The following article was published in N-SPHERE September 2010 issue.


Polish performance group SUKA OFF have been producing since the early ’90s an impressive body of work, ranging from video and photography to action and installation, broaching themes such as the body, sexuality and post–humanism. We sat down to discuss with leader Piotr Wegrzynski and Sylvia Lajbig about their artistic practice and the result was nothing short of an exciting exchange of ideas.

You first formed in Poland, in 1995. How would you describe the cultural and subcultural environment that helped shape SUKA OFF?

P: The main starting point for us was the “off” theatre, which was the second generation of independent theatre in Poland. Perhaps that’s why in Poland we are still categorized as “theatre”, although I don’t like this term. At the same time I participated and interacted on a daily basis with various subcultures (skinheads, punks), I tried to observe how the mainstream and the independent culture influence each other. I have always been more interested in the costumes and in playing with conventions rather than in ideology and politics. Very soon each of these subcultures proved to be very limited. They very often suppressed my needs of expressing myself through images. With time we found the body-mod and fetish scene, which have opened the widest field for our experiments.

What artists or theorists have influenced your work throughout the years?

P: Theorists without practitioners wouldn’t have anything to write about. It’s like reading a car manual written by someone who has never ridden a car. Of course that happens too. ;) I have always listened to the practitioners, because they don’t have time for superfluous analysis. Their deductions are simple and practical. Because of my artistic education (I studied painting) I have been interested in artists joining different media and using images instead of words. Jozef Szajna was my main inspiration. Other important for me artists are Dariusz Gorczyca, Gunter Brus, Franko B, Joe Coleman, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Matthew Barney and many photographers and film directors. I don’t have one favorite.

Since usually SUKA OFF produces videos and performances, would you claim that this choice of media was a conscious decision to explore the transformative potential of these specific art forms?

P: We live in the times of image information, so you could as well ask me if I intentionally used electricity or running water. The media I’m using are part of the universal language, the modern form of communication. I’m aware of the impact of media on society. I have noticed certain disability to understand the meanings in the spate of information.
S: The choice of media very often depends on the images we want to create. In live performances many things are impossible. Especially whenever we want to show the process of metamorphosis, mutation, (dis)integration… In video you have the possibility of editing, special effects, 3D animations etc. XYSex was the first performance idea which never made it onto the stage, but became a video art instead. With time we developed our original language and started to do more and more video projects.

Would you consider the harsh imagery you often employ an attempt at inducing a cathartic experience in your viewers? Would you describe your performances as collective rituals aimed at re-fashioning society?

P: I honestly don’t care what the imagery I create induces in the viewers. I think that art, which changes the society, is one that serves the politics, because it based on the assumption that society can be manipulated. For me it’s already propaganda. Our performances are not based on social engineering techniques. I don’t give the viewers any specific instruction, I don’t teach and I don’t have the need to manipulate people. I only simulate a certain event. As an example I give crash tests performed in laboratories. They are also a simulation of a real event. Of course nobody dies in these artificial accidents, however sometimes they use real corpses or meat and the cars after the tests are only suitable for scrap. For me the most important is the cognitive element in our performances. They are artificially created situations differing from the generally accepted standards. Situations which can arouse certain emotions. Everyone participates in these events on his own responsibility. Everyone takes what he sees in his own way and finds (or not) elements connecting the created images with his own reality. This is how in my opinion the sender/receiver relation should look like. It comes from the respect I have for the viewer. I do not tolerate (imposing) the form and content of propaganda.
S: Our performances are never programmed to create a collective experience. I know they can induce all kinds of reactions – from catharsis to rage. For me it’s interesting to see how one performance, depending on the audience (country, type of event) can be considered as dark, violent, romantic, sexy, funny or provoke no reactions at all. It’s an ongoing experiment, far more interesting for me than any attempts of manipulation.

You’ve often performed your pieces at fetish festivals such as Torture Garden. How do you see yourselves in relation to fetish culture and how is this interest perceived in your own country, renowned for its Catholic Puritanism?

