Jan Chwałczyk (1924) is a painter, sculptor, creator of the kinetic installations and mail art. He is a leading representative of the Polish neo-avant-garde. In 1962-1976 he was a member of the Wroclaw Group, and in 1972-1977 he ran the Art of Creative Information Gallery in Wroclaw. An artist interested mainly in the issues of light and colour, and the relationship between the art and science.
Chwałczyk was born in Krosno and studied in the State Higher School for Fine Arts in 1946-1951 in Wroclaw, where he acquired a painting diploma in prof. Eugeniusz Geppert’s laboratory. In the 1950s Chwałczyk created paintings in a manner close to informel, taking an inspiration from nature. In 1955 he took part in the Arsenal Exhibition of Young Fine Artists in Warsaw. From 1957 to 1963 he co-organised the Searching for Form and Colour group, and from 1962 to 1976 – Wroclaw Group. In 1963-1964 he started to practice structural painting, treating the picture as an object, not just a composition. Later he got closer to the kinetic art, starting from the First Biennale of Spatial Forms in Elbląg in 1965, and an Artists’ and Scientists’ Symposium in Puławy one year later.
Since the second half of the 1960s Chwałczyk’s main interests are the light and colour, which was represented on his individual exhibition Portraits and Autoportraits in 1969 in the Under Mona Lisa Gallery ran by Jerzy Lidwiński. Objects created by the artist were reflecting light, falling on different surfaces, and creating various shadows and colours, depending on shape and material. The famous project of the Solar Spectrum Projector – presented by Chwałczyk during the Wroclaw 1970 Symposium – was the concept of a device streaming the solar light in different colours onto certain points of Wroclaw. The same year, during the Artists’, Scientists’ and Art Theoreticians’ Symposium in Osieki, the artist presented another project: the Colourful Configuration of the Spatial Light Transformation, which was supposed to create a portrait of the light in the audience consciousness. Chwałczyk tried to capture the physical features of the light and colour, research their properties as phenomena which enable seeing. Such approach situated him within the op-art stream and on the border of “impossible art”.
In the 1970s Chwałczyk got interested in the influence that art has on the society. He also actively participated in the international net of mail art creators by running in 1972-1977 the Art of Creative Information Gallery – a node in the net of letters’ exchange, artistic prints, and other documents. Chwałczyk initiated the international artistic actions, such as International Artist Cooperation in 1967-1969, Defending the Mental Sphere in 1972-1973, and Counterpoint in 1972-1974. In the frame of the latter one Chwałczyk gathered 68 speeches of the Polish and foreign artists, focusing on the current situation and the future development of art.
Chwałczyk participated in the most important events of the Polish conceptual art: symposiums of the Golden Bunch in Zielona Góra, Biennale of Spatial Forms in Elbląg, symposium in Puławy, outdoor panels in Osieki, as well as the Wroclaw 1970 Visual Arts Symposium, where he coordinated the execution of a project The Unlimited, Vertical Composition of Henryk Stażewski. He also took part in the Biennale in São Paulo in 1981. In 2006 he received the Prize of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, and in 2011 – the Silver Medal for the Meritious for Culture Gloria Artis.
- Wrocław, Poland
Petr Cibulka is a Czech political activist, signatory to Charter 77 and collector of Czechoslovak unofficial music groups recordings from the 1980s. Cibulka was also a member of the “VONS” (Committee for the Defense of Unjustly Prosecuted), whose aim was to monitor and to inform the public about politically motivated lawsuits and repressions against the opposition, non-conforming citizens, etc. in former Czechoslovakia. Until 1989, Cibulka was imprisoned several times for his attitudes and activities, totalling over five years. During the 1980s, Cibulka collected and distributed recordings of music groups. His private collection was probably the largest of its kind in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia. His collection is now stored at the Libri Prohibiti library, an institution dedicated to the collection of samizdat cultural production. After 1989, Cibulka was also known as the publisher of lists of collaborators of the former StB (State Security), also known as the “Cibulka Lists”. Cibulka is still politically active, he is the founder of the political party “Right Block”, he regularly runs for election in governmental institutions and regional elections, and he was also a candidate for the presidential election in 2013.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Ante Ciliga was born in the village Šegotići, near Pula, then in the province Istria, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on February 20, 1898. A journalist, writer, politician, communist dissident and pamphleteer, he was one of the most prominent Croatian emigrant intellectuals. He attended primary school and the classics gymnasium in Mostar, and also in Pazin and Brno. He studied in Križevci, Prag, Vienna and Zagreb, where he obtained a doctorate in philosophy in 1924, and he was the first to defend a dissertation on the theme of Marxism at Zagreb University under the title O socijalno-filozofskom aktivizmu Rudolfa Goldscheida: Kritika i obrana marksizma na području filozofije (On Rudolf Goldscheid's socio-philosophical activism: criticism and defence of Marxism in the field of philosophy).
