Construction in Process I

1981, Lodz, Poland

Les Levine's project

The first Construction in Process took place in 1981, in Lodz, Poland during the birth of "Solidarity" - the new and dynamic social movement which gave its spiritual patronage to the event. It was the biggest independent art event ever organized in post-war Poland, or in Middle-Eastern Europe in which participated over 50 outstanding artists of the art of the 70s; artists donated all works created for the event to "Solidarity". During that first gathering of Construction in Process, it was decided that Construction in Process should continue every few years in different places of the world as an essential invocation of co-existence and solidarity among artists.


Carl AndrePatrick IrelandRichard Nonas
Hartmut BoehmServie JanssenRoman Opalka
Michael Craig-MartinKazuo KataseDennis Oppenheim
Ad DekkersStanislav KolibalDavid Rabinowitch
Ger DekkersTomasz KonartJozef Robakowski
Jan DibbetsAttila KovacsEd Ruscha
Norman DilworthPawel KwiekReiner Ruthenbeck
Peter DownsboroughLes LevineFred Sandback
David DyeSol LeWittRichard Serra
Ivan GaletaRichard LongPaul Sharits
Tibor GayorPeter LoweYoshio Shirakawa
Gerhard V. GraevenitzKenneth MartinRobert Smithson
Dan GrahamDora MaurerPeter Struycken
Noriyuki HaraguchiRune MieldsGunter Uecker
Tim HeadAntoni MikolajczykKen Unsworth
Anthony HillManfred MohrBernard Venet
Nancy HoltFrancois MorelletRyszard Wasko
Taka IimuraMaurizio NannucciRyszard Winiarski

"For at least six celebratory days, there were performances, symposia, films, music (including a concert by a Polish jazz group), with viewers arriving from Warsaw and beyond. Even more inspiring than the work itself was the euphoric comradeship of the group. Twice a day, the whole company ate at a local restaurant, where serious art talk flowed along with vodka, sometimes far into the night. There was very little sleep" - Grace Glueck, "The New York Times", Jan.24, 1982

"It was the kind of event that happens only once, sometimes in each generation, and is never forgotten: a special time, a special place, special people." - Richard Nonas, 'The Artists' Museum', book, Lodz, 1997

David Rabinowitch meeting with the Organizing Committee of "Construction in Process", from left to right; Krzysztof Osada, Ryszard Wasko, ?, David Rabinowitch, Andrzej Kamrowski, Jacek Jozwiak, Jozef Robakowski
The view at PKWN Street factory where the exhibition was held
The interior of PKWN Factory
Opening of the Construction in Process I


Antoni Mikolajczyk, an artist connected to the Lodz group "Workshop", who (using hand-made stamps) made a poster for CONSTRUCTION IN PROCESS, proposed to organize an exhibition of Polish art of the 70's called "Falochron" ("Pier"). There were lots of active and important artists of the Polish "independent scene" who took part in this exhibition. The "Falochron" exhibition was organized by The Culture Originators Association of Lodz.

"Well, it went okay... Jozef Robakowski, another of Poland's leading avant-garde artists, invited each visiting artist to contribute a segment to a film anthology; Robakowski, also a professor at the Lodz Film Academy, arranged to provide the necessary equipment and film stock/processing... I was able to shoot the first part of the two part film I had planned: "For Chopin / For Solidarity" - perhaps the second part can be realized at the Film Academy as I left clear instructions with Robakowski, a good friend who admires my work a lot, because of a recent leg and hip injury. I would have been in a real mess if he and his wonderful wife Margarit Potocka (a commercial film actress who is extremly talented and who is now making her own personal non-commercial films)had not looked after me - because the Russian imposed petrol "crisis" has nearly crippled taxi transport in Lodz and the taxis have no radio control and cannot be ordered - like the long bread lines everywhere, so are the lines for the cabs at the infrequent cab stop spots (one night the taxi drivers demonstrated by parking infront of the public building, demanding access to the fuel of their trade - quite remarkable strike). Jozef was one of the lucky few who had enough gas in his tank to get (just) through the week. I should go on a bit with this problem because it points to one aspect of the gathering of artists I wish to take up later; i.e., the sense of "Solidarity" between us all - everyone helped each other out with transportation problems whenever possible, even jamming cabs, "solid", when they were available, with up to 7 or 8 persons in one at a time... The good-natured cooperation and friendliness between Western and Eastern Block persons at the exhibit subtly indicates a relationship avant-garde art has to a growing political sentiment in Eastern Europe in general." - Excerpt From a Letter to the U.S.I.C.A. Concerning Trip to Poland /Paul Sharits/ Nov. 1, 1081

