One of the things that sets Unsound Krakow apart from other festivals is its ambitious daytime program, covering discussions, screenings, workshops, installations and more. Exploring this year’s Solidarity theme, this is entirely free of charge and open to the public. With less than two weeks to go until the festival, it’s time to reveal this week-long feast for the mind.
Artist RICHARD MOSSE will be joined by STEFANOS LEVIDIS of multidisciplinary research group FORENSICS ARCHITECTURE to discuss borders, power and art, a talk taking place alongside Mosse’s already announced installation Incoming. The work of another collective, METAHAVEN, consists of filmmaking, writing, and design, including The Sprawl: Propaganda About Propaganda, which they will revisit in a presentation.
The program will put a spotlight on Poland. Legendary Solidarity opposition activist HENRYKA KRZYWONOS-STRYCHARSKA will tell her personal story in conversation with Krytyka Polityczna’s AGNIESZKA WIŚNIEWSKA, while philosopher and activist EWA MAJEWSKA will give a presentation on how feminist theories and practises provide the toolbox needed in today’s apocalyptic times. KUBA SZREDER will give a talk on the use of art in times of crisis; JAN SOWA will present his research project Solidarity 2.0, invoking practises of radical democracy to envision new forms of collective empowerment; and OLGA DRENDA will discuss duchologia polska, loosely translated as "Polish ghostology”, recovering images of daily life during Poland’s transformation.
London’s NATHALIE OLAH, author of Steal as Much as You Can, will discuss how to build a culture more representative of the majority, while JOHN HIGGS will reference his just-released book The Future Starts Here: Adventures in the Twenty-First Century, offering an optimistic idea on what the future may hold.
Writer and strategist JAY SPRINGETT will give the Unsound audience insight into the ideas of solarpunk, as well as moderate a panel on interspecies solidarity. Author LUKE TURNER will take festivalgoers on a walk in Krakow’s Wolski Forest, exploring a queering of the woodland landscape, and also moderate a discussion on how to respond to the global climate emergency.
Cultural commentator AYISHAT AKANBI will deliver a talk on how to respond rather than react in the digital age, looking at ways to use the Internet to create multiple avenues for empathy, while London author EMMA WARREN will bring to life her book Make Some Space, explaining how we can protect the venues and communities we love by documenting them.
AYESHA HAMEED will present “Black Atlantis”, looking at possible afterlives of the Black Atlantic: in contemporary Mediterranean migration, through Afrofuturistic dancefloors, and in outer space. PAVEL NIAKHAYEU will discuss music, utopia and solidarity focusing on Belarus and other post-Soviet countries. DEFORREST BROWN, JR. will discuss the state of Black representation across the music industry. MAT DRYHURST will talk about “interdependent music,” speculating on different kinds of relationships between artists and their networks.
RYAN ALEXANDER DIDUCK will offer a history of the links between the music industry and the world's biggest beverage brands, while investigative journalist MIKE POWER will look at the new industrialised production of cheaper, stronger drugs, and their impact on ecology as well as electronic music culture.
Panel discussions with artists, activists and writers include: Intersecting Struggles: Solidarity as a Form of Practise, on the ways artistic and solidarity struggles intersect; Music From the Edge, with artists and music industry figures from around the globe sharing knowledge on how to build on interest in artists breaking Western-centric models; and a panel on how counterculture is deeply rooted in the status quo it proclaims to oppose - and how to respond to this.
Resident Advisor will host a discussion Polish clubbing and the LGBT+ community. JOHN DORAN of The Quietus will lead a discussion on Weird Times/Weird Culture, and ANDY BATTAGLIA of ARTnews will engage THE CARETAKER and his visual collaborators painter IVAN SEAL and visual artist WEIRDCORE in a chat, as well as explore cross-cultural collaboration around Nyege Nyege’s Kampala scene by speaking with those involved in the Portugese-Ugandan project HHY & THE KAMPALA UNIT. The Wire magazine will engage MATMOS in an Invisible Jukebox session, asking the Baltimore duo to recognise and comment on records they are played, while ROBERT HENKE will present the ideas and processes behind his new work CBM 8032 AV, which he premieres at Unsound.
