Poor Sexy East

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Poor Sexy East first blog · Fragments, snippets, bits and bobs related to the forthcoming book on Ostalgia, Westalgia, cold war modern "dreamlands", called Poor but Sexy by Agata Pyzik, for Zer0 Books, also at http://nuitssansnuit.blogspot.com/
The spectre of communist and ‘east’ never goes away for some: recently all of Baltic countries protested against being included in the Guardian’s New East network, combining all post-Soviet countries, as they don’t want to be considered having anything to do with any Soviet past. I wrote a comment for the Guardian in response: why this is not wise, and it’s only subjugating to the Western colonising view, in which we, the East, are always the ‘lesser’, weaker subordinate or evil, like Russia

The spectre of communist and ‘east’ never goes away for some: recently all of Baltic countries protested against being included in the Guardian’s New East network, combining all post-Soviet countries, as they don’t want to be considered having anything to do with any Soviet past. I wrote a comment for the Guardian in response: why this is not wise, and it’s only subjugating to the Western colonising view, in which we, the East, are always the ‘lesser’, weaker subordinate or evil, like Russia

I also wrote an essay on why Lars von Trier’s supposedly punchy, brave and sexually liberating new film Nymphomaniac just as his recent turn to ‘anti-ethics’ and pro-women approach are not exactly what the seem, for the New Humanist, which you can subscribe for only 1£! (madness not to do so).

I also wrote an essay on why Lars von Trier’s supposedly punchy, brave and sexually liberating new film Nymphomaniac just as his recent turn to ‘anti-ethics’ and pro-women approach are not exactly what the seem, for the New Humanist, which you can subscribe for only 1£! (madness not to do so).

I wrote on one of the most important Soviet films ever made, the New Wave pioneer and the masterpiece of the Thaw period Cranes Are Flying for the Calvert Journal, to commemorate its great female star Tatiana Samoilova, who died recently.

I wrote on one of the most important Soviet films ever made, the New Wave pioneer and the masterpiece of the Thaw period Cranes Are Flying for the Calvert Journal, to commemorate its great female star Tatiana Samoilova, who died recently.

I wrote on Sex in Russian film for Calvert Journal. Soon a longer version on the blog.

I wrote on Sex in Russian film for Calvert Journal. Soon a longer version on the blog.

Today the greatest living Polish poet died, Tadeusz Rozewicz 1921-2014. he was almost 93 years old. He wrote about the aftermath of war like no one else. he was a man of spare words. And he was often funny.

The Survivor
I am twenty fourled to slaughterI survived

The following are empty synonymsman and beastlove and hatefriend and foedarkness and light.
The way of killing men and beasts is the sameI’ve seen it:truckfuls of chopped up menwho will not be saved.
Ideas are mere words:virtue and crimetruth and liesbeauty and uglinesscourage and cowardice.
Virtue and crime weigh the sameI’ve seen itin a man who was bothcriminal and virtuous.
I seek a teacher and a mastermay he restore my sight hearing and speechmay he again name objects and ideasmay he separate darkness from light.
I am twenty-fourled to slaughterI survived.

Today the greatest living Polish poet died, Tadeusz Rozewicz 1921-2014. he was almost 93 years old. He wrote about the aftermath of war like no one else. he was a man of spare words. And he was often funny.

The Survivor

I am twenty four
led to slaughter
I survived

The following are empty synonyms
man and beast
love and hate
friend and foe
darkness and light.

The way of killing men and beasts is the same
I’ve seen it:
truckfuls of chopped up men
who will not be saved.

Ideas are mere words:
virtue and crime
truth and lies
beauty and ugliness
courage and cowardice.

Virtue and crime weigh the same
I’ve seen it
in a man who was both
criminal and virtuous.

I seek a teacher and a master
may he restore my sight hearing and speech
may he again name objects and ideas
may he separate darkness from light.

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

"When the influential American writer Jane Jacobs opposed zoning, she was opposing the tendency of spaces in estates to become bleak and abandoned. But what followed was insistence on making places ‘vibrant’. In the case of the Iron Gate, this meant building around the monolithic, huge and identical Ville Radieuse-style blocks in green space a net of significantly higher flats for speculation, clad with an especially cheap and perishable material –  trespa,  and imposing office/retail developments." An old article for Afterall magazine (May 2012), but today, with the revival of Jane Jacobs and studies on Socialist Realism, still pertinent. I was hoping to develop thinking on Socialist realist architecture in the book, but I ended up talking much more about its theory, visual arts, cinema and literature.

