Sunday, 30 December 2012

Things I enjoyed this year

the queen is only one

Some things I enjoyed this year, this time without the terror of ordering.



Lana Del Rey, Born To Die (though I wish Lana on the next album stopped her litanies to the bad boyfriends and took to slashing them or summat; and smiled a little)
Gudrun Gut Wildlife (especially T. Turner's cover the Best)
Julia Holter Ekstasis
Pye Corner Audio
Burial EP
Crystal Castles
Carter Tutti Void
Rouge's Foam compilation (incl. eg. Lotic, Mama Testa, Blunt & Copeland)

about which I'm in between:
still trying to convince myself to the new Scott Walker
Jenny Hval, kindof, which I consider an exponent of the so called by me "clitoris kitch"


a lot or Polish Radio Experimental Studio for research
anything, in any form, by Roxy Music, Andrzej Korzyński (especially Possession, and dusting his soundtracks to Andrzej Wajda films)ABBA, Bowie
Philly soul, various dubs & reggaes courtesy of Owen
everything by DAF
Izabela Trojanowska, Kora, Urszula and other Polish punk rock/new wave divas
Harmony & Style Lovers Rock in the UK comp
Kraftwerk Electric Cafe
Krzysztof Komeda
Disco Inferno; This Ain't Chicago UK acid house comp
AR Kane, very much; Grace Jones
Ute Lemper, especially Punishing Kiss & her renditions of Kurt Weill/Brecht & anonymous Berlin interwar cabarets
Goblin & people doing music for Jean Rollins' films.


Most books I've read concerned my topic, that is the cold war, ideologies thereof, communism and postcommunism, eastern Europe, the Thaw, art of the eastern bloc, especially cinema & music, yugoslavian modernism & selfmanagement, popcommunism, consumption in peope's republics, avant-garde vs realism, marxism & modernism. Here a selection.

Marci Shore: two of her books, The Taste of Ashes and collected essays Modernity and its Discontents (only in Polish) concerning the topic of legacy of communism in Europe and so called "Judeo-communism" were my absolute highlights of the year.

reading long essays in LRB & NLR, especially Neal Ascherson, Fredric Jameson, TJ Clark and Tony Wood

Eyal Weizman's The Least of All Possible Evils, for which I interviewed him, full version soon.

Kapuscinski's biography by Artur Domoslawski, first authentically good book on communism & aftermath from a perspective of its flag reporter, from this part of the world.

Jodi Dean, Communist Horizon, which's greatest feature is disenchanting the C-word and making a strong argument for a communist renewal without slipping into the "full communism" idiocy.

Several books from Zero: Daniela Cascella's En Abime, Neil Kulkarni, Architecture of Failure, iCommunism, Art Kettle, Brave New Avantgarde, Folk Opposition, The Sacred and the Profane.

rereading Bruno Jasienski's I Burn Paris in English!

Miron Bialoszewski, Diaries

Stanislaw Czycz, super obscure Polish writer and his experimental legacy.

David Crowley on socialist music, Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius on maps. Piotr Piotrowski on avant-garde.

Looking forward to reading Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain, still looking awry at it.


It was an intense year of watching horror and exploitation films, which I've been avoiding basically most of my life. Since late 2011, I re/watched all of the Argentos, and what was available by: Jean Rollin, Mario Bava or Aldo Lado. The star was Macha Meril and her absolutely astounding performance in Night Train Murders. Lado's Who saw her die, an inspiration to Roeg's Don't Look Now, will remain a somewhat unexpected favorite. I also came back to the cheesy soft porn, enjoying early Emmanuelles and Story of O. similarly with the French neobaroque, with the stress on Jean Jacques Beneix. I also finally watched: Downfall, which I hated, and several Hammer classics, which I loved, especially The Quatermass series. I also spent fair amount of time watching the East German classics form DEFA, from which Konrad Wolf (Solo Sunny, Sunseekers, Divided Heaven, I was 19), The Rabbit is Me and Murderers are Among Us were the best. Trier's Melancholia. A lot of the BFI Flipside, with, finally, Skolimowski's The Deep End as the greatest. I watched and wrote on Christoph Schlingensief. Fassbinder's The Year of 13 Moons was probably the best film I saw this year, category-less.