Last but not least, a talk on shaping the future of culture in European cities rounds out the discussion program.
Head to our website for more details, including the moderators and participants for discussions.
Apt considering the Solidarity theme, Unsound 2019 also features the biggest workshop program Unsound has ever hosted, many selected from our call for entries. AMY CUTLER will lead a workshop of nature documentary hacking; Polish collective GIRLS TO THE FRONT on zine-making; ANNA MARJANKOWSKA on flexworking in the cultural industries; and ZOSIA HOŁUBOWSKA from ORAMICS will guide a group of participants through speculation into what queer sounds like. Two workshops on music journalism will be run by Resident Advisor editor-in-chief AARON COULTATE and editor WILL LYNCH. Workshops on creating Safer Spaces will be led by the Unsound Mutual Respect team, with one aimed at active promoters and professional party people, and the second open to anyone. AUDINT’s book of essays Unsound:Undead will be explored in two reading groups, the first by Krakow-based research unit ≋H≋O≋M≋A≋R≋, and the second by PAUL PURGAS (Emptyset) and AYESHA HAMEED (Black Atlantis), both of whom contributed essays to the book.
All workshops and reading groups are free, but require you to register in advance. Please head to our website to do so.
Apart from the previously announced installation Incoming by Richard Mosse, exhibitions at Unsound include Cukuwruums, where a number of paintings by IVAN SEAL will be placed in an abandoned apartment in Krakow’s Old Town. The space itself and the items left within it become part of the work, while music by THE CARETAKER will filter into the space from the simplest of sound systems, underlining the relationship between the work of these artists.
Armageddon Shelter in the Shape of a Cigar is a group exhibition by Polish artists, housed in the same building, but this time in an abandoned Bingo Hall, a crumbling relic of post-89 transformation. Curated by Ania Batko and Aleksander Celusta of Henryk Gallery, the exhibition gathers works by some of the most interesting voices of Poland’s younger generation of artists, including KRZYSZTOF GIL, JAKUB GLIŃSKI, MARTYNA KIELESIŃSKA, MARTA KRZEŚLAK and BARTOSZ ZASKÓRSKI.
Other exhibitions include a display of Polish sound postcards from the 60s, 70s and 80s. A local version of flexi discs made during communism when vinyl records were hard to get, the cards are adorned with designs ranging from the weird to the beautiful and primitive. The exhibit is by designer RUI SILVA and Unsound artistic director MAT SCHULZ, who will also perform afternoon Bambino Sound System DJ sets using sound postcards, on communist-era Bambino portable record players.
Anyone who has visited Krakow in recent years has noticed the prevalence of golf carts on the streets, filled with tourists on guided tours. For Unsound 2019, local Jewish arts collective FESTIVALT will take you on a unique critically minded tour in a golf cart exploring “the complications, nuances, and cultural confusion of contemporary Kazimierz”. Expect insight into both the history of Kazimierz and a present afflicted by gentrification, mass tourism and questionable representations of Jewish culture. The Unseen Kazimierz Golfcart Metatour requires tickets, which can be purchased via Going.
As for the Unsound music program, there will be a second presentation of the live score to the TV series Chernobyl, performed by composer HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR, as well as CHRIS WATSON and SAM SLATER. Hildur just won an Emmy Award for this music, and with the first session already sold out, you should act quickly to secure tickets to this site-specific show in an industrial warehouse. It will take place at 3.30pm on Sunday October 13th. For tickets, head to Going, and remember this is not included in the festival pass.
In terms of other music additions, the already expansive Hotel Forum program is finally revealed in its entirety. FOREST SWORDS returns to the festival in a completely new role, taking up on a warm-up DJ duty during Saturday night at the Ballroom, channeling his singular, dubby sound through a selection of eclectic cuts. LOW JACK comes with an exciting sound of mutated dancehall, while DJ ROSA PISTOLA flies in from Mexico with a selection of reggaeton heavy hitters. South Africa’s CITIZEN BOY will present the most recent developments in gqom music. Nervous Horizon’s DJ PLEAD and TSVI will play their first b2b ever, exploring Lebanese wedding music and Sufi practices through drum-obsessed club music.
