Summary

T12560 consists of two cardboard cylinders, painted black and positioned at opposite ends of a rectangle of hardboard, which has also been painted black. The cylinders are positioned on their sides and each is secured in place by a long nail. The left hand cylinder is labelled with a white adhesive letter A on the board in front of it, and it has a length of coarse string wrapped around it twice, so that it resembles a spool. The string extends several centimetres towards the other cylinder. The right hand cylinder is labelled with a white adhesive letter B; a short length of string, fixed to the top of the cylinder as if unwound from it, extends towards spool A. Both of the ends are stuck to the board, and have been painted red.

T12560 is closely related to T12567, which also features a spool of string. However, in T12567, there is only one spool, whereas in T12560, the two spools A and B suggest two fixed points, between which a kind of conceptual energy might form, as in a circuit. This impression is enhanced by the red paint applied at the points of rupture, at the ends of the string. The single spool in T12567 also has red paint at the point of rupture, but as this end is positioned at the extremity of the board, it suggests a relation to something outside of the work, and not an internal circuit, as in T12560. The idea of unravelling, communicated by the use of string, wire and spools or rollers, is a common motif in Krasinski’s work. Krasinski produced several large rollers or spools with blue rubber cord wrapped around them, and the letters A, B or C printed on their sides (reproduced in Polit, p.41), and his Dévidoir 1970 (in English Reel), features a large industrial spool with thick electric cable wrapped around it (reproduced in Polit, pp.165–8). The unravelling of an unknown length of string has a clear conceptual relationship to Krasinski’s trademark strip of blue Scotch tape, which he used in his installations, and which he also defined as ‘length unknown’ (quoted in Kiessler and Mytkowska, p.83).

Born in Łuck in the Ukraine, Krasinski studied Applied Arts and Fine Arts in Krakow, and began his career in the 1960s as a surrealist painter. In the early 1970s, he moved into Henryk Stazewski’s studio where they lived together, and remained there after Stazewski’s death in 1988. In 1966, Krasinski was one of the founders of the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw, which acted as a focal point for experimental conceptual artists. He participated in the first happening in Warsaw in 1965, initiated by the artist and theatre director Tadeusz Cantor (1915–90), and later played the role of conductor in Cantor’s Panoramic Sea Happening 1967 at Łazy, near Osieki. He began using blue tape in his actions, installations and photo-based works from 1968, often working with the photographer Eustachy Kossakowski (1925–2001). In 1970, he applied tape to the walls of the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the windows of Rive Gauche galleries. He met Daniel Buren (born 1938) on that occasion, and the two artists remained friends. There is a strong conceptual likeness between the two artists’ work, as both use unchanging and potentially infinite stripes to challenge the definition of art and ways of looking at art (see Buren’s work T12316, One of the Possibilities 1973). Krasinski described the ambivalent and challenging meaning of his use of the blue tape, which became his signature mark: ‘Blue Scotch Tape, 19mm wide, length unknown. I place it horizontally at a height of 130cm everywhere and on everything. I encompass everything with it and go everywhere. This is art, or is it? Yet one thing is certain: blue Scotch Tape, 19mm wide, length unknown.’ (Quoted in Kiessler and Mytkowska, p.83.)

Further reading:
Lena Kiessler and Joanna Mytkowska (eds.), Edward Krasinski: Interwencja, Warsaw 2001.
Sabine Breitwieser (ed.), Edward Krasinski: Les Mises en Scène, Vienna 2006.
Paweł Polit (ed.), Edward Krasinski: Elementarz/ABC, Krakow 2008.

Elizaveta Butakova
March 2010

Supported by the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange in collaboration with the Courtauld Institute of Art.