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"we have never been modern" proposal in “” nr. 88

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ISSN 1730-9409

The exhibition broadens the research of modernity and constitutes a critical review of Polish architecture in the period from the national emancipation prior to the First World War, through the stretch of time between the world wars, the Second World War, Socialism and Cold War, transformation, to the first decade after 2000.
While referring to the title of B. Latour’s book, we are asking a question about the status of subsequent modernizations and importance of their products to our culture. Re-examination of the character and functioning of projects will enable us to once again comprehend them. The purpose of the exhibition is to show how they were built and their current condition. From this perspective, they seem to be the metaphor of modernity’s success as a design trend. They also may enable re-comprehension of ideas which – when taken out of their historical context – become an important source of critical understanding of reality and inspiration for the future.
At the present moment, can modernity be understood through partial designs? Has there been only one modernity? In the twentieth century, the designs that were not realized and other Utopian and imperfect ideas are just as important as the designs which were actually executed. Despite progress of research, the current policy of remembrance causes that Polish modernity is still pervaded by long-established myths.
The exhibition creates a framework comprised of the selected twelve topics to which the examples of designs have been assigned. At the stage of preparations for the Biennale, the participants of the national debate will be encouraged to actively work together to choose other, alternative, unrealized or not developed designs which illustrate the material, social, and political dimension of the Polish architecture in the last 100 years, i.e. the designs and objects which were not executed, were destroyed or transformed in the way that they are no longer significant from the standpoint of exchange of ideas.
Since the debate will touch upon the unknown and unrecognized cases, the purpose of the debate will be also to challenge the argument – which is still prevalent, especially in the Western world – that Polish modernism began later and was secondary to Western modernism. The exhibition is consistent with the tendency to reverse such understanding of our region’s role and the documentation describing it.
The designs will be presented as large-format permanent sgraffito reliefs. Sgraffito will be accompanied by small models of the designs presented, which correspond to that particular fragment of the relief. Beneath the models we will place the binders containing archival information and documentation such as diagrams, pictures and descriptions.
Sgraffito wall decor technique was used in reconstruction of cities after the war and is an appropriate method of presenting the images of the past. It gives the presented designs new aesthetic and symbolic dimension. This technique distinguishes itself from the images presented by the modern media and is consistent with the convention of modernity archeology.

by Piotr Bujas, Simone De Iacobis, Monika Konrad, Małgorzata Kuciewicz

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