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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Warsaw. Elektra – reading room at the Mazowieckie Institute of Culture. Vinyl records, comics, albums

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Hundreds of vinyl records, comic books and art albums on the shelves. Next to it there are comfortable armchairs, turntables with headphones, desks on the mezzanine, and stylish posters on the walls. In the renovated building of the Mazowiecki Institute of Culture at Elektoralna Street, a reading room for Elektra words and sounds was created.

As the originators themselves say, Elektra is a “temple of analogue culture”, a place that “combines the functions of a literary salon with the atmosphere of an independent record store”. And they were inspired by the collection of records from the library that used to function here. – It turned out that the library also rented vinyl records. We inherited a diverse set of speeches by Lenin or songs in honor of the party, but also Polish jazz, entertainment music such as Skaldowie or Grechuta or Polish poets reciting their poems – said Aleksandar Ćirlić, one of the hosts of the new space, during the meeting with journalists.

But Elektra is not a vinyl scrap warehouse, because its creators selected the inheritance, but most of all they went shopping. Thanks to the cooperation with labels, it was possible to build a solid collection of albums with music of various genres. – Alternative, punk, reggae, funk, jazz, grunge, some metal, we also have a whole bookcase devoted exclusively to Polish music – enumerated Ćirlić. And he added: – We are still working on the online catalog, but the CDs are placed on the shelves divided into genre categories

So there are old, new and new releases of old ones. Everyone can listen, from Monday to Friday, from 12.00 to 19.00 – The “procedure” looks like this: we come to Elektra, pour ourselves a cup of coffee or tea, go to the shelf, select a CD, inform the staff that it has been taken, sit at one of the three gramophone stations, we relax and listen to records. Each turntable has an instruction manual so that even a novice can enjoy the music – said the employee of MIK.

Plates under special supervision

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There are exceptions to the rule of free access to collections – the white ravens of phonography are stored in a special way. These are shellac records, produced before cheaper, more durable and more capacious vinyl discs became popular. Today they are a collector’s cymes, and because they break easily, they must be under special supervision so that they can last as long as possible. Hidden in wooden boxes, in a cupboard, there are also rare vinyls under lock and key. – We have a collection of testpresses, i.e. test discs that are created before the title is released to the market. Usually two or three are formed, no more than five. We have a press test of the first album of Kult. Imagine the first copy of the first album of Kazik Staszewski’s band – revealed Aleksander Ćirlić. As proof, he took out the disc, but it is in vain to look for the characteristic red inscription “Kult”, which was on the cover of the group’s debut. There is only the stamp “PATTERN PLATE for official use only”.

There are also plans to create a discussion club where, as in the old days, music lovers will listen to CDs from audiophile equipment and then discuss them endlessly.

Elektra is sounds, but also a word – the source of the name of the reading room was the label with that name, which launched artists such as Stooges, The Doors or MC5, as well as the mythological daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra of the same name. That is why there will also be a reading room at Elektoralna Street, specifically profiled. – We inherited the collection from the library, but we are also collecting new books: albums, art books, collector’s publications, graphic novels and contemporary poetry – said Monika Rejtnej, who takes care of Elektra’s paper resources. The comic book collection attracts attention, in its most ambitious form, namely the graphic novel. Their expenditures are usually low, and the prices are high, here you can catch up for free.

Weekend opening of Elektra

An extension of the musical and literary character of this place will also be the program of “live” events this weekend and beyond. – On Friday, there will be a concert of the Sambor Dudziński trio, which will create a multimedia project for us “Norwid Nawinylu”. The performance will be a vinyl record. This event was prepared especially for the opening of Elektra, completely new music created for Norwid’s texts (by the decision of the Sejm, 2021 is the year of Cyprian Kamil Norwid – ed.) – announced Rejtna.

On Saturday, they will play Juzugu (ambient improvisation for electronics, guitar and voice), ŻAL (electronic-vocal-guitar duo) and Morświn, a new band of the poet and vocalist Marcin Świetlicki. The opening event will be crowned by the Sunday “concert for turntables, phonographs and other adapters” – a show of the oldest devices reproducing music. They will be the heroes of the evening, the musicians’ performances are not planned. Admission is free, tickets can be collected at the MIK box office. Both on Saturday and Sunday, in the main hall, there will be a record exchange and a small publisher fair, during which you will be able to supplement your vinyl and compact collection (10 am – 5 pm).

Literary festival, concerts and performances

During the Wednesday conference, the institution’s further plans were also discussed. Its director Magdalena Ulejczyk admitted that the new Persona literary festival is of particular importance to her. – It grew out of my disagreement with the fact that in Poland one can pass as a well-read person without reading women. I was terrified by the statistics that 90 percent of school readings were books written by men. We want to contribute to changing this state of affairs. The heroine of the first edition of the festival will be the poet Julia Hartwig. For 10 days, starting on October 14, we will talk to young poets, journalists for whom Julia Hartwig is an inspiration, as well as her friends, announced the director of the Mazowieckie Institute of Culture. And on September 10, the first poetry slam will take place.

– Young artists are an important target group that we want to support. Hence the two new cycles. Open Sound – a scene of young singers that started before the summer holidays with Ifi Ude’s concert. And on September 13 we invite you to a concert by Bovska. The second music cycle for the young generation is Space Of Jazz. I do not hide that jazz will be an important trend for us. Last year, Wojtek Mazolewski, Kuba Więcek with Paulina Przybysz and EABS performed as part of it – recalled Ulejczyk. But those concerts, due to pandemic restrictions, were only online. Playing playing for the “analog” audience will return in mid-October. Earlier, the Mazowiecki Theater will also resume its activity (on the poster, among others, “Małe Zbrodnie Małżeńskie”).

Main photo source: Jakub Pełka / MIK

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