to the excerpt published today at the eminent Quietus, I thought it would be nice to publish some stuff that didn't fit to tQ's page and is fun to watch and vitally enriches the context written out in that fragment.

So here's more tracks from Kontrola W - industrial New Wave mavericks:



The End

Stay in Motion

Izabela T. - the queen

Song of the Brick - mock-Socialist realism, after which Iza had trouble in the Party

pretending a Newton-sque businesswoman with nowhere to go to work, posing by the socialist skyscrapers

one of her memorable Opole song festival performances

A curio - pre-80s, interwar cabaret style TV performance, pay attentio to the low cost but maximum effect foil decoration

electro pop extravaganza, I'm Your Sin

Urszula, who specialised in musing on outer (even if only mental) space and various kinds of surrealism, eg. that she's going crazy from a shopping frenzy...(in 80s? Poland no way!)

Seasonal Shopping Frenzy

Great Flight

"Loose-blues, and holes in the sky"

Raspberry King

Kora & Maanam - goth- New Romantics; first Polish band ever played on MTV

"It Gets Darker", directed by Zbigniew Rybczynski (Polish avant-garde filmmaker, laureate of an Oscar for animated film, Tango in 1980), teh first Polish song played on MTV.

Lipstick on the glass (!!)


Kapitan Nemo - king of futuristic synthpop

Your Lorelei

Electronic Civilisation