"When the influential American writer Jane Jacobs opposed zoning, she was opposing the tendency of spaces in estates to become bleak and abandoned. But what followed was insistence on making places ‘vibrant’. In the case of the Iron Gate, this meant building around the monolithic, huge and identical Ville Radieuse-style blocks in green space a net of significantly higher flats for speculation, clad with an especially cheap and perishable material –  trespa,  and imposing office/retail developments." An old article for Afterall magazine (May 2012), but today, with the revival of Jane Jacobs and studies on Socialist Realism, still pertinent. I was hoping to develop thinking on Socialist realist architecture in the book, but I ended up talking much more about its theory, visual arts, cinema and literature.

Poor but Sexy exists in a paper form! (and yes, this girl on the pic is me, hi). The author’s copies arrived a few days ago. Can’t entirely believe it, it’s still two months to the official premiere, but you can preorder a copy already and I’m sure they will be actually available before the official date.

Have no scanner working at the moment, so will be uploading small parts of my vast collection of communist era design & Illustration. In here, I concentrate on children’s illustration: most of all postcards, but also books. Another interesting element is the design of the luxury consumer goods, such as chocolate box, pictured above.

Historical costume film as contemporary politics battlefield. My piece for Calvert Journal about the historical film wars between Russia, Poland and Ukraine since the 1917 revolution. From Eisenstein’s epics Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible to Teutonic Knights to contemporary nationalistic wars in anti-Polish & anti-Russian films made in Eastern Europe.

Historical costume film as contemporary politics battlefield. My piece for Calvert Journal about the historical film wars between Russia, Poland and Ukraine since the 1917 revolution. From Eisenstein’s epics Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible to Teutonic Knights to contemporary nationalistic wars in anti-Polish & anti-Russian films made in Eastern Europe.

Christmas postcards from People’s Poland.

Pre-order Poor but Sexy on amazon (I know, they’re appalling, so maybe wait until your local bookshop will have it for an online order), or simply browse through and through, beginning of every chapter on view.

Pre-order Poor but Sexy on amazon (I know, they’re appalling, so maybe wait until your local bookshop will have it for an online order), or simply browse through and through, beginning of every chapter on view.

The book has an official page and I’m officially an author now. yes!
above , my alternative cover picture, also by Paulina Olowska, Cake (courtesy Metro Pictures). In the end, I chose Kontrola W by this very same painter, her rework of a photo of this Polish punk band..see the very beginning of this tumblr.

The book has an official page and I’m officially an author now. yes!

above , my alternative cover picture, also by Paulina Olowska, Cake (courtesy Metro Pictures). In the end, I chose Kontrola W by this very same painter, her rework of a photo of this Polish punk band..see the very beginning of this tumblr.

It’s nearly here - my book Poor But Sexy. Culture Clashes in Europe East and West is coming out on March 28th 2014 on Zero Books. I will be posting here all events related to this - as well as reviews, articles and other pieces of writing. Book will be probably available before that date on Amazon anyway.

"24 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is as divided as ever. The passengers of the low-budget airlines go east for stag parties, and they go west for work; but the east stays east, and west stays west. Caricatures abound - the Polish plumber in the tabloids, the New Cold War in the broadsheets and the endless search for ‘the new Berlin’ for hipsters.
Sweeping across the breadth of the former Iron Curtain, Agata Pyzik charts the mutual misunderstandings between Western and eastern Europe, going beyond the familiar myths of plucky dissidents, the horrors of Stalinism and the ‘success stories’ of a neoliberal New Europe. Rather than a low-wage hinterland for the affluent west or a picturesque holiday destination, Pyzik finds a rich and unwritten counter-history.
Poor but Sexy ranges from Warsaw to Luton, from Prague to East Berlin, from Ukraine to Romania, in search of the counter-currents and other traditions. Instead, Poor But Sexy peers into the secret histories of Eastern Europe (and its tortured relations with the ‘west’). Eastern European migration, the post-punk Bowiephile obsession with the ‘Eastern Bloc’, Orientalism and ‘self-colonisation’, the emancipatory potentials of Socialist Realism, and the possibility of a non-western idea of modernity and futurism. Its subjects veer from Femen to Depeche Mode, from David Bowie to Nikita Khrushchev, from Socialist Realists to New Romantics.
Refusing both a dewy-eyed Ostalgia for the ‘good old days’ and the equally desperate desire to become a ‘normal part of Europe’, Poor But Sexy reclaims the idea of an Other Europe.”

