PUNKT magazine was an internet quarterly journal in a form of a free PDF file, which was published by Arsenal Municipal Gallery in Poznan between 2010-2015. According to the editors, Punkt was meant to be an autonomous and high-quality fragment of media space for art, visual culture, thought, words and experiencing an urban space. The authors were interested in the context outside academic discourse. They wanted to focus on art with passion, living through and directly experiencing the reality. The authors believed in inspiration instead of originality, personality instead of a trend. By joining the visual arts with the theoretical utterance, the magazine connected criticism with curiosity and imagination with experience.
As part of the first edition of the new RTV Magazine, we decided to ask our predecessors: Anna Czaban and Kuba Bąk about their editorial experience, what they learnt while publishing PUNKT and if they have for us – newly being formed editorial team – some good pieces of advice?
Zofia nierodzińska: What are you doing presently?
Ania Czaban: I am a curator at Ujazowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, where for the past four years I have been responsible for an interdisciplinary project called Jazdów City Garden. It focused on working with the space around the castle. I organise exhibitions, for example, the recently opened in Vilnius and Warsaw exhibition entitled ‘Waiting for Another Coming’. I worked on that project with Jarek Lubiak and Ula Tornau. Presently, I am preparing an individual exhibition of Wojtek Pustoła. It will be opened on the 18th of January. I am also working on plans for 2020. I have some curatorial projects outside the Castle – i.e.: the festival Narrations in Gdańsk (2017), or One Caucasus in Georgia (2016).
Kuba Bąk: I run a publishing house DISASTRA with Marcin Czerkasow. We publish art books. One of the first books we published was called ‘Niebieski Dwór’ by Zuzanna Bartoszek. It was potentially the silliest project ever in terms of marketing: poetry, debuting author, coming from outside the poetry environment. We sold the entire edition. We are intensely working on the coming books. Apart from that, I write about art, sometimes I am curating exhibitions. I also work in a PR agency. I also have a very happy family life.
How and in which moment did you come up with PUNKT magazine’s idea?
KB: As an employee at Arsenal Gallery, I was responsible for the last issue of Painters and Poets magazine. I killed it with the cover by Radek Szlaga where you could see pig’s snout. After many years, I believe that it was the best title-page for that pisser art newspaper you could possibly come up with.
AC: The formula of Painters and Poets magazine exhausted itself: an awkward format, black and white reproductions of artworks, late reviews because the newspaper was published four times a year. The gallery workers did not like it, even the ones who were responsible for it.
KB: The newspaper was so bad that no-one wanted to take it for free in market fairs.
…why as young employees of a gallery, did you decide to stop the Painters and Poets magazine and you started working on a new online magazine? What happened after taking that decision, how the change happened?
AC: PUNKT offered a completely different approach to writing about art. It was a more informal style, non-academic way. To start with, the new formula of the magazine was discussed by Michał Lasota and Kuba Bąk. The graphic design was done by Marcin Matuszak. Michał, at some point, left and I joined the editing team. The team, in general, was changing, in the end, there were three people left: me, Kuba and Marcin.
KB: We assumed that art is not something distant. It is a mass of people who practice it every day. We talked about it, we discussed how to combine things with music and literature. We wanted to talk about art in a way we spoke about it. PUNKT was supposed to be a magazine for passionate people, amateurs, clippers, professionals and non-professionals, for people from various spheres, for those who were interested in art, for those whose field of vision encompassed art. We marked a sign of equality between artists’ utterances and so-called theoreticians.
AC: We decided that the paper format was out. We did not want to publish reviews, that we were interested in visual essays – we called them that way, we meant the visual utterances of the artists. We wanted the artists to have an equal say in the following editions of the magazine. Those postulates, especially, a turn towards the non-academic language and experience of passionate amateurs verified the composition of the editing team. Not everyone liked our ideas, we were not liked by the academics.
There were not that many amateurs publishing in PUNKT. You invited mainly people with a certain level of education…, people already functioning in the art field.
AC: …not all postulates were realised, that is true. Our writers were people with education, true. But they were not only art historians. Let us take into consideration such people as Jacek Staniszewski or Marcin Czerkasow. They did not view the culture and contemporary art in a standard way. We wanted out texts to be accessible, we wanted to write about art in a different way to Obieg magazine, or the already mentioned Painters and Poets Newspaper. We were looking for new, fresh perspectives on culture. The texts and visual essays were accompanied by interviews and portfolio reviews. Your works, Zosia, were also presented.
