14.05.2014 18:00-21:00
Agata Pyzik book launch

An evening of readings and discussion to launch Agata Pyzik's new book 'Poor but Sexy: Culture Clashes in Europe East and West' published by Zero. Join us in the 1st floor common room at Islington Mill between 6 and 9pm. Free Entry.

"24 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is as divided as ever. The passeng...ers of the low-budget airlines go east for stag parties, and they go West for work; but the East stays East, and West stays West. Caricatures abound - the Polish plumber in the tabloids, the New Cold War in the broadsheets and the endless search for 'the new Berlin' for hipsters. Against the stereotypes, Agata Pyzik peers behind the curtain to take a look at the secret histories of Eastern Europe (and its tortured relations with the 'West'). Neoliberalism and mass migration, post-punk and the Bowiephile obsession with the Eastern Bloc, Orientalism and 'self-colonisation', the emancipatory potentials of Socialist Realism, the possibility of a non-Western idea of modernity and futurism, and the place of Eastern Europe in any current revival of 'the idea of communism' – all are much more complex and surprising than they appear. Poor But Sexy refuses both a dewy-eyed Ostalgia for the 'good old days' and the equally desperate desire to become a 'normal part of Europe', reclaiming instead the idea an Other Europe."


What’s a poor girl to do when worlds collide except listen to gloomy rock ’n’ roll bands and dance precariously along the fault-line of history where the Berlin Wall used to be? Born in Poland in the 1980s, Agata Pyzik is barely old enough to remember life under communism. Watching the waves of Ostalgie spreading across the former GDR and other ex-Warsaw Pakt states, she felt compelled to investigate the underlying causes of disenchantment among increasing numbers of Central Europeans hankering for the certainties guaranteed them under Soviet rule. If she began her mission with a sense of bemused contempt for dewy-eyed sentimentalism distorting people’s memory of what life was really like under communism, her investigations reveal a far more complex picture. Poor But Sexy is a fabulous freefall through 25 years of East-West exchanges predicated on the West’s arrogant assumption that at base everybody wants to buy in to their belief systems. Riding these East-West crosscurrents of desire, envy and wounded pride, she has found much to be proud of amid the ruins of communism, and in the process of looking back she has recovered some extraordinary punk, art, fashion and philosophical alternatives to the Western way ahead. ~ Chris Bohn aka Biba Kopf, editor of The Wire.

Following Agata's talk will be a screening of Andrzej Zulawski's peculiar and somewhat overlooked POSSESSION (1981).


Agata Pyzik is a writer and journalist based between Warsaw and London, whose analysis and commentary on culture and current affairs has appeared in various Polish and British magazines and journals.

Below is a range of links (in order) to YouTube context shown during the talk:

WFFiD ''Oto Ameryka"
Krzysztof Komeda - Cherry ["Knife in the water" OST, 1962]
Dom (1958) part 1 of 2.avi
Czesław Niemen & Niebiesko Czarni - Ciuciubabka
Depeche Mode - People Are People (Remastered Video)
Kraftwerk - Trans Europa Express
The Style Council - Walls Come Tumbling Down!
Kapitan Nemo - Wideonarkomania