PARADE - Working Group Polish research visit
Five of us went on a brilliantly organized research trip to Warsaw and Poznan, Kuba Szreder did the organization, and we were generously supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Sunday 10th May
We arrive in the evening and stay at the Novotel, with stunning views of the Place of Culture
Monday 11th May
We walked the 'new' urban developments, the new living / working / leisure spaces of the gated communities in Nowy Wilanow and Marina Mokotow - as examples of the neoliberal constitution of public space with Dr Maciej Gdula, sociologist from Krytyka Polityczna.
We meet curator Joanna Warsza who describes her projects in the Stadion, visit a Pagoda, stroll through the remnants of the Jarmark Europa - the biggest bazaar in Warsaw, which skirts the Stadion/sports stadium (being renovated for euro 2012) and have the best Vietnamese pho we have ever eaten. Then we walk in the Praga district - traditionally a working class area, a scarred and derelict district of Warsaw now going through gentrification. And in the evening supper in Kuba's home, where we met Joanna Rajkowska, Agnieszka Kurant, Jakub Szczsny, Bogna Swiatkowska and many others.........!
Tuesday 12th May
Tuesday morning & evening
We stroll along Nowy Swiat to the old town - Stare Miasto, and discuss the film-set eariness of the painstaking reconstruction. Then meet Kuba at the Palm Tree rondo of Al. Jerozolimskie, walk to Bogna Swiatkowska's shop/gallery/publishing house/design bureau/library/um..., and then on to meet Folke Kobberling at the Centre of Contemporary Art at Ujazdowskie Castle. Taxi to Pulawska to meet with Dr Ewa Majewska - feminist and social philosopher - to stroll down Dolna Street to experience the ways in which public space is controlled, and the means of excluding and disciplining the Other (particularly woman, migrants etc.). We skip the chance of hearing Slavo Zizek lecture at Warsaw University, for dinner and discussion in a magnificent unreconstructed 70's restaurant - complete with toilet lady, basketry ceiling and perfunctory ;-) service. Food was good though!
Wednesday 13th May
Wednesday morning & evening
A long, stunning and emotional walking tour in former Warsaw ghetto with Ela Janicka - literature critic and theoretician of culture with focus on Polish/Jewish relations, the constitution of Warsaw public space connected with rejecting the memory of Jewish presence in Poland. At the end of the tour, at the Jewish Ghetto Monument we meet Adam Ostolski from Krytyka Polityczna, who gave a brilliant talk on the 'renovation' of collective memory as public space. Exhausted, we still managed to eat Lebanese food, listen to a presentation from Jakub Szczsny from Centrala, then Natalia Romik (working in architecture office Nizio Design) on the renovation of former synagogue in Chmielnik, and have a lively discussion.
Thursday 14th May
We caught the train from Warsaw Centralna to Poznan, dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out to the Botanical Gardens to sit in on a symposium on Art - Cultural Capital and the Polish City. We were late for the first afternoon session, so we sat in the shade of a tree and had a lively discussion about public services - particularly what might be the minimum provision. We thought about fresh water, and what to do with human waste. How to make the provision of these resources, which we tend to take for granted, palpable in Parade?
Thursday afternoon & Evening
We join the symposium and listened to some papers (translated simultaneously by Ewelina) on Museums and small cities and photographs of re-purposed synagogues. There was a bus tour into Poznan with live art events at various public venues, then an exhibition opening in a disused publishing house, and then we all had dinner in a famous meat and dumpling restaurant.
Friday 15th May
We skip the symposium to wander in the beautiful market square of Poznan. We also visit the award-winning Stary Bower Shopping Centre. According to Poznan in your pocket this art, leisure and shopping extravaganza was originally home to the Huggera Brewery. In 1918, the factory produced 72,000 hectaliters of beer. It remained open through the German occupation, closing temporarily in 1944 to serve as a bunker. The factory finally stopped brewing beer in 1980 but continued bottling water until 1998, when it was purchase by Fortis group for US$ 66 million. Today this 100000m2 shoppers paradise draws around 40,000 people daily. Chic cafes, luxurious boutiques and comparable art: an impressive plan combines new and old build and earned Stary Bower recognition as the world's best shopping centre in the 'new centre medium' category. And the place is clean, spotless. We watched Polish cleaners polish various surfaces. (Michaela was convinced they were performers--a Beecroft, perhaps.) One even approached us, bent down and picked up a tiny bit of dirt off the floor by my feet. Perhaps it came from the gorgeous green park next door? North American shopping centres are almost always surrounded by parks of a different kind: car parks. It was lovely to sit on the grass next to Stary and brainstorm the roof structure for Parade.
We headed back to Hotel Rzymski, grabbed our bags and headed to the airport.
Return to Parade