Joining a host of his already-announced Shanghai friends is another SVBKVLT affiliate: GOOOOOSE. He will play a live set following the release of Rusted Silicon, channelling drum & bass through ambient electronics. Kyiv’s JOHN OBJECT is pushing club music towards a noisy new frontier, while Kraków’s MUKA similarly chaotic expression results with dreamier and more psychedelic results.
Further acts in Forum include ABU ZEINAH, with a live set exploring cosmic electronics and techno, and Gdańsk-based selector and sound artist BENIOVSKA with an experimental DJ set. BABY MEELO presents his own take on footwork and other strains of bass music as well, while Mestiço’s DJ SMAKOWITA PAJDA is known for going full carnival mode, blending percussive sounds from different club scenes. Kraków’s LIBRONT will show a different side of his musical practice, performing a dub set.
That’s not all though, as French bagpipe player ERWAN KERAVEC will also appear at the peak of Friday night fever in the Ballroom!
The 89 club downstairs in Forum will once again showcase the Polish experimental, improv and jazz scene, transforming into The Secret Lodge, with new artists joining the previously announced PIOTR KUREK and MIKOŁAJ TRZASKA with BALÁZS PÁNDI. Synth musician and field recordist MIRT is known for his immersive sound, as witnessed on this year’s great album Greed. POLONKA uses clarinet, percussion and positive organ to find connections between disparate types of traditional music from all over the globe. Drummer WOJTEK KUREK will play a solo percussion show, while saxophone players TOMASZ GADECKI and PAULINA OWCZAREK will be joined by UK noise-jazz outfit SLY & THE FAMILY DRONE for a late night improvised freak out.
Unsound wouldn’t be Unsound anymore without the Sunday opening and closing parties! SCHACKE’s EP Клуб Навсегда—created during a residency in St. Petersburg—was one of the best releases of the summer, combining hard-hitting beats with lighthearted playfulness. The Danish artist will now play live at Unsound. Also performing live is YPY, a Japanese producer using magnetic tapes to achieve a unique and grainy sound for his particular brand of techno. DJ duty belongs to NASTYA MURAVYOVA, a rising star of Kyiv’s techno underground, and Crimea-born FACHEROIA, who has quickly became one of the pillars of Warsaw club scene. Meanwhile, the closing party lineup is rounded out by young Kraków-based DJ and producer SEMPREY, and SELTRON 400—a collaboration between Unsound resident ELTRON and SLG.
The mid-week party thrown together with Room 4 Resistance and Club Chai at Szpitalna 1 also sees new additions to the lineup with OBJECT BLUE, Warsaw-based DJs AVTOMAT - affiliated with the Oramics collective, RRRKRTA of Brutaż, NATALIE SCHCHEPANSKYE EROTIC PLEASURE - the co-owner of the Glamour label, and SATIN DE COMPOSTELA - founder of Lava Festival.
Finally, PHILIP SHERBURNE joins the lineup in Wieliczka Salt Mine, playing an extended ambient set as the audience slowly enters. Please note that there are several hundred people attending this event and only one elevator to take them 125 metres down. By arriving late you risk missing the concerts.
One more surprise comes from our friends at Alchemia, who are throwing a show on the 6th of October. Japanese experimental band KUKANGENDAI will be joined by HUBERT KOSTKIEWICZ of THE KURWS, for an afternoon of minimalist avant-garde improvisation. This event is not included in any of the passes, and tickets are available through the club.
Unfortunately due to reasons beyond our control, 700 BLISS and ANT VIRUS will not be able to make it to Unsound this year.
Tickets to several Unsound concerts are already sold out, and others are on the verge of selling out. Do not delay if you’d like to attend the festival, as tickets to most events will not be available in the festival office or at the door.
Erwan Keravec is supported by the SHAPE Platform. Parts of the day program are presented in collaboration with We Are Europe.