Among the newbies:

The Young Adult, first truthful film about people living in crap modern towns & thirtysomething single women.
Barbara, quasi-successful take on living in the late GDR
The Consequences, first Polish film on the war-time pogroms on Jews...
also Margaret by Kenneth Lonergan was excellent.

ART (note: some of that may be in, heaven forbid, eastern Europe!)

exhibitions: William Klein and Daido Mariyama in Tate Modern, Tate's perm. collection, esp surrealism & John Heartfield, Sounding the Body Electric in Lódź Museum of Art, astonishing Art Everywhere on the, on the surface, Warsaw's fine arts academy until the 1940, in practice, a great survey on Polish modernism & art deco; Bratislava's National Gallery show on socialist realism; Unfinished Modernisations in Maribor & Belgrade; right wing at in Warsaw MOMA; Harun Farocki in Warsaw CCA, Kaliningrad scene in the same gallery; Patrick Keiller & Picasso's legacy show & in general, random visits in Tate Britain for their permanent modern expositions, especially Vorticists; Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past in Estorick Collection, London; Calvert 22's NSK & Sana Iveković, Soviet Modernism in Vienna's AzW; Ballgowns in V&A.

going to Venice Architecture Biennale for the first time & enjoing especially Kasia Krakowiak's installation.

seeing Laibach live for the first time and in Tate's Turbine Hall, despite giving them a scathing review, was a powerful experience.

disco party at Unsound in Cracow in the old ostalgic hotel Forum, which looked like straight from The Shining: nevermind the music, mind the Eyes Wide Shut feeling.

I feel lucky to have travelled to: Belgrade (and then to Ljubljana on a night train), Amsterdam twice, Rotterdam for its "madness of the new"; Bruxelles for the first time and seeing its Musee de Beaux Arts from Auden's poem, travelling with my beloved to Venice and Naples, and visiting finally its Archeological Museum and Museo di Capodimonte; I was shocked/seduced by Naples and its brusque haggardness, piles of trash and communist symbols sprayed on the walls more than with anything I saw this year. Also, doing the Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest KK of Austria & Hungary tour could've easily turned me into one of those horrific 'Mitteleuropa' nostalgic bores, but luckily, it didn't!

Separate category - Things I still haven't heard a single time, seen or read:

Frank Ocean, Holy Motors, Berberian Sound Studio, new Bond, Azealia Banks, any new Rihanna, Taylor Swift, sea-punk & gifwave (ok, by now I saw some), huge part of the Wire's top 50 (shame, shame), Tabu, Impostor, Two Years at the Sea, Patience by Sebald, Marx's Capital (but I've read Proust and Man Without Qualities and whole Mann & Dostoyevsky!).

Things that I thought were rubbish: The Master, the new Batman, most of the new sleepy music popular in the music press & festivals, the new Badiou 'for the militants', Shame (unlike Hunger), the New Inquiry, blog male bonding, Geoff Dyer's Zona, The new Stedelijk Museum (or rather the unimpressive effect after the 9 years and the money they spent on it), food in the UK, general up-tightness, music festivals, UK columnists, UK press, debates about 'bashing the rich' with the privileged posing as 'victims', and then privileged ppl on the left asking for stopping the debating of the privilege on the left, needless to say, all of the contemporary politics and bashing of the leftwing voices, the Polish misery & homogenisation. The shit we're in.

this year I was regularly jobbed in UK magazines and national broadsheets, which, considering my nationality & short stay in Britain, I dare to call a success.

I also still haven't finished my book, which is the main goal for the beginning of the 2013.

oh, and I've set up a tumblr, out of sheer contempt for being a net-technical idiot.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.