P: Clubs like Torture Garden are still quite exotic in Poland. When it comes to sexual awareness and education, we are still at the level of experience of Western Europe in the 70s. Responsible for it is the emerging influence of Catholic Church on the society and politics following the fall of communism. The generation of the 20-year-olds seems to be completely disabled on this field. The culture of fetish clubs is deformed, people try to copy it without understanding its mechanisms and roots. Most people attending fetish events in Poland cannot accept the fact that the first fetish clubs were created by the homosexual community. We have witnessed many attempts of creating the fetish scene in Poland over the last 6 years, tried to support some of them, but I don’t see the point of it anymore. The problem is too deep and I’m not a sexologist or a psychiatrist.
S: We started to perform at fetish events at the time, when we could no longer freely develop our ideas in theatres and galleries in Poland. We needed a place that would allow us to experiment without any limits or censorship. In theatre even costumes made of PVC were considered obscene. In Torture Garden we have presented so far almost 20 different performances. Most of them were premieres; some have been later successfully presented at international theatre festivals (Flesh Camp, Clone Factory). Only Torture Garden allowed us to explore the idea of car crash fetishism as depicted in Ballard’s novel Crash.
So for us the fetish scene is more a laboratory than an inspiration per se.

In her 1974 essay The Body as Language Lea Vergine wrote that “These artists do not take a “long look at life”, and their forms of expression are not genteel. Thy make no a priori exclusions and in most of them suffering is not transformed into mysticism. This is particularly true when they are involved in the investigation of our infirmities and the monstrous organization of the real. It’s a question of facing up to death through life, rummaging around in the under and seamy sides of life, bringing to light the secret and the hidden.” How would you comment this fragment?

P: I will not comment on theorists, who describe the taste of a dish on the basis of the recipe. Also because it is already quite an archaic description. Bacon once said: “My painting is not violent; it’s life that is violent.” Expecting artists who work with their bodies to reveal the universal truth, secret of life and death is naive and in my opinion a little schizophrenic. It suggests that the artist isn’t a conscious creator of certain events, but only a participant, a subject.

S: I think that it is a misunderstanding that body art is always talking about pain, suffering, death etc. Just as nudity isn’t always sexual, piercing and bleeding isn’t always related to pain. In our works there is no real suffering neither is there any mysticism. We are using our bodies as a medium. We can paint it like canvas, we can sculpt it, connect it to other devices or we can project images on it. But as long as it is used as our tool, our true emotions stay hidden. We are neither exhibitionists, nor masochists. And we are definitely not trying to be philosophers. We are not seeking the truth, we are creating images. We leave the interpretation to the viewers.

Many of your works could be read as potential constructions of the “third gender”. How important is this paradigm shift in you larger, post-humanist discourse? Would you claim, as Slavoj Zizek did, that “once sexual difference is abolished, a human being effectively becomes indistinguishable from a machine”?

P: I think that Zizek consciously became an element of pop culture, which is based on repeating all over again the same information. He juggles elements of modernity, impressing those who don’t know the past. Similar philosophical concepts have been already formulated in the XVIII century by Le Mettrie in L’homme machine and later continued by Max Stirner. Zizek didn’t say anything new. We just live in different times and surround ourselves with different technologies, but the morality had changed very little over the last few hundred years and it’s morality that determines progress or its lack. “Third sex” in our work has a symbolical meaning. We use it in a similar way the ancient Greeks did. We mythologize sex and the biological functions connected with it.
S: I have always been fascinated by the myth of Salmakis and Hermaphrodite. The idea, that the only way to truly connect with another person is to become one organism. I think that in a way we are doing it in the cycle tranSfera. We replace the mythical stream of Salmakis with the stream of electronic impulses or the stream of light from the projector. The electric current becomes an additional sense, artificially added to the body with use of needles. It transfers audio/video data about the male and female. Electronic devices derive the data from the bodies, capture it and remix by both reducing and multiplying the income data in order to generate something that you could call the “third gender”. But it is extracted from the physicality of the body, it exists only virtually. We are not interested at all in the phenomenon of trans-sexualism.