Screenplay and Direction: JOZEF ROBAKOWSKIPhotography: Andrzej Wyrozebski, Piotr Zarebski, Czeslaw Chwiszczukproduction: Wlodzimierz KaczmarskiMusic: Wojciech CzajkowskiSound: Jan FredaSettings: Ryszard Feja
The filmpresents the following artists:
Jan DibbetsPeter DownsboroughGerhard von Graevenitz
Noriyuki HaraguchiTaka IimuraServie Janssen
Kazuo KataseStanislaw KolibalTomasz Konart
Paul SharitsNancy HoltAttila Kovacs
Pawel KwiekPeter LoweRune Mields
Antoni MikolajczykRichard NonasRoman Opalka
Ken UnsworthBernard VenetRyszard Wasko
Ryszard WiniarskiJozef RobakowskiTibor Gayor
Sol LeWittNatalia LLZdzislaw Piernik
Henryk StazewskiReiner Ruthenbeck

Production: Polish Corporation for Film Production - "Zespoly Filmowe", "ANEX" Unit.
35 and 16mm., color, 1982, /35mm - 1650m, 16mm - 650m/
commentary in English, French, German

The film "Construction in Process" repeats the title of the important international art exhibition, which took place in the city of Lodz, in the vacated factory space "Budrem", during November 1981. The film is not a description of the exhibition itself, nor an interpretation of this event. It attempts to be an extension of the exhibition. The show is treated as a catalyst, which enables the film to become an independent fabric of art. The film touches upon the problems and the behavior of people involved in a situation, which became exceptional in the context of the city and its society. The filmmakers became technicians and resource persons for the visiting artists who came to Lodz from many parts of the world. Their aim was to help these artists to produce short individual films, which became the framework of the project. Meanwhile the filmmakers provided the linking threads for this shaky construction. Whether this enterprise fulfills its initial premise, only the viewer can judge.
J. Robakowski

stills from Robakowski's movie

"And we did it - we made it in New York... And, interesting enough, we made it with no money... And the printer that I had worked with, cause I was doing books, some books at the time - the printer said `Yeah, you know, listen... I won't take any money from you.` And he walked - took me into the printing room, where a lot of the printers at that point were Russian emigres, and he said ` Listen, this is what the situation is...` And these guys said `Listen, we'll work for nothing, too.`
And we did a book, we did a catalog that basically cost us about - fifteen hundred dollars, for a - you know, about a hundred and fifty-page catalog, a thousand copies. Which is worth - you know, finally - smuggled back to Poland and distributed all over the world. Which is quite extraordinary.

        This publication is intended 
        as a documentation of the 
        art exhibition "Construction 
        in Process" and the events 
        surrounding it.

                           Peter Downsborough
                           Richard Nonas
                           Fred Sandback
the cover of the catalog "Konstrukcja w Procesie" published by Thousand Secretaries Press, New York

OK - that's what the first show was. While, before martial law, we'd been planning the second show. I mean, the second show was even more idealistic than the first show, in this sense of - this kind of weird, physically real ideology. This physically real idealism. This idealism that isn't an utopian idealism - it was idealism about what was happening at the moment. And Wasko had sent us all letters ..." - Richard Nonas

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