Appliances (photos) / Urządzenia, 2006

Series of panoramic photos, 100x28 cm, depicting people, who made/constructed something for their own use. The constructors demonstrating their constructions and objects in their homes or working environment.

2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Lodz Biennial”, Lodz, Poland

Appliances / Urządzenia, 2006

A film: people present various appliances for everyday use that they have constructed for their own needs.

2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Grey Area”, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland
2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Lodz Biennial of Contemporary Art”, Lodz, Poland

Machines / Maszyny, 2005-2006

A series of photographs of tractors made by farmers for their own use

Maszyny – jazda / Machines - Ride, 2006
A video film. Driving self-made tractors

Maszyny 1 – Kierowcy / Machines 1 - Drivers, 2006
A video film. Owners of self-made tractors praise their vehicles

Maszyny 2 – Konstruktorzy i Gawędziarze / Machines 2 – Constructors and Raconteurs, 2006
A video film. Constructors and owners of hand-made tractors talk abort their machines

In 1982, in the village of Zasań by Myślenice, I witnessed an attempt to start a ploughing engine for potatoes. It was hand-made by a farmer, who used the parts of a SHL motorbike. It had an absurd look: the handgrip was at the back of the motorbike, the rear wheel was missing, instead there was a ploughshare; propulsion was moved to the front on the metal stern wheel, obviously taken from an agricultural machine. I watched the farmer’s struggle with disbelief. I didn’t think it could work. I had seen hand-made engines in villages before, and I thought that they would be worth recording. […]
I didn’t mean it as an ethnological project, or an attempt to document achievements in agrarian technology. I didn’t think of Terrific Photograms or how to incorporate those pictures into art. I simply wanted to immortalize those unbelievable machines in photographs.
As a contribution to the knowledge of agricultural mechanization in Poland, I number the reasons – which the highlanders shared with me – why they prefer engines to horses:
1. A horse must be fed all year through, which requires a lot of money and work (mowing of meadows for hay, everyday feeding, removal of muck). A tractor just stands there, if you need to go somewhere, you pour petrol and off you go.
2. A tractor fitted with the weakest Andoria engine can tow as much load as two horses would.
3. If the tractor is fitted with a mower, you don’t have to mow by hand.
4. You have to walk after the horse uphill, but you drive the tractor.
5. Horses get bitten by gadflies and take fright, keeping them still is troublesome and time-consuming. Moreover, horses attract gadflies that also bite people working in the field.
6. Tractors make work faster, easier, and more effective.
The Bechers’ work is saturated perhaps not with affirmation but with a kind of fascination with the passing world of old buildings and industrial installations that constitute a relic of the period of the expansion of capitalism, which was the foundation of contemporary corporate system. My interest in the individual production of Polish farmers, however, was stimulated by its, as I believe, anti-corporate character. Here I must explain why I use the term “anti-corporate” for actions resulting from resourcefulness and lack of opportunity to purchase small agricultural machines. Specific social, political and economic conditions prevailing in the communist period in the entire Eastern Bloc, including the People’s Republic of Poland, must be taken into consideration.
Bearing in mind that almost all means of production were state-owned and that capital was controlled by the state alone, I assume that real socialism can be treated as state capitalism. State capitalism – in other words, a monopolistic mega-corporation controlling all aspects of social and economic life, and regarding private ownership of land as well as small farmers as competition and political threat. Not without a reason, as newest history has demonstrated. Private ownership of land helped Polish farmers gain independence of the state and was an indirect reason for the collapse of the communist system.
Farm production of agricultural machines was an aspect of that independence, their free will and resourcefulness. It was tangible evidence of a gap in the system and the way it could be used. And, considering the conditions of that time, anti-corporate activity.
All these machines are compiled of parts taken from a variety of vehicles, put together to serve specific purposes. Functional design, or construction rather than design. To what extent were these machines designed and built according to the liking of their constructors, to what extent did taste and resourcefulness in decorating (“designing”) influence their production? As the photographs show, the creators’ attitudes towards design were very different. Some machines have ornamental dummies, some are named, or painted in many colours, etc. The style largely depends on the time of construction. The parts were obtained in scrap yards, which means that the machines were mostly old-fashioned (going 10 to 25 years back). Some tractors, though, have no ornaments, covers, or even mudguards. No comfort, sheer utility. Paradoxically, it is these machines that are exceptional, somehow they are more attractive than the embellished ones. Perhaps that is because they bear no relation to the tastes of their constructors.
Łukasz Skąpski, Seria i typologia jako metoda w sztuce, PhD dissertation, Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, 2005

