LAZNIA 2 2013 - SOURCES Witosław Czerwonka
Opening: 26 April 2013, 6 p.m.,
ul.Strajku Dokerów , Nowy Port 
Curator: Jolanta Ciesielska
Exhibition of a professor from the Department of Intermedia in the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk who educated an entire generation of artists in the use of new media. Within the interiors of Łaźnia 2, we will exhibit photographic and video works by this artist that are new, but which also make reference his earlier works, using them as their aesthetic starting point. Part of the project will have connections with Gdansk’s Nowy Port district, which the artist uses as the locus of his meditations. The project in Łaźnia 2 will be site-specific in nature. 

Nowy Port is one of the districts of Gdańsk, which – like the neighbouring Brzeźno, Holm, Letniewo or Wisłoujście – is typically associated with the work of seamen, fishermen, dockers, loading and unloading workers, transport and logistics specialists and tradesmen. Its main artery is the Neufahrwasser, a channel on Dead Vistula which dates from the 17th century. The fairway allowed huge military vessels, tankers and container ships to enter the port. Together with the bonded warehouses and storehouses, it had a decisive influence on the development and life of this small and once vibrant district. Numerous concrete quays sprang up, named after Oliwa, Szczecin, Bytom, Vistula or Chemists. In mid-17th century, the Wisłoujście fortress was built, along with two demi-bastions on the western earthwork, in order to protect the imperial (Prussian) bonded warehouses and the safety of cargo transported there. During the Napoleonic era, the fortress was renamed Fort Montebello and defended by a garrison of 150 soldiers.
The largest area of the district is occupied by the limited-access and closely guarded Duty Free Zone, which houses numerous warehouses, a terminal for containerships and tankers, the Deep Sea Fishing Port, the Polish Baltic Shipping Company and the Ferry Terminal offering a connection to Sweden. A phosphorus fertiliser production plant is located at the Chemists’ Quay (Nabrzeże Chemików), while the grain trade is still taking place at the Bytom Quay (Nabrzeże Bytomskie). Before the Second World War, there were two breweries (one of which belonged to Richard Fischer), the Amada margarine factory, an ammunition dock and fuel depots, air-raid shelters for U-boat crew members and the “Schmidt und Steinhagen” warehouse of imported foodstuffs (after the war known as Vistula). On the other hand, the Westerplatte peninsula, situated opposite the Bend of Five Whistles (Zakręt Pięciu Gwizdków), housed a pier for river buses operating on the Motława river and the Polish Post Office. German assault of the complex and the dramatic defence of the Polish security staff was one of the first acts of World War II. Today, this spot is commemorated by the towering, 35 m high Defenders of the Coast Monument, designed by sculptor Franciszek Duszeńko and architect Adam Haupt, two professors of the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts.
Port districts are usually associated with places of entertainment and leisure, such as bars, pubs, brothels, taverns and inns, lodging houses and establishments that sell alcohol. With colourful market places and little shops with imported goods, or even Baltona – one of the few companies that offered Western commodities to Poles during communism that had a sailor in its logo. Port districts should be filled with a colourful menagerie of people from the whole world – seamen, illegal money changers, hookers, gangsters, petty salesmen and of course the local inhabitants. All the iconic places such as “Wiking”, “Oaza” or “Szkwał”, as well as many other bars and pubs, are now a thing of the past. Nowadays, apart from pizzeria “Skorpion” and one small bar “Perła Bałtyku” (at 85 Oliwska Street), there is nowhere to go to drink beer, dance and listen to music or eat fish. There is no park, cinema, swimming poor, fishermen or fish. No old wooden houses surrounded by colourful gardens, no yards that would emanate a pastoral, family atmosphere, with old pear trees, chestnuts, lilacs, washing hung to dry and children and dogs running around dinner tables. No community centre, where the old people that no-one cares about could reminisce about the good old days, when the neighbourhood buzzed with stories from the whole world told in many languages. 
Following the shutdown of the Gdańsk Shipyard (the last vessel produced there was launched on 1 March 2013) and subsequent changes in the employment structure, the district became desolate, drab and very sad. The closed down brewery, which used to produce beer of not only local but European renown, has not been replaced by a new one. The 18th-century Fischer's mansion – built by the owner of the local brewery and a few pubs, the district’s benefactor, who in mid-19th-century had many streets fitted with a sewer system and stone surface, and built waterworks – now stands empty, supported by a couple of planks and in danger of collapse. A similar fate befell many wooden buildings at Władysława IV, Wiślna or Wilków Morskich streets which also date back to the 18th or 19th century. The main square, named after father Gustkowicz, became the location of institutions that exemplify the district’s current character: Crisis Aid Centre, Police Headquarters and Brother Albert Social Welfare Centre.
The former Maritime Cultural Centre, which used to throb especially with music activity, now houses a popular bank. The Nowy Port Cultural Centre was moved to 49 Wyzwolenia Street, closer to the famous 1980s “wavy block”. A new opportunity to activate youth appeared in the form of the “Łaźnia 2” art centre, which was opened a few months ago in a rehabilitated former bath house at Dokerów Street. Apart from an exhibition room, it is to include a cinema, a library, a hotel for residents and rooms designated for art workshops. We hope that young people, who need support and whose colourful traces we have seen on many façades and walls in the form of numerous graffiti tags, will find something there to reconnect them with the rest of Tricity, Poland and the world. And that the citizens will want to rebuild their own community and take more active steps to look after their neighbourhood and its redevelopment. It would be a shame to see this old district, which for many years served as the sea gate to Gdańsk, fall into further degradation. We are witnessing the end of a certain history, and with it, the departure of people full of colourful stories about life in the port of Gdańsk.
Jolanta Ciesielska
Gdańsk, March 2013
Witosław Czerwonka
Born on 4 June 1949 in Wrocław. Between 1967 and 1972 he studied at the Faculty of Painting and Sculpture at the State School of Fine Arts in Gdańsk.
In 1972 he graduated from the Painting Studio headed by professor Jacek Żuławski and the Graphic Design Studio headed by associate professor Witold Janowski. Between 1978 and 1980, together with Adam Haras and Jerzy Ostrogórski, he founded and managed the multimedia gallery AUT in Gdańsk, and later OUT in Sopot. Between 1980 and 1982, together with associate professor Roman Usarewicz, he created an innovative programme of the Basic Design Studio, which he developed and implemented with Wojciech Zamiara in 1982-93.  Based on this experience, he founded the Mixed-Media Studio “PI”, of which he still manages today. In 1995, he obtained the title of associate professor and in 2000 – full professor. Between 1990 and 1993 he served as Deputy Vice Chancellor and between 1993 and 1999 as Dean of the Faculty of Painting and Graphic Design of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. He currently heads the Studio of Audio-Visual Space at the Faculty of Sculpture at the said university.
Czerwonka lives and works in Sopot. He is a multimedia artist, working with performance, film, photography, drawing, installations and video sculptures.
Municipal Institution of Culture