The man-machine hybridization is a recurrent theme of your work. How do recent technological advances influence your artistic research?

P: We use them as modern tools. The most irritating element of modern science and technology progress is the previously mentioned concept of morality. Morality based on Christian and Jewish dogma. These values did not evolve at all. The situation is worst on the field of sexuality and forms of its expression. Artists are afraid to objectify sex – putting it inside a machine – because they would be accused of chauvinism, sexism or homophobia. Therefore using technology in the field of sexuality doesn’t go beyond creating a funny looking dildo or an artificial vagina. We are interested in finding new forms of expression in the dialogue between two bodies.

Often your pieces display a dystopian character and are manifestations of a post-industrial aesthetic. Would you consider yourselves as anti-modernists?

P: Modernism is connected with progress and rationalism. We use modern materials and means of expression, rejecting the old, outdated methods and ideas. So how could I be anti-modernist?
The post-industrial aesthetics comes from the place where we work (Upper Silesia) as well as from the experiences of the past dozen or so years on the counter-cultural field.
S: We don’t consider our work as dystopian. We are not trying to depict the dark future of human kind or the “ugly consequences of present-day behavior”. We’re concentrated on some basic human mechanisms, without judging or warning anyone. The aesthetics may be sometimes futuristic, but the subject is always universal.

And one final question, what are SUKA OFF’s other sections and projects and how do you see them develop in the future?

P: Apart from SUKA OFF I also coordinate the video projects: BLACK FLESH VIDEO and INSIDE FLESH. There is also the VHS multimedia project in collaboration with the musician WIRACKI.
At the moment the most important projects for us require precise technical conditions. We want to slow down, test many ideas that arose in clubs, but due to the nature of the space we could not realize them in a precise way. Working in the club increasingly frustrated us. The audience’s interest in more serious subjects disappears. I do not blame anyone for this, but even 4 years ago it was a little different. Of course, if you want to surprise the audience every time, you need adequate resources. And this is where the problems begin. Stage shows became only an addition to the party.
Right now we want to concentrate on developing some project from the last two years, making full use of their potential. Red Dragon will eventually appear in other colors and spatial solutions. We have already a dozen of new ideas for this series. For November we’re preparing the next episode of tranSfera. Next year we hope to continue the project we launched this year, based on Ballard’s novel Crash.
Recently, we appear more and more often in “traditional” spaces such as galleries and theaters, and that’s where I see the next stage of our work. It is a kind of return to the past. The thing that slows us down is the lack of space to work. Working at home for a long time is not the best solution. Equally important for us are the video projects. As Sylvia mentioned, working in front of the camera allows greater precision. It is also an easier way to reach the global audience interested in such aesthetics.

Artwork: Red Dragon, performance at Omissis Festival. By Paolo Tozzi. Courtesy of the artist

questions by Simina Neagu.

answers by Piotr Wegrzynski & Sylvia Lajbig

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE September 2010 issue.


There has always been a fascinating thing about envisioning death. It is something we can’t perceive in the everyday life, we can only make assumptions, create an image, based on some sort of reason. In film, the director does not need those steps, he can always articulate moods, he can induce emotions. Many films have dealt with this theme, directly or indirectly, but I found most of them mainly concerned with the act of dying itself. However, I chose three films, which I thought they weren’t: Mulholland Drive, Persona and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Persona deals more with the death of communication rather than the death of someone, however Bergman’s approach keeps it on-topic, especially since we are not talking about death as a physical process. Physically, there’s nothing to say, nothing needed to be said, it’s all very clear. But death, as a refusal?

The core of Persona revolved around this refusal – one’s refusal to communicate with the environment, with the so-called system. Silence can make you walk through it all carelessly, lack of reaction, lack of response, lack of nearly anything, because one can’t be taken away nor be denied what one doesn’t have any longer. But, as the film says, reality inflicts upon anything.

