Wojciech Bruszewski: Yyaa (1973)

Masterpieces of modern/contemporary art #12

Jakob Zaaiman
4 min readMar 2, 2022


Wojciech Bruszewski: Gramaphone (artwork) (1981)
Wojciech Bruszewski: Gramaphone (artwork) (1981) (nothing directly to do with the film Yyaa)

(The idea behind this series is to let the individual artworks speak directly to us from their own mysterious realm, rather than interpreting and ‘explaining them away’ in conventional terms.)

Honestly hard to know what to say about this 5 minute short film without spoiling and deflating it in some unintended way.

Scholarly discourse and exegesis is available — a highly detailed book in pdf by Janusz Zagrodzki in Polish and English and free to download — and this study is absolutely the real deal in terms of finding ways to analyse and expound on Yyaa for an audience of serious film students (having to write essays on it, and so forth), but this adds nothing — for me at least — to the essential experience of Yyaa itself. It only manages to downgrade it by turning it into a series of concepts.

There are at least a couple of versions of Yyaa out there, one shorter than the other, but the full and complete version clocks in at 5:17. At first the shorter version (c3:30 mins) seemed to pack more punch, in that it was almost over before you could gather your wits, but on reflection the 5 minute version has the advantage of giving you time to relax into the action, and just at the point where you start to wonder how long it goes on for, it closes itself down. That extra twist of the bewildering knife is just right.

So what’s good about it? Basically it’s a mind-stopper. It grabs hold of a sense of sensicality that you didn’t know you had, and throws it out of the window. It is completely meaningless — as well as beyond possible categories of meaning — while still asking to be taken seriously. It’s not been pitched as humour, which is good because that would weaken its internal cohesion and spoil its ambition to be seen as something intelligible. But intelligible as what? As a slice of life, perhaps. But what on earth kind of a life? The episodic life that Bruszewski…



Jakob Zaaiman

Artist and writer; artworks, prose and poetry.