In the summer of 2005, Skąpski created photographic documentation of some 150 tractors and other machines built by farmers from the Podhale mountain region; the photographs were accompanied by video documentation and an interview in which the machine owners answered various kinds of questions [...].
The home-made farming machines are beautifully ingenious. And then, their hideousness cannot go unnoticed. The material gathered by Skąpski suggests very diverse strategies on the part of the constructors. Some embellished their creations, mounting decorative grilles, painting the machines in various colours etc., while others did nothing of the sort, satisfied with the pure functionality of the construction. Stylistically, however, all shared a certain anachronic character resulting from the simple fact that they were made with junk parts originating from much older machines. The era of self-made machines came to an end in the early 1990s when the PGR state farms were dissolved and sold out their tractor and machine stock making household production unviable.
The series Machines doesn’t belong to the cold world of the Bechers and their Anonymous Sculptures and Typology of Technical Construction.
Marek Wasilewski, The Machines, translated by Marcin Wawrzyńczak, “Piktogram” no. 3 2006

My intention was to present the unparalleled amounts of energy that people can gather in unfavourable circumstances.
Łukasz Skąpski, comment on the exhibition “Maszyny,” Galeria Potocka, Cracow,

The common feature is the hope cherished by people living in various places, struggling with unsatisfactory living conditions. The films show the resourcefulness of Poles in the difficult times of the People’s Republic of Poland.
Magdalena Ujma, note on the exhibition “Łukasz Skąpski. Recent Video Works,” Location One, Nowy Jork,

2005 “Machines,” Galeria ON, Poznan
2006 “Łukasz Skąpski. Recent Video Works,” Location One, Nowy Jork, USA
2006 “Machines”, Galeria Potocka, Cracow
2006 “Machines”, Galeria Rzasy, Zakopane
2006 “Machines”, Fons Welters Gallery, Amsterdam

Łukasz Skąpski, Seria i typologia jako metoda w sztuce, PhD dissertation, Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, 2005

Marek Wasilewski, Maszyny, “Piktogram” no. 3 2006
Artur Czubkowski, Kategorie maszyn, „Czas Kultury“, no. 2, 2006

Untitled / Bez tytułu, 2006

Lancia Kappa
Leksus 330
Mercedes S
Mercedes CL
BMW 7(1)
BMW 7(2)
Porsche Cayenne
Audi 8
Volvo XC90

A series of 10 paintings, car varnish on metal plate, each painted by a professional car workshop, each with a scratch made with a nail, keys, or other sharp objects. Each plate is in a colour of a particular luxury car.

The work has a political hint: Polish citizens are deprived of any actual influence on politics between the elections. The politicians once elected are beyond the social control. The only thing a citizen may do is to scratch their car.

2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Grey Area”, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland

The Mazurka / Mazurek, 2006

Sound installation. Polish national anthem, Dąbrowski’s Mazurka, performed by Łukasz Skąpski on mouth harmonica

The Authors’ Association ZAiKS informed the artist that the copyright for the Polish national anthem had expired, which meant that he could play it in public for free, provided that he performed it himself.
Lukasz Skapski, authorial comment, 2006

2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Grey Area”, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland

Bottom / Żyć, 2006

A video film: Polish highlanders talk in rough terms about politics

2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Grey Area”, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland

The Film, 2006

A film about making a film. An actor talks about a screenplay for a film about artists who are going to rob a bank, record the robbery, and – if it isn’t successful – sell the rights to the film.

2006 “Lukasz Skapski. Recent Video Works,” Location One, New York, USA
2006 Lukasz Skapski, „Grey Area”, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland