Art of Exchange. Józef Robakowski’s Collection. Latent Capital 4


The exhibition of Józef Robakowski’s collection is the fourth instalment in the Latent Capital series, the Profile Foundation’s and Wilanów Palace Museum’s programme of presentations of leading private collections of contemporary and modern art. This year’s exhibition presents a collection created by one of the most outstanding Polish contemporary artists, in which artistic fascinations and preoccupations have translated into collecting passions. A pioneer of neo-avantgarde film, artist, art collector, historian and theoretician, publisher and author of numerous publications, exhibition curator, filmmaker and a ‘one-man institution’, Robakowski’s collection has never been presented in such a wide selection before.

The collection’s origins date back to the 1960s when Robakowski, a student of museum studies and heritage management, caught the archival impulse and started collecting the prewar avant-gardists, in whose works he found references for his own artistic practice. In the following decades the collection centred on contemporary art, notably Conceptualism and avant-garde film, expanding mainly through exchanges with other artists, and standing out today as a unique record of Robakowski’s contacts with the international neo-avantgarde community. In 1978, Robakowski and Małgorzata Potocka, founded the Exchange Gallery, based in a private flat in a Łódź tower block, a venue that soon became one of the major centres of alternative art. Collecting artworks, films and videos, publications, ephemera, and video documentations, the Exchange Gallery holds what until recently was Poland’s sole archive of video art and experimental film. Alluding in their title to the writings of Walter Benjamin, the Latent Capital-series exhibitions are meant to revive the dormant, symbolic, capitals of private art collections and to stress their role in diversifying the image of art conveyed by museum and public collections. The presentation of Józef Robakowski’s collection, where the works of iconic representatives of the prewar avant-garde coexist with flea-market curiosities and students’ artworks mingle with those of contemporary classics, provides a unique opportunity for reflecting on the subversive potential of private collections of art. Presented at the Wilanów Palace Museum’s Orangery, the exhibition includes film screenings centred around three themes: avant-garde film, the Infermental international film magazine (active in the 1980s) and the VAMP video art magazine (initiated in Berlin in 1991), and the archive of the Workshop of the Film Form and performance art. A large selection of paintings, sculptures, objects, drawings and photographs from Józef Robakowski’s collection is on show at the Profile Foundation in Warsaw.