140 beats per minute
The “140 beats per minute” exhibition, prepared for this year's Open'er Festival by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, presents the connections between 90s rave culture and modern art in Poland.
"140 beats per minute. Rave culture and art in 1990s Poland". The title is a reference to the number of beats per minute in classic techno music. Jacek Sienkiewicz, a pioneer of techno in Poland, whose works are presented in the exhibition, played in this tempo in the 90s. The word “rave” is used to describe dance parties with electronic music – mainly techno – that began to appear in Poland together with the political system change in the early 90s, often voicing the naive, but nonetheless authentic optimism of opening up to the world, its civilizational and technological advancement.
Visual artists were intrigued by a new figure present in rave culture, that of a sample artist - DJ and VJ - who creates his works live from prepared material. As opposed to previous music subcultures and artistic directions, a sample artist fights for his anonymity and contests the existing cultural hierarchies – the divisions between the revered artist and the fascinated fans. Artists interpreted techno as another incarnation of avant-garde, non-literary abstract art of constructivist provenance. By entering into a relation with rave culture, they showed interest in its technological aspect. Here, art is created mechanically. It is a reaction to the appearance of new, mass-scale technologies, such as personal computers and the internet, in the 90s. Art created in the context of rave was another chapter in the history of relations between art and technology, and a direct precursor of current post-internet art.
In the “140 beats per minute” exhibition we are especially interested in the role of rave in relation to the pop tendency of Polish art in the 1990s. In opposition to so-called critical art, artists creating this trend sought more inclusive, non-elitist forms of building commu-nities through art.