Online Screening: From My Window by Józef Robakowski
Józef Robakowski, From My Window 1978 – 1999, 2000. Courtesy of the artist and MOCAK, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow.
We are delighted to present a special online screening of Józef Robakowski’s From My Window.
From My Window was shown as part of Gus Fisher Gallery’s exhibition From our Beautiful Square, which considers dualities of time and interiority by reflecting on a period of global lockdown. We have this work available to view online now in response to our current lockdown. As we have found ourselves yet again in a similar situation, we’ve made this work available to view online from 15 to 29 October.
Shot between 1978 and 1999, From My Window captures episodes of everyday activity that occurred within the 20-storey high-rise complex where Robakowski lived. Originally filmed on 16mm silent film, Robakowski narrates the film from a position of nostalgia that may be seen as a creative interpretation imposed on reality. Belonging to a series of films by the artist that comprise what he terms “my very own cinema” or “personal cinema”, From My Window blurs the boundary between documentary, voyeuristic observation and surveillance with the narrator shifting between different voices and opinions.
Robakowski treated the camera as his confidante, with some of the narrator’s commentary revealing of his own feelings and the socio-political climate of Poland under Communist rule where everyone spied and was spied upon. As the narrator reveals intimate moments of his neighbour’s lives, the act of informants and incriminating desire is touched upon. An ironic reaction to the purported homosexual encounter of his neighbour’s dog is indicative of the artist’s own repressed desires of men and a challenge to the absence of homosexuality in public spheres.
In the film we witness the narrator’s attentiveness to the slightest changes to public space and his musings on the activities of his neighbours. Each and every detail is touched upon with the tiniest of changes or activities sparking a story that may provide an insight into the personal world of the filmmaker as well as the one presented to us in the film. From witty anecdotes about his neighbour’s car racing antics to observations on annual May Day marches, the film importantly surveys Poland’s social and political transitions over two decades from post-war Socialism to the collapse of the Eastern bloc in the 1990s.
Józef Robakowski is one of the most celebrated Polish artists and filmmakers associated with the neo-avant-garde movement of the 1960s and 1970s. After studying art history at Copernikus University in Torun and later attending the state film school in Łódź, he began working as a photographer and filmmaker. He co-founded artist groups such as Zero-61 and Film Form Workshop, and was one of the first generation of Polish artists to work with video.
Courtesy of the artist and MOCAK, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow.