Opening 17.09 at 6 p.m
Curator: Agnieszka Wolodzko

The exhibition will concern the habitat as a phenomenon, which determines life of the individual.

A damage of the WWII generated the ‘zero space’, in which it was easy to introduce the modern revolution in the sphere of urban planning. On the Eastern side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ ideas, leftist in their assumptions, were willingly taken up by communistic authorities to realize purposes of social engineering. Moreover, in time of the dramatic shortage of apartments, reasons of economy caused adverse circumstances for industrially produced large scale tower blocks (projects of them often resulted  from a radical reduction of modern paradigms). Regulated by the state policy, authoritarily introduced, they became the only obligatory model of the living space for the generation, who lived in the 2nd half of the 20. century. Such assumptions as: 1/ needs of the man can be standardized; 2/ it is enough to rise a level of the hygiene of a place, in which the man lives to solve his basic existential problems; 3/ the modern man will satisfy his mental needs in the public space and not in the retreat of an own apartment, in a family circle caused that little flats were built with a very limited privacy and instead large squares, playgrounds, sport halls and theatre-cinema halls were proposed. Such policy brought about a fact that life of inhabitants of tower blocks was put to the everyday inconvenience.

The experience of the last several years  arises a reflection that there is no fixed paradigm of the city. Political and economical changes in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989, the opening of the free market economy brought about a formation of a new (in this part of Europe) model of the contemporary city – so called ‘insular city plan’, which relieves from planning the city as the entirety and confines itself to a development of small areas resembling islands, designed with growing perfection, while other parts of the city vanish from the field of interest. A rapid development of the private market of flat building bore fruits in form of the abandonment of tower blocks estates by this part of their so far dwellers, who created the new social class – of private businessmen. Their fast growing affluence allowed them for the realization of a dream characteristic for this generation: about possession of an own house with a garden. Rows of identical houses, surrounded by straight mowed lawns (so called ‘American dream housing model’) became characteristic for the suburban satellite districts. There are also other resolutions like modern small dwelling estates of a high standard, equipped with recreation areas, underground parking places, security systems, often gated – so called ‘gated communities’. In this situation the estates of tower buildings became ‘urban ghettos’, in which only those ones stay, for whom improving life conditions is beyond the means. At the same time green areas shrink or are liquidated on these areas - so far their biggest advantages. Their value is now estimated not from a point of view of their social assets, but calculated according to its market value. In accordance with these criterions functioning of these areas as places for free usage by dwellers of the estate seems to be groundless. This is why authorities usually with no hesitation drastically limit their  size or mean them for sale. In this way sports grounds, play grounds disappear and shopping malls or private buildings arise on their place. Former kilns, social clubs are rented out to anybody, who is ready to pay rent for them. And so real estates of this type become places, where one can only find the modest accommodation but is unable to satisfy needs higher that these most simple ones.

The exhibition is an attempt to pose a question once again about the living space: what it means to us; along with what kind of value system we shape it; how a relation to it takes turns under the influence of the global change in spheres of the politics, the economy or the climate. If we question the ideas of modernists, where we can search for ideas that can be proposals worth of being taken under the consideration in our time? We plan that the exhibition will be a platform to present international artists and architects, who work on creating alternative concepts of human habitat.

Born in Poland, presently living in Montreal, Canada, artist Ana Rewakowicz will present two her projects related to the nomadic model of life, uncertainty as a notion characteristic for our time. Her project “SleepingBagDress Prototype2” consists of  a multipurpose kimono-dress that when inflated changes into a cylindrical container inhabitable by one or two people. The project was presented in Mexico City, Brussels, Toulouse, Tallinn and as part of the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA 2004). During the exhibition we will present the object itself as well as the video documentation from actions realised with the use of it. “SR-Hab” will be the next project of the same artist, which we will show during the exhibition. It is a mobile prototype habitat attached to a bike. Its user will use the energy produced by sun or own work (pedaling).Now the artist works on this project in a collaboration with students of Mechanical Engineering Department of Mcgill University.

The city as a resource is a problem, on which a couple of German artists - Folke Koebberling&Martin Kaltwasser - concentrates. Their activities include installations, exhibitions and interventions in the city space, through which they try to question the city life in a context of the privatization and economization. On the exhibition a video recording is presented, documenting the project Hybridraum. Seven instructions for the city of today. It was made by artists in 2006-2007. It consisted in the implementation of a number of actions realized in the public space of Berlin’s district Hansaviertel. These actions were an attempt to adapt concepts developed by modernists in the 1960s, to our times. They indicate the potential, which is the public space in the lives of residents.

A project of American architectonic studio Jones, Partners: Architecture - “Pro/Con Package Housing System” is a proposal of an alternative architectonic resolution that depend on the adaptation of second-hand and after-market containers. The containers can be stacked or minimized to respond to specific conditions, site contingencies, or to respond the changing needs of clients – challenging the impulse towards small mansions or wasteful schemes that seem to characterize so much suburban development these days. The system enables customers to build up their dwellings from a collection of individual fully outfitted containers that include kitchens, bathrooms, rooms of various functions. Ordered on-line, shipped to the site, are assembled to the homeowner’s specification.

One of the best Polish architect studios, KWK PROMES, will present his project “standard hOuse” realised in 2009. Thanks to its round shape it is suitable for any plot. It is addressed to people, who look for a modern dwelling, which, at the same time, is built with a use of traditional materials. The “standard hOuse” is economical and, on the other hand, it satisfies all needs related to the comfort and safety of persons, who live in it. Its energy economy, very close to the idea of the passive architecture, was achieved thanks to its specific shape (a cylinder), an application of the mechanical ventilation with the retrieval of the heat (the recuperation) and to the system of warming up the water with a use of the solar energy. During the exhibition, we shall present a model of the house built in Pszczyna and a documentary film, which was produced on it, directed by Tomasz Baron. On the day of the opening a lecture of Robert Konieczny will take place.

Finnish artist Jan-Erik Andersson will present an idea of his project “Life on a Leaf”. Realised in a collaboration with the architect Erkki Pitkäranta in 2009, the project explored the possibility of building an individual  house on a plan of a leaf. It is a total work of art that fulfils functions of necessary for the life of dwellers and that, in the same time is a sculpture, lavishly embellished with ornaments. Its aesthetics is inspired by stories and links to the idea, coming from Art Nouveau, of a house as a shelter for a soul in an opposition of the concept of the house-machine.

A couple of Finnish artists Lea and Pekka Kantonen will present a multimedia installation “Studio Entrance Hall”, which results from a complex project, on which they have worked since 2008 and which has been a reflection on the living space. The title entrance hall is a symbolic place, where, according to the artists, events important for an interaction between intimates as well as between intimates and guests take place. For the artists, the idea of the entrance hall became a starting point for conversations and spatial experiments, a record of which will be shown in a form of a video documentation.

The project is co-funded by: the Institut fűr Auslandsbeziehungen e.V.
(IFA), the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Helsinki, Honorary
Consulate of Finland in Gdynia, Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil
des arts et des lettres du Quebec.

Jan -Erik Andersson

Municipal Institution of Culture