Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Mediating Poles: Media Art and Critical Experiments of the Polish Site, 2004-2009
Aleksandra Kaminska
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
York University
Thesis Supervisor
Janine Marchessault
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Communication and Culture
Languages Familiar to Author
English, French, Polish
URL where full thesis can be found
Media Art, Public Art, Site-Specific Art, Poland, Art and Politics, Nation, Europe
Abstract: 200-500 words
This dissertation is a case study of the Polish media artist in the context of post-socialist and European re-imaginations of the Polish site in the five-year period following Poland's acceptance into the European Union, 2004-2009. Though it has been suggested that we have entered a post-national era defined by hyper-mobility and global interconnectivity, it is argued here that there is an ongoing need to think critically about locality, specifically through the concept of the site to ground negotiations of identity, political solidarity, and citizenship. The site is not only defined geographically but exists as the result and embodiment of particular historical, socio-political, and economic conditions. With this as a backdrop, I suggest that critical artistic practices function as experiments in the continued re-imagination and reclamation of the Polish site, and argue that media art is an important tool in processes of self-enfranchisement and contributes to the development of the Polish public, its sense of self, and its transformation into a democratic, plural, heterogeneous society. I propose that media art must be understood as culminating from particular site-specific ecologies, aesthetics, and media archaeologies, so that it is not simply perceived as a homogenous and homogenizing form. Therefore I frame this discussion not only through a theoretical exploration of media art and media theory, but also through a Polish archaeology of experimentation that includes the Constructivists of the 1920s-1930s, the Workshop of the Film Form in the 1970s, the public performances of the 1980s, and the neo-expressionism of the 1990s. I then turn to the work of nine contemporary media artists (Rafal Jakubowicz, Aleksandra Polisiewicz, Hubert Czerepok, Grzegorz Rogala, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Aleksandra Wasilkowska, Dominik Lejman, Izabella Gustowska, and Piotr Wyrzykowski) as examples of critical and experimental media art practice, and suggest that their work can be interpreted as a negotiation of one of three aspects—or ecologies—of the Polish site: the past, democracy and technology. I propose that such artistic practices intervene in these ecologies by enabling the pluralization of history and memory, the emergence of public spaces of appearance and communication, and the demystification of the processes of mediation of life and self. I propose therefore that critical media art practices can be understood as site-specific experiments within the ecologies of site and act as provocations or challenges to current political and economic ideologies and hegemonies. Media art is therefore a potentially political tool uniquely positioned to propose critical perspectives regarding the changes affecting the Polish site during a pivotal and historic time.