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Nam June Paik: Driving Media at WRO Art Center in Poland
Nam June Paik, Route 66, 1996, kolekcja Petera Kolba, Düsseldorf. Photo:. Peter Kolb.

WROCLAW.- In Poland, Nam June Paik is recognized mostly due to his legend, rather than his works and views. His grand exhibitions, organized in the 1990s, when he was still alive, didn't make it to this part of Europe. The only monographic exhibition organized here took place during the WRO Biennale in 1999, when the NY-based artist and curator Stephen Vitiello presented a comprehensive retrospective of Paik's video works, developed together with the artist. Paik himself was unable to travel to Wrocław due to his illness.

The present exhibition, developed by Paik's student, artist and long time assistant Jochen Saueracker, is the first thorough presentation of the artist, including his installations, video works, graphics and drawings.

The Paik retrospective is the summit of the first year of activity of WRO Art Center, a space for the presentation of contemporary new media art and the reflection on its historical context.

The exhibition's concept is based on the conviction of the exceptionality of Paik's art and attitude, and the prophetic accuracy of his views on culture and society. Even today, after the artist's death, his grand work is a constant reference point and a source of inspiration for artists of all generations, and his notion of Electronic Superhighway, introduced in 1974, has played a major part in the realization of the needs of the coming age.

The works gathered in the exhibition originate from various collections and represent all the periods of Paik's intensive artistic activity. The lesser known graphics, drawings and sketches on paper, juxtaposed with media works: installations and tapes, make it possible to present a genuinely intermedial artistic way of the "Pope of video art". The exhibition is supplemented by unique recordings of Paik's actions, including those made by the German broadcaster WDR which took part in the artist's activities since the 1970s, and biographical documents from the Electronic Art Intermix collection, New York.

The first part of the exhibition, devoted to the 60s and 70s, focuses on the performance art. It includes such exhibits as performance recordings, photo documentation, original writings and music notations, as well as biographical documents. The 70s and 80s are represented by (already classical) silkscreens and heliogravures and experimental videotapes Edited for Television and Guadalcanal Requiem, as well as the experiment with satellite transmission, the artist's performance at documenta 7. The latter works from 80s and 90s include attractive video sculptures Route 66 and Mercury, a sculpture Dharma Wheel Turns, and prints from the Evolution, Revolution, Resolution cycle.

Nam June Paik (1932-2006).
Composer, performer, an outstanding artist and visionary, who introduced electronic media into contemporary art. Author of first video works, interactive installations, video sculptures and media objects, juxtaposing popular culture with philosophy and the strategies of mass media. Born in Seoul, studied philosophy, art history and music theory in Tokyo. He continued his music studies in Munich and Freiburg. In 1958-1963 he lived and worked in Cologne, in the contemporary european avant-garde circles, which is the date of creation of his first famous compositions, his musical actionism performances, an intensive collaboration with the Fluxus movement, and experiments with television. His first exhibition, Exposition of Music - Electronic Television (1963), presenting prepared television sets, has become the historical date of birth of media art.

In 1964, Paik moved to New York, where, together with cellist Charlotte Moorman, he initiated a series of performances joining video, interaction and music. During this period, Paik was also dealing with the technological capabilities of TV and video. Together with engineer Shuya Abe, he developed an electronic image synthesizer in the laboratories of New York TV broadcaster WNET.

His first retrospective exhibition took place in 1976 in Kunstverein, Cologne. Throughout the following years, Paik joined important artistic events, including a satellite broadcast at documenta 6 (1977) together with Joseph Beuys and Douglas Davies, the first artistic project to make use of transatlantic satellite communication. In 1978, Paik became Europe's first video art lecturer at Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts and in 1987 he was invited to become a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts. Together with Hans Haake he received the gold medal for the presentation in the German Pavilion at Venice Biennale, 1993. He collected numerous awards from such institutions as the Guggenheim Museum, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Film Institute and the Picasso Medal from UNESCO. His individual exhibitions took place in the most important galleries and museums, and his works became a part of many splendid collections around the

In 1999, the influential American artistic magazine ARTnews, recognized him as one of the 25 most influential artists of the century.

Nam June Paik died in Miami on January 29, 2006.

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