The group, Krzysztofjastrubczakłukaszkaczmarek, consists of Łukasz Jastrubczak (b.1984) and Krzysztof Kaczmarek (b.1983). Both artists mostly use video in their practice, seldom employing photography, which serves them primarily to document the extraordinary phenomena of the life of the group. Although the duo operates on the margins of each artist’s solo careers, they have managed to create so many works that it recently became possible to mount a retrospective.
The group was founded in 2010. Back then, Łukasz was living in Kraków, doing roughly the same he’s doing today while living in Szczecin, aside from having a son and teaching at the Academy. In those days, Krzysiek was studying in Vienna, also doing what he’s doing now, although today he’s more serious and he’s expecting the birth of his daughter. He has also been living in Warsaw for a few years now. While their individual careers are well known to me, I do not remember the circumstances of the group’s foundation. I asked Łukasz and Krzysiek about it, but they cannot remember either.
During the Vienna period, the Academy served as a limitless source of equipment, which Krzysiek could freely use, making his own movies. He used to tell stories about how he borrowed cameras and lamps in excess of any normally accepted standards. I liked those stories, especially because they were hiding a kind of historical justice and an attempt to settle an old score for the economic differences between our countries. Today, I might have looked at it differently. Before Krzysiek went to Vienna he earned degrees at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and he co-led the famous Artpol gallery, where he first met Łukasz.
The first major work together was the movie “Buchbuch”. It was shot entirely in Łukasz’s house and garden in Kraków. The film, recorded on VHS tape, is sort of an imprecise reconstruction of the past, a fantasy about what kind of artists my colleagues would have been if they were born 20 years earlier.
In 2011, the artists decided to participate in the Polish Film Festival in Iceland. This whole festival thing was actually a pretext for Krzysiek to start making his own movie with money from the Polish Institute of Cinematography. While there, they rented a caravan and toured the entire island, putting on shows in cultural centers and small theaters. In addition to numerous individual works, which were created during their stay in Iceland, their group portfolio was enriched with a movie called “Tókatækni”. This video, made in 1988, documents an Icelandic grocery store. Since the artists were 5 and 4 years old that year, it is easy to guess, that it wasn’t their film. In any case, they personally stole a CD from an exhibition dedicated to the history of one of Iceland’s small towns. The title of the film relates to the description on that CD’s cover. Tókatækni is an Icelandic tractor manufacturer. Anyhow, it is hard to believe that someone is producing tractors on this modestly inhabited island.
In Iceland, the artists met a girl who was planning to make an artistic happening in London. She managed to get money for the project in the amount of 25,000 EUR. One of the conditions for receiving the money was to invite participants of varied gender and origin. Łukasz and Krzysiek were invited to participate in the action and to document it. While appearing in goofy costumes, they documented the happening. Parts of the documentation were used as their own video works. This is how the films ”Matthew & Barney”, “Matthew & Barney II” and “Matthew & Barney III” were made.
Later on, the group would meet up with each other again and again. Some minor works and ideas arose. Their last meeting took place on January 4th in Gniezno, a city located halfway between Warsaw and Szczecin. They spent 24 hours there, talking and thinking about the exhibition at my gallery and the future of the group. According to Łukasz, the pretext for the opening was the inauguration of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the avant-garde in Poland. From the few short conversations we had in recent weeks, I could presume that during their stay in this historic city they were watching TV in their hotel room. But it could have been different too.