In 1918, he joined Social Democratic Party of Croatia and Slavonia. Shortly afterward, he became one of the founders of the Yugoslav communist movement. He was in Budapest when the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed in 1919. After the communist fiasco in Hungary, Ciliga left for his native Istria, where he organized an insurrection against Italian authorities in 1921 in an events known as the Proština Revolt. He edited and wrote for Borba, the official publication of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (1923-1925), in which he debated with Serbian communists about the national question in Yugoslavia, advocating a federalist solution. In 1924, he became a member of the Central Committee of the CPY and participated in the Third Congress of the CPY in Vienna in 1926. In the same year, due to persecution because of his illegal party work, he was exiled from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. From there he moved to Moscow, where lectured at the Communist University of the National Minorities of the West and supported Trotsky in his struggle against Stalin. Stalin therefore had him i jailed briefly in Leningrad, and afterward, in 1930, he was sent to the Siberian concentration camps, where was released in 1935 after the Stalin-Mussolini agreement, as he had Italian citizenship. At the 4th Territorial Conference of the CPY in December1934, Ciliga was branded a Trotskyist. He also parted ways with the Trotskyists very soon, but continued to be loyal to socialist ideas. Later, in 1938, he printed his first great work, Au Pays de gran mensonge (In the Land of the Great Lie) in French, which was among the first books to inform the Western world of Stalinist mass terror. At the time, this testimony led to harsh attacks by the Stalinist CPY. After the German occupation of France, in December 1941 he departed for the Independent State of Croatia, where he was interned in the Jasenovac camp because of his suspect communist biography. After his release from the camp, he began working as a journalist for the weekly magazine Spremnost, writing articles about Soviet communism. In the final of 1944, he travelled to Berlin, whence he fled to the West, in the American military zone, before the Soviet army entered Berlin.
After the war, he lived in Paris until 1958, and prior to his return to Croatia in 1990, he lived continually in Rome. In 1954, he published his second well-known work, his memoir Sam kroz Europu u ratu (Through Europe in the War Alone). Although he had abandoned the communist movement, he continued to write about socialist ideas on the basis of democracy and to criticize party dictatorships. The whole time he cooperated with Croatian émigré communities and wrote about the Croatian national question and the general situation in Yugoslavia. He joined the Croatian National Council, which was chaired by émigré Branimir Jelić. In 1960, together with Krunoslav Draganović, Veljko Mašina and Miroslav Varoš, he founded the Croatian Democratic Parliament, which, after the conflict between Ciliga and Varoš, was called Croatian Democratic and Social Action since 1964. After 1958, he issued a bulletin under various names (Bulletin of Croatian National Council, Bulletin of Croatian Democratic and Social Action and On the Threshold of the Future) with short interruptions until 1984. In it, he dealt with the history of the Yugoslav communist movement and critically assessed Tito's regime. As a former member of the communist movement and a dissident who had transitioned into a hard-core anticommunist, he was branded a political enemy of the regime in Yugoslavia. Tito mentioned him in his paper at the Fifth Congress of the CPY in 1948, in the context of the menace represented by the “counter-revolutionary Trotskyism of Ante Ciliga”. After the communists fell from power in 1990, he returned to Croatia, where he was granted an honorary function in the commission drafting the new democratic constitution in December 1990. He died in Zagreb on October 21, 1992 at age of 94.
