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Łukasz Skąpski, curator: Wojciech Szymanski

Łukasz Skąpski

He makes photography, video films, installations, objects, etc. Throughout the 90-ties light and motion (almost imperceptible changing) were subjects (and materials) of his work. The Devices series, one of his best recognized works, conceptually and symbolically pertains to this area. Perfectly made optical instruments were designed to “facilitate spiritual experience” and should be interpreted as a critic of “new society” values. His latest works move more openly towards social or political issues, expressing his civic concerns. In 2001 he co-founded Azorro Supergroup, which has played a significant role in Polish artistic life being “institutional critic” with quite an ironic view of the art-world practices. Simultanously he made video dealing mainly with social and political matters. He lives and works in Krakow and Szczecin.

Wojciech Szymański

Art historian, lecturer at the Institute of Art History of Jagiellonian University and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. Independent curator and art critic. At the ArtBoom Festival, he was the curator of Florian Dombois’ project (together with Philippe Pirotte in 2011) and the screenwriter of Karol Radziszewski's film entitled MS 101, produced for the previous edition of the festival.
10 m3 of Krakow’s Winter Air

Łukasz Skąpski’s work, 10 m3 of Krakow’s Winter Air, consists of Krakow’s smog – created in the summer in home conditions and locked in an airtight container – which constitutes a serious problem in the city, especially in the winter, and has become an integral element of Krakow’s landscape. This element of the landscape stored by the artist in an aesthetic and economical minimalist metal container, a kind of ready-made referring to the famous 1919 work of Marcel Duchamp that consisted of Paris air closed in a glass container, is not, however, only a problem of an aesthetic nature. The work, devoid of figurative references, touches upon the ethical problem – concerning both Krakow’s authorities and inhabitants – that is the still unresolved issue of pollution of the atmosphere and natural environment in the city and its surroundings.

Łukasz Skąpski’s project created for the fifth edition of the festival, dedicated to the Podgórze district, was inspired by the figure and attitude of Professor Julian Aleksandrowicz, whose book entitled Sumienie ekologiczne [Ecological Conscience] influenced the artist’s views and consciousness many years ago. During World War II, Julian Aleksandrowicz, a Krakow-based haematologist and philosophising precursor of ecological thinking in Poland, spent time in the ghetto created by the Germans in Podgórze, from where he escaped through the sewers, saving his life and becoming a member of the Home Army (AK).

Aleksandrowicz’s war experiences, which included being both a victim and a witness to the Extermination, influenced his holistic manner of thinking about man and his health, both in the anthropological reflection of ‘Doctor Twardy’ and in his medical practice. Ignacy S. Fiut wrote about Aleksandrowicz’s views as follows: ‘Research initiated by Aleksandrowicz led him to a broader reflection of a philosophical-moral nature that was presented in the form of the ecological conscience category. Man’s internal moral censor thought out in this manner was to help him choose between actions, more or less conscious, related to the struggle against moral evil, expressed in human suffering, which comes from his degraded life environment, both natural and social, and in which ecological balance was disturbed. [...] In his philosophical-axiological deliberations, Aleksandrowicz made the following generalisation: health implies good, and good implies truth, whereas illness implies evil, and evil implies falsehood. Doctors deal with health and illness, ethicists – with good and evil, and philosophers – with truth and falsehood. Combined into a single whole, these professions make up specific bioethics of an environmental nature, orienting man towards life in harmony with nature and society by an imperative of the ecological conscience, and telling him that in the relationship of man and the environment, prophylaxis should be given preference over treatment and adaptive values over consumerist values’.
Łukasz Skąpski’s work was therefore both a tribute to Julian Aleksandrowicz and a still relevant ethical challenge to be met by Krakow’s inhabitants, set and left by this doctor-philosopher-anthropologist.

Wojciech Szymański

Picture: Michał Ramus,

10/06/2013 - 21/06/2013

10 m3 of Krakow’s Winter Air

square near the Powstańców Śląskich bridge