KB: While inviting people to cooperate with us, we did not check their education. We departed far from the academic pattern. We dipped into the resources in our community, we worked with people we knew and enjoyed the company of. There were many incidental meetings, lucky moments when you would find out that you talked with someone about something else, but this person could do something for PUNKT. Our ideal authors were ‘the non-academical intellectuals’. It wasn’t our aim to search for non-professional, naive creators or amateur theorists at any costs. I don’t know how to call it…
…you could use the term: outsider art, it is a popular term, especially in Poznan
KB: At the time, we didn’t feel a division into outer and inner, it was an everyday existence with art, there was no art world, large institutions. We were not interested in the art market, it did not present any perspective for us. This way or another we neither were insiders nor outsiders.
Where did you find the inspiration? How did you compare yourself with other publishing initiatives in Poland (Obieg, Art Magazine, Format…)? Perhaps, you were looking for points of reference abroad? The magazine form was rather innovative (you joined the visual utterances with interviews and authors opinions in essays, the magazine was bilingual and online).
KB: When it comes to any particular inspirations, you start something by looking at what is available. At the time, Obieg magazine was less and less academic, Adam Mazur and Jakub Banasiak took it over. The magazine becamea society one, later on, it developed into SZUM magazine. Fortnightly magazine did not exist. E-flux journal was a point of reference, perhaps also the Cabinet. Certainly, there was also The Art Magazine, which I read in high school, I grew up reading it. I am sure we took inspiration from all of those magazines, but I don’t remember one main inspiration. We liked very much Piktogram, but we wanted to be more current. We didn’t want to bank on the old Polish art, which you discover from the outside. I am sure we wanted PUNKT to be dedicated to the latest art. It was meant to be an open magazine, for free. It was to give people, not only professionally involved in art, the basics necessary to enjoy the reception of contemporary art. On the other hand, we did nothing to promote it. We were not interested in what is going to happen if anyone will be reading it, or reception at all. We wanted to do something truly attractive.
AC: PUNKT had a PDF form, which you could download for free from a webpage and print in A4. It was something between a printed and internet magazine, it was important for us not to create a webpage with texts. Every edition had its small anthology of texts dedicated to some phenomenon. You could print it at home, but you could also print it in a form of a colour-book – there was an option ‘print on demand’.
Speaking of that, did you have, as it is so nicely called nowadays, some specific ‘promotional strategy’? Who reads PUNKT?
KB: We were free from the promotional thinking. We didn’t have ambitions to set some trends, to promote, to map. We wrote about the things that transpired from our conversations, what we were interested in, what appeared on the horizon… we created the magazine, which we wanted to read and discuss with our friends.
AC: We had a few gadgets. For example, we created bags or notebooks. We organised meetings around the topics discussed in the magazine. I believe we started publishing PUNKT a year later in English. Thanks to that we had readers from outside Poland. We tried to get onto various platforms, for example, , I think, helped us to increase the number of readers abroad, but we still were considered niche publishers. It was ok for us.
What was significant while editing PUNKT?
KB: The emotional engagement. We didn’t want a community magazine such as Obieg. We didn’t want an analytical-professional magazine like The Art Magazine either. We wanted to do something else. It didn’t have to be popular or accessible, but interesting. PUNKT was a curated magazine rather than edited. It was a bit like an exhibition itself. Everything happened within the curatorial collective.
What was the decisive factor behind closing PUNKT’s publishing?
AC: It coincided with Piotr Bernatowicz becoming the director of the gallery. The new director, the new rules of the game. We didn’t want anyone to interfere with the shape of PUNKT. The previous director, Wojciech Makowiecki, gave us the freedom. Kuba and Marcin left Arsenał. Karolina Sikorska left in 2014. I left at the beginning of 2015. Sylwia Czubała, who joined the team towards the end of our work there, also planned to leave the place. As a result of copyrights, which belonged to the institution, we couldn’t just take PUNKT with us. We didn’t want that title to be developed according to a different concept by the new team in the gallery. We decided to close it. The last, 16th edition of PUNKT, was about ending. Bernatowicz didn’t pay for the Internet domain where the magazine was hosted. Marcin Matuszak bought a different domain and transferred the PUNKT’s archive to . You can view there all published issues.
Do you have any piece of advice for the RTV Magazine?
KB: Take it slowly, calmly and with pleasure
translation: Ela Wysakowska-Walters