There is a tendency in people to create or summon illusions in order to escape their own actions, or a series of disturbing events, or their own fears. It may seem to have nothing to do with death, but as I said, we are not discussing the physical process here. If you leave that aside, you may realize that it does. It is a process of alienation, to begin with, and in this process, many people may picture themselves completely different from how they are in reality. It is a process: you sacrifice something you find no satisfaction in or no meaning for, in order to achieve something that works and means something to you. You want your own ordeal to mean something. All the three films share some common ground with the lines written above, but two of them especially: Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks, the first especially. Twin Peaks channels the outlandish to underline how easy we can fall for what we perceive as evil and to create some balance between what we find terrifying and what we find eerie or hypnotic.

However, Mulholland Drive follows the scheme: a woman creating a frail world in which all of her dreams come true, where the person she wants is nearly faceless (so that she can have that person as long as she wants, projecting on him whatever fantasies she has). Thus, reality inflicts itself again: our deeds, what we are, our fears break through. We might think we have created a secret world, but ultimately, that world is part of us, and as long as we were touched by fear, traumas, it isn’t secret.

There is something else that stands out in Mulholland Drive: the way it was crafted. We are made believe that what we are seeing is real, from the very beginning and even during the moments when we were slightly perplexed and we take very little notice of what is happening. Lynch plays the fantasy first, exposing an ill-fated heroine by showing us her fantasies. This might be considered fun in a Wild Disney film where you would take your kids to watch, but here, the effect is terrifying. You see something hypnotic, maybe even too eerie or idealistic and then, sooner or later, you realize what lies beneath. It is as if someone casts a spell on you to make you walk together with a charming companion: you enjoy their presence, only to learn in the end that they passed away some years ago and what you are experiencing now is the image from when they were still alive.

Death is not present in Mulholland Drive, not until the end of the film (when Diane/Betty pulls the trigger), death as a process is subtracted, but the dead themselves aren’t.

On a lighter note, for those of you who have seen both Mulholland Drive and Persona, there is a particular scene present in both of those movies. A key scene (cinema-wise) from Persona which is “summoned” in Mulholland Drive as well.

There is the color blue that has its share of importance in both Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks. We have the blue rose cases in Twin Peaks, we have the blue box, the blue key, even a lady with blue hair in Mulholland Drive. In both of these cases, asides the mysterious note, blue is something that separates two layers: we have the blue key which we see in both of the Mulholland Drive layers (the dream and reality), a blue key which is the reason for one character’s physical amnesia and the other’s desired one. Gordon’s blue rose case crosses the line between the mundane and the unearthly by having one agent disappear, one coming out of nowhere after some years of absence, some eerie out-of-nowhere sounds and so forth.

However, while Mulholland Drive is reserved in the sense that it maintains the immediate reality, as we know it, Twin Peaks becomes freewheeling. Twin Peaks channels the feeling of that reality, but messes around everything else. Here, death is not something subtracted, but something that is foreseen in many ways and – as it turns out to be – something that is desired.

At its core, Twin Peaks has a simple plot: a man who rapes and murders his own daughter. It’s something one would be keen on watching, right? But instead of merely showing that, Lynch fragments his male protagonist (Leland Palmer) in such way that we can be sympathetic as we see something more than just a murder. Leland comes and kisses Laura goodnight, after a very disturbing dinner table scene, in a very powerful scene. He does that in such a sincere way, that one may realize that at some moment he acknowledges the damage he is doing, but simply cannot stop.

In the same manner, he fragments the female protagonist (Laura Palmer), who is a prom queen with a “sweet tooth for nose candy”, hence the most primitive plot description would sound like this: a man rapes and murders his cocaine-addicted daughter. Sounds even promising, right? But the film barely lets you see this, and even its most depraved scenes are in facto very painful at their core.

Twin Peaks wraps and places everything according to its own rules, in a world to which we feel connected. Of all three, in Twin Peaks/Fire Walk With Me (I consider them a single project), the idea of death is the most pronounced. Let us remember one of the first lines of the TV series: “She’s dead, wrapped in plastic”. The prequel (Fire Walk With Me) reeks of the awareness of death – there are no mysteries here for those who have seen the series: “Tonight is the night that I die [...] I know he wants me, I can feel his fire, but if I die, he can’t hurt me anymore”. There are also ghostly presences throughout the series: “The Chalfonts” – an old lady and her grand-son, who weren’t in fact the Chalfonts, the real persons being the ones who lived there before; there is also a scene in which Laura watches herself; there is a ring (“with this ring I seek wife”) which Cooper tells Laura not to take.

