6.05.2020 Wednesday

“Wrocław Cultural Guide”: A year of anniversaries

Year 2020 is an ideal opportunity for enthusiasts of local history to explore cultural archives and artistic repositories. While the quarantine has ruined the plans of event organisers, it is worth to keep in mind the many Wrocław anniversaries in 2020. Not only can you participate in (obviously moved to the online space) activities, but also see the city from a new – or rather “old” – perspective.

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110 years of the cinema at Kościuszki Square

Palast-Theater, 1920s, phot. from the collection of Wratislaviae Amici polska-org.pl

On 3 September 1910 at Neue Schweidnitzer Straße 16 (nowadays: Świdnicka 44 Street) the Palast-Theatre came to be. Initially the cinema was just an addition to a popular restaurant. It was located one floor above the banquet hall, and two floors above the wine cellar. Soon however the cinema became so popular, that the projection room was expanded to fit a few hundred chairs, and even a balcony was added. In time more cinema venues started appearing in the vicinity. In 1913 the Tauentzien Theatre was moved to the eastern section of Hotel Residenz (which less than two decades later was replaced by the Renoma shopping centre on Kościuszki square). Another cinema, which at first was called Silesia, renamed later to Ufa, and just before WWII became the Tauentzien, opened in 1919 less than a hundred meters from the entrance to the Palast-Theatre (and just meters away from the today’s DCF cinema). For years – while other cinemas came and went – Palast-