Decentring Surrealism: Notes from Interwar Poland

  • 5pm - 5.45pm

  • Online

Due to copyright restrictions these are internal Edinburgh University talks. Sign-up links will be circulated in due course. If you are a student or member of staff in a part of the University other than Edinburgh College of Art, you can sign up to attend the talks by emailing Paulina Caro Troncoso at

Karolina Koczynska (University of Edinburgh)

The artworks of the Polish-Jewish artist Henryk Streng /Marek Wlodarski (1903-1960) provide a unique example of surrealist expression taking place on the periphery of the European avant-garde. This ‘other’ perspective has the potential to offer a powerful critique of the surrealist canon and the homogenizing tendencies of the art historical discourse on surrealism.

Despite scholarly efforts at ‘globalizing’ surrealism, substantial, consistent, and critical analysis from the perspective of the movement’s peripheries has yet to be accomplished. This is because efforts at ‘globalizing’ surrealism run the risk of erasing local difference and thereby overlooking meaningful inequalities.

By investigating Włodarski’s drawings made between 1929 and 1930 within their local context and indigenous sources, this talk will explore possible ways of decentring surrealism and thinking about it outside the longstanding Parisian narrative.


Karolina Koczynska is a fourth-year PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh researching surrealism, modernism, and myth in interwar Poland. Her interdisciplinary project focuses on the Lviv-based avant-garde group 'artes', examining how their interest in the 'mythologizing of reality' sought out radically new ways of making meaning while functioning as a mode of resistance against oppressive forces in interwar Poland.