 
What’s a poor girl to do when worlds collide except listen to gloomy rock ’n’ roll bands and dance precariously along the fault-line of history where the Berlin Wall used to be? Born in Poland in the 1980s, Agata Pyzik is barely old enough to remember life under communism. Watching the waves of Ostalgie spreading across the former GDR and other ex-Warsaw Pakt states, she felt compelled to investigate the underlying causes of disenchantment among increasing numbers of Central Europeans hankering for the certainties guaranteed them under Soviet rule. If she began her mission with a sense of bemused contempt for dewy-eyed sentimentalism distorting people’s memory of what life was really like under communism, her investigations reveal a far more complex picture. Poor But Sexy is a fabulous freefall through 25 years of East-West exchanges predicated on the West’s arrogant assumption that at base everybody wants to buy in to their belief systems. Riding these East-West crosscurrents of desire, envy and wounded pride, she has found much to be proud of amid the ruins of communism, and in the process of looking back she has recovered some extraordinary punk, art, fashion and philosophical alternatives to the Western way ahead.Chris Bohn aka Biba Kopf, editor of The Wire

It’s nearly here - my book Poor But Sexy. Culture Clashes in Europe East and West is coming out on March 28th 2014 on Zero Books. I will be posting here all events related to this - as well as reviews, articles and other pieces of writing. Book will be probably available before that date on Amazon anyway.

"24 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is as divided as ever. The passengers of the low-budget airlines go east for stag parties, and they go west for work; but the east stays east, and west stays west. Caricatures abound - the Polish plumber in the tabloids, the New Cold War in the broadsheets and the endless search for ‘the new Berlin’ for hipsters.
Sweeping across the breadth of the former Iron Curtain, Agata Pyzik charts the mutual misunderstandings between Western and eastern Europe, going beyond the familiar myths of plucky dissidents, the horrors of Stalinism and the ‘success stories’ of a neoliberal New Europe. Rather than a low-wage hinterland for the affluent west or a picturesque holiday destination, Pyzik finds a rich and unwritten counter-history.
Poor but Sexy ranges from Warsaw to Luton, from Prague to East Berlin, from Ukraine to Romania, in search of the counter-currents and other traditions. Instead, Poor But Sexy peers into the secret histories of Eastern Europe (and its tortured relations with the ‘west’). Eastern European migration, the post-punk Bowiephile obsession with the ‘Eastern Bloc’, Orientalism and ‘self-colonisation’, the emancipatory potentials of Socialist Realism, and the possibility of a non-western idea of modernity and futurism. Its subjects veer from Femen to Depeche Mode, from David Bowie to Nikita Khrushchev, from Socialist Realists to New Romantics.
Refusing both a dewy-eyed Ostalgia for the ‘good old days’ and the equally desperate desire to become a ‘normal part of Europe’, Poor But Sexy reclaims the idea of an Other Europe.”
 
What’s a poor girl to do when worlds collide except listen to gloomy rock ’n’ roll bands and dance precariously along the fault-line of history where the Berlin Wall used to be? Born in Poland in the 1980s, Agata Pyzik is barely old enough to remember life under communism. Watching the waves of Ostalgie spreading across the former GDR and other ex-Warsaw Pakt states, she felt compelled to investigate the underlying causes of disenchantment among increasing numbers of Central Europeans hankering for the certainties guaranteed them under Soviet rule. If she began her mission with a sense of bemused contempt for dewy-eyed sentimentalism distorting people’s memory of what life was really like under communism, her investigations reveal a far more complex picture. Poor But Sexy is a fabulous freefall through 25 years of East-West exchanges predicated on the West’s arrogant assumption that at base everybody wants to buy in to their belief systems. Riding these East-West crosscurrents of desire, envy and wounded pride, she has found much to be proud of amid the ruins of communism, and in the process of looking back she has recovered some extraordinary punk, art, fashion and philosophical alternatives to the Western way ahead.

Chris Bohn aka Biba Kopf, editor of The Wire

"Crisis bride" by a Polish popular rock band Lady Pank, which wasn’t particularly punk anyway, yet used some rough-edgedness of it. Here interesting for us, as it uses a footage of a scantily-clad punky girl wandering sheepishly around an early, 80s version of a supermarket - yet note there’s a very small offer there, mostly vinegar, I suppose. "Crisis bride", after all, so don’t expect luxury or highlights, it’s a vinegar, low-budget love, post Martial Law, with nothing attractive to consume, with only a parody of it. the only attarctive thing in this shop is…overemphacised girl’s bum. At the same time it’s implied, that the girl left the song’s narrator and now only sends him Christmas cards from "nowhere". She luckily escaped the crisis, run away to the West, but, according to what he sings, "she’ll never know what she’s truly lost"….