Thermograms - operations on reality

Art till it hurts

Live Gallery, Lodz progressive art movement 1969-1992

'ART' friend (a memoir)

Art is a power!

The Measure of Photography



Art till it hurts

Jozef Robakowski

Give me some more voltage please. I love the taste of volts -10, 20,40, 80, 150, 200...
Another 10 please - that will do! I feel great. I am in a state of bliss. It is so good. At 210 volts I feel a lump in my throat, have no saliva in my mouth. My tongue gets stuck, I feel speechless, I cannot tell you anything any more. I do not exist verbally. I have a tingling sensation all over my body. It is delightful. I feel that THIS ART becomes pure for I do not intend to pass anything to you, in spite of the fact that I have become our common energetic screen. In a full trance I keep on being charged with the vibrating alternating current. I am undulating! By the physical fact, being at this very moment a bodily screen, I can feel my blood pulsating so intensely. Endow me with more power! I am starting to think by means of fantastic images. I can feel no pain. I still need some more electricity. Perhaps then it will turn out that ART WITHOUT A LANGUAGE is something wonderful. I am begging you - try! I am asking for another portion of electricity to make sure, without any doubts, that non-linguistic thinking does exist, that I can transcend my imagination and become an absolutely free man. I feel dry. I am happy, but I have some doubts: Is my work of an artistic nature or not? Nevertheless, give me some more voltage please. Another 10 volts. I want to go beyond your, but also my, notion of art. 220 V - that's it! I am burning with delight, trembling, getting happier and happier...
I devoted another work to the pain in my leg. I walk limping, with a camera in front of me, far from my eyes. A painful cry bursts from my lips - oh, oh! I want to convey an authentic message concerning my sensation of pain at any price. Maybe by conveying my pain to you I shall pass at least some of it onto you? For with every step I take I get convinced that a portion of my pain gets transmitted onto a video tape and my leg stops swallowing. As if it hurt less. Another 30 meters to be registered...
Another event with a drastic ending. Hammering a big hook into the wall, by accident I hurt my finger very badly. The pain was horrible. In course of time the nail on my forefinger was taking on different colours. My friends told me that surely a painful change of the nail was coming. I set on my video camera. For four weeks I was filming a report of my pain. My finger became a main protagonist of my artistic experience. I kept discovering passionately the degrees of a violet scale and various stages of the pain affecting my finger, but also my whole body. My left forefinger became a PERFORMER. More and more people were watching it live. A process of loosing the nail became a public property. Everybody felt compassionate... Yes, ART TILL IT HURTS not only entered the awareness of my long-term pain. Now, when I watch this video report with the audience I come to the conclusion: it is good that I hit myself with a hammer. An accident brought about a certain significant fact, which in a form of a video recording does not hurt any longer. Looking at this dramatic realisation the audience usually responds with laughter. This authentic recording does not contain MY PAIN any longer. Hence, it allows me to formulate the following statement: ART does not hurt - it should not hurt. It is a mockery on a real pain. It is merely an appearance of the actual experience of an artist. I recommend pondering over this statement to the so-called "butchers of art", offering my realisation of 1989 - "My videomasochisms". This time I suffer a terrible pain on the TV screen in sound and vision. In front of the camera I 'operate' on my face with various tools. By being transmitted onto a video tape the torture of 'sound and vision' becomes a public fact. It gets emitted by many TV stations all over the world. It evokes the audience's pity for its author. My game in front of the camera becomes our shared pain by making it public. An unceremonious sensation of pain. The body does not hurt, but a sense of pain emanates from the TV screen and plunges into us. ART can do it. It is only apparently authentic, but just such art is what many people need. Thus I am asking my artists friends - please come back to the screen of appearances and stop hurting your beautiful bodies.

[translation Malgorzata Sady]

This text concerns the following realisations:
I AM ELECTRIC (art for a changing electric current), performance, TV transmission, video tape -1995/96
GEE! MY LEG HURTS..., video - 1990
FAREWELL TO A NAIL (a video story), video performance - 1997
MY VIDEOMASOCHISMS, video - 1989/90
HOT IMAGES (thermal works from the traumatic art cycle) - 1998/99