Peter Vronsky

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Peter Vronsky (Peter Wronski) created numerous formal art works consisting of sculptural video installations and video-art tapes.  His works were exhibited both in Canada and internationally.

In 1983, Vronsky was appointed Artist-In-Residence at Sony Corporation.  There, in their Video/Culture program, he experimented with Sony's prototype high-end effects systems, high definition video, computer graphics, and interactive laser discs.

Some of the many venues in which Vronsky exhibited are:

Flavio Belli Gallery, Toronto
Aspace, Toronto
Rivoli, Toronto
Ontario Art Gallery (Group Show)
Canada House Gallery, London UK
Video Roma, Rome
White Water Gallery, North Bay, Ontario
Toxic-Plan 9, Toronto
The Kitchen, New York
Georges Pompidou Art Museum (Group Show),  Paris
Video-Video, Toronto International Film Festival
Niagra Artist Co-Operative, St. Chatherines, Ontario
Video/Culture International, Tokyo
World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam
Plug-In Gallery, Winnipeg

Canadian author and art critic John Bentley Mays writes that Vronsky's art "manages to slam us into a confrontation with our boredom and hunger for distraction, and with our need for the world to remain violent and interesting."

(Globe & Mail, January 22, 1982)

55 minutes - video - 1980 

Vronsky's emergence as a video artist was the result of a network television project gone horribly wrong: a 1980-81 undercover assignment to film inside  KKK activities in Toronto.  Vronsky assembled video material never broadcast, producing a videotape entitled  REICHLAND which was shown in parallel art galleries and video festivals across Canada and Europe.

40 minutes - video - 1981

Taping live unedited satellite feeds during the day from the scene of Egyptian President Sadat's assassination in Cairo in October 1981, Wronski tracked them to their eventual "packaging" in the evening network news programs later that same day. 

The Toronto Star said of the work:

"Everyone who works for TV news should see the brilliantly edited installation and discover how clichéd and comical all the major newscasters of our time really seem when portrayed in this wickedly witty and manipulative manner."
(Toronto Star - January 16, 1982)

45 minutes - video - 1982

During massive anti-nuclear demonstrations in New York City in June 1982, Vronsky followed and videotaped TV news crews at work on the streets of the city and then taped their network edited footage as it was broadcast hours later.  The combination of Vronsky's unedited footage and the edited network footage of the same events  show that while it is true, the camera never lies, the pictures it takes, often do.



 Egyptian Television Film 
Flavio Belli Gallery, Toronto 
 January-February 1982 

It's Only A City, Darling, They Call New York 
 British/Canadian Video Exchange'84 
 Canada House Gallery, London 
 March 1984 

30 minutes - video - 1983

A chance encounter with a group of Vietnam war veterans lobbying the American Psychiatric Association during the annual convention in a Toronto hotel, led to the making of this video.  The veterans were seeking the psychiatrists' recognition of  PTSD -- Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or "Flashback Syndrome" as a certified psychiatric disorder.  Vronsky's video was one of the first to describe what was then mostly an unknown disorder.  The video documents the unique circumstances leading to the development of PTSD among some former Vietnam War  combatants and visualizes what a PTSD episode might feel like for the sufferer.

WAR CAN BE LIKE THIS is described by Vronsky as "television art" as opposed to video art.  His position was representative of divisions in the video art community at the time between those who believed that video art should remain a formal art form for gallery viewing with academic critical criteria and those artists who believed that video art can be popular and broadcast on television to wider audiences and should not be necessarily limited by formal art criteria.  

Vronsky's willingness to broadcast his art and work with Sony Corporation led to his being accused of "selling out" to which he would respond with a slogan coined by Canadian art group General Idea:   "You cannot  sell out until you are out of stock."

An extract from WAR CAN BE LIKE THIS can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

RealVideo 56k modem
RealVideo  Broadband 

The issue of "television art" has over the decades become a mute one in the face of extraordinary corporate centralization of the television industry during the 1990's.  The ability to stream video on the Internet has also opened a new mass-medium system for artists to netcast their works in a way not possible in previous decades.

In the second half of the 1980's, Vronsky returned to television, first working in the Rome Bureau of CNN, and later producing his own documentaries on art and culture in the collapsing USSR.

He is currently completing his Ph.D. in history at the University of Toronto.  His first book, Serial Killers:  The Method and Madness of Monsters is scheduled to be published by Penguin Group/Berkley Books  in New York in October 2004.  Vronsky is working on his next book, American Extreme:  Insurrection, Terror and Conspiracy in the USA Since 1945.