There is an interesting idea: in Persona, the idea of death is sketched by the lack of communication – which means that we have a theoretical image applied to something else. In Mulholland Drive, we can sense it, but we cannot see it, and thus becomes creepy and disturbing. In Twin Peaks/FWWM we can both see it and sense it, and it is spooky sometimes, but there is also a mesmerizing “sequel” of it: there is the blue rose (or Holy Grail if you want, ’cause none of them really exists. Yet both of them are connected to a (con)quest).

That’s it for now, see you on the blue box or the black lodge.

Movie still: Persona. 1966.

by Shade

Full article here.




The following article was published in n-sphere september 2010 issue.


First of all, welcome to the Spheres. In order to introduce our readers to the Modernism & Vintage world, how would you describe your body of work?

Modernism & Vintage was born as a personal blog, inspired by things like Fashion clothing, Design, Photography, Architecture, Natural Cosmetics… Then, I wanted to create my own accessories, for my personal use and with my personal taste, but in the end, they ended up being published on my blog, under the name/brand Modernism & Vintage.

In today’s over commercialized consumer society, packaging aspect holds great weight on a customer’s decision to buy one item or another. What concepts and/or ideas lie beneath the decorative packaging and tagging you choose for your pieces?

I’m one of those people who care about the packaging of the products that they buy, so I really think about the item as an entire concept. I usually? have a final idea of the finished product in my mind.
At this moment, I’m just a person who makes her own accessories in a handmade way, so I pay attention to the article itself, the tagging and its appearance when I publish on the blog. I’m a designer, so I try to show the pieces in the best way I can, but at this moment, I do my work within my means.

Given the small size these items usually have, how would you ascertain the level of difficulty in creating your pieces? Is the design and development usually demanding or is it just a means to pass time?

I guess that “making” something like my accessories is not so difficult, in fact, there are a lot of people who make jewelry as a hobby. The main thing is to choose the right materials and design for a beautiful composition. So, I want to believe that is my aim as well. I’m discovering my style. It started out as a personal work, to pass the time, and at this moment it is something more serious. I had to recreate some pieces because someone requested and wanted one in particular.

You mentioned having a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Would you categorize your accessories as a result of a hobby, or does it have deeper roots and implications?

Yes, I’m a Fine Arts Graduate with Graphic Design and Audiovisual specialization, so my accessories can be the result of that, obviously, but it’s also something deeper.
I have my personal taste and preferences. I like certain painters, architectural styles… your aesthetics sometimes influence you more than the world you have to live in.

Which of your past projects do you consider to have been most rewarding personally?

The best thing that happened to me as a designer, was to be sponsored by the Promsite Collective, which is a site with the best graphic designers in Spain at the moment. It was the greatest honour I received as a professional. You can visit my graphic portfolio under the pseudonym Insofferenza (

Do you have your own clothing line or is there a collaboration with designers, such as Amoelbarroco?

I would love to, but I have to say no for the moment. Probably in the future… I’m thinking about it. I studied at the same university as Amoelbarroco, we’ve also lived together some time ago. She’s a good friend of mine, it would be great to do something in collaboration with her.
Who knows if she gives me that chance some day… jeje.

Are there any other collaborations in progress now for the Modernism & Vintage project?

No, I’m very individualistic about/regarding my work, but nothing came up either.

Some of your brooches have inserted vintage photos. What is the source of these pictures and what is your motivation for choosing to integrate them in your pieces?

I browse for that kind of photos, with the vintage feel, in second hand shops or on the internet.
I chose the vintage style because I love the way the pictures were taken, the colors (or the black and white), the scenery, the textures, the models… I love the XIXth century, it means elegance to me and that’s exactly what I want for my accessories.

Accessories are usually associated with symbols of status or connection to certain social groups. How would you argue your pieces fit into today’s social machinations? Are they a means to transgress norms or just nostalgic elements?

My accessories appeal to certain people. Not everybody likes that vintage and romantic look. I don’t pretend to transgress norms, I just want to look back into the past and feel that we can have part of them nowadays. Part of the beautiful things they made, the elegance of that season, under my personal perspective.

The feel of a certain era transgresses through your entire body of work. Why this specific choice and not another historical period? Does it hold any special meaning for you?

I’m a Romantic person, with all that implies. As a Romantic, I always have the dark side of life present, but I want to show the beauty of that period in my work too.
As far as I remember, the Symbolist and Romantic painters were my favourites, I also love modernist architecture… For me this is one of the most beautiful aesthetic movements in history. I am fond of movements such us Wiener Werkstätte, artists like Beardsley, Mucha, decadent painters…

Do you have any other interests at the moment?

Yes, I always have many things on my mind… But studying something related to Fashion Design is my priority.

What type of tools do you usually make use of when creating your pieces?

I use fabrics, bronze items, laces, ribbons, tulle, vintage photos, chains, buttons, clocks… every single thing that I find interesting and could be included in a piece of my work.

What do you find inspirational at the moment and what projects are on their way?

Well, I have been doing this for a few months, so… I didn’t have enough time to grow up in this area. I want to continue improving my designs, making better accesories, with better fabrics and more beautiful compositions. And I want to explore more fields, making some bracelets, some headdress, some T-Shirts… this would be the future aim for Modernism & Vintage right now.

To conclude, how would you describe the sphere of Modernism & Vintage and its elements?

Modernism & Vintage, sums up the meaning and the entire concept of my tastes and preferences. The XIXth Century is the center of my blog and work. My creations are the result of my personal love for the vintage look. Modernism is one of my favourite periods.
The result: accessories in which I try to infuse that old fashion essence.

questions by Vel Thora

answers by Patricia Brito

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-Sphere September 2010 issue.


Name: Michaela Knížová

Location: Košice, Slovak Republic

Occupation: Student, Artist, Performer

Definition of personal sphere: Inside the cocoon

Artwork in 4 words: Melancholic, romantic, saint and secular

What is inspirational for you: Old art, saints, death and romanticism, dark places, personal dreams, nightmares

Currently favourite artists: Edward Burne Jones and Rineke Dijkstra

Tools of trade: Digital cameras, scanner, old broken photos, water, fog, poetry

Current obsessions: Pre-Raphaelism, fairy tales, coffee and myself

Personal temptation: Occultism

Artwork: Fairy Tales II


Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE September 2010 issue.


I want to tell you about the winter of the walls they built in years and years of shared distance and rejection.

Relentless tiny drops of poison knocked at their door with silent piercing sound, the means to a brutal end. One carried false sorrow and regret, and an egocentric sense or reality (or whatever was left of it, both the sense and the reality), the other meaningless and mean rebellion against a fraud authority of a demilitarized dementia. And “the games” go on each day, and the walls grow stronger and break within themselves, until there will be no one left to fight or rebel against. Each of them secluded and “safely” tucked away in their mockery of fortresses, they go on burning every bridge, insanely justifying it with the tardiness of everything that might bring the senseless chaos to a halt. And as the slaughter unfolds yet another spectacular act, the poor watcher, collateral mandatory victim, knowingly and perhaps with futile energy and intent steps between the monstrous and toxic warmongers “blessed” with endless resources of psychotic attitude and of fabricating enormous amounts of refined and top quality, exquisite guilt.

And so, by the rules of combat and those of “the games”, a new sacrificial lamb takes up the challenge, w.m.d.–s in his back pocket, casual weaponry for everyday use at absurd picnics and mute howling choirs singing odes to King Nonsense.

“Hail Master. Let it be bestowed upon me thy grace and madness, so I may be allowed to do thy bidding. As anxious as I may be, I pledge that I will not fail those who joined the nothingness before me.”

by Bahak B

artwork by Vel Thora

Full article here.