- Metropolitan City of Rome, Rome, Italy
- Moscow , Russia
- Paris, France
- Zagreb, Croatia
Ion Cioabă was a Roma leader and activist who involved himself in defending the rights of his ethnic group during the communist regime and after its fall in December 1989. He was born on 7 January 1935 in Târgu Cărbunești, Dolj County. During World War II, he and his family were deported to Transnistria. After his safe return to Romania, he became a member of the Workers’ Youth League. During the 1950s he collaborated with local authorities to convince Roma people to give up nomadism and integrate themselves in mainstream society. This brought him prestige among local Roma communities and thus in 1971 he was elected the leader (bulibașa) of the nomad Roma people in Sibiu county and its surroundings. His great influence over Roma groups and his willingness to collaborate with the authorities to settle and “modernise” his nomad peers transformed him into “the best mediator between officials and Gypsies, having the ability to translate the indications or political messages into the Gypsy language, to the values and soul of the Gypsies” (ACNSAS, I 172057 vol. 1, ff. 2 f, 46–49; D 8685, ff. 305–306).
His collaboration with the Romanian secret police, the Securitate, began in 1970–1971. At that time, the Securitate organised a massive operation to collect requests for compensation on the part of those persons (Jews, Roma, Romanians) who had been deported on racial grounds during World War II. This was done in order to reclaim payments from Federal Germany. Ion Cioabă was responsible for collecting the requests of the deported Roma (ACNSAS, D 144 vol. 12, ff. 291–293). His collaboration with the secret police strengthened after his election as a member of the Presidium of the Romani International Union (IRU). He thus began to give full reports about the activity of the IRU and his meetings with its leaders, and about his contacts with other transnational Roma organisations and foreign journalists (ACNSAS, D 8586 ff. 305–306).
Taking advantage of his privileged relations with the Securitate, Ion Cioabă initiated a series of activities in support of the discriminated-against and socially marginalised Roma people in communist Romania. Alone or in collaboration with his protégé Nicolae Gheorghe, he signed memorandums that were presented to the Romanian authorities. These documents described the difficult situation of Roma people and contained a programme of measures to ease their condition through integration into mainstream society (ACNSAS, D 8586, ff. 292–297, 263–265). Moreover, Ion Cioabă joined Nicolae Gheorghe’s endeavour of demonstrating that Roma people had a distinct cultural and ethnic identity and thus deserved to be recognised as a national minority and granted similar rights to other ethnic groups. Consequently, he personally supported the organisation of cultural activities in which the richness of Roma traditions was displayed and used these examples to demonstrate that Roma people were worthy to be integrated as distinct ethnic group in Romanian society (ACNSAS, D 144 vol. 12, ff. 377–379; D 144 vol. 11, ff. 2–3 f–v; D 144 vol. 13, ff. 175–177).
Cioabă also intensely lobbied the Romanian authorities to officially endorse his and Gheorghe’s efforts to get compensation for the deported Roma. The initiative failed as Federal Germany indefinitely postponed the discussion of payment of reparations for deported Roma. At the same time, the Romanian communist regime was not willing to use diplomatic pressure against West Germany as an intervention would certainly have strained its relations with that country (D 144 vol. 12, ff. 252, 253 f–v, 291–293; D 144 vol. 13, ff. 20–21 f–v; I 172057, ff. 4–5 f–v).
After the fall of the communist regime, Cioabă continued his good relations with the Romanian authorities. Thus, in 1990 he was elected a deputy in the first democratic Parliament and obtained compensation for those Roma whose gold coins and jewellery had been confiscated by the former regime. In order to bolster his authority as the leader of Roma people in Romania, in 1992 he self-proclaimed himself “the international king of Roma.” As the files of the former secret police were gradually opened only after the establishment of CNSAS in 1999, his collaboration was never proven during his lifetime. Thus until the end of his life in February 1997, Cioabă managed to maintain a close collaboration with Nicolae Gheorghe, supporting his initiatives to alleviate the difficult situation of Roma people.
- Sibiu, Romania
Silviu Cioată (9 iunie 1931, Ploieşti; d. 20 October 1997, Ploieşti) was a minister of the Christian Evangelical Church of Romania (Biserica Creştină după Evanghelie – one of the Plymouth Brethren Protestant denominations). He graduated Medicine in Cluj in 1956. He signed the open letter of protest against infringements of human rights in Romania relating to religious freedom entitled: The neo-protestant denominations and human rights in Romania, which was addressed to several Western embassies and broadcasted by Radio Free Europe in April 1977. For being involved in this initiative he was arrested and interrogated by the Securitate over a period of six months. From 1981 to 1982, he was involved in a network that smuggled religious literature from the West to Romania for which he spent nine months in prison (Silveșan and Răduț 2014, 63–64).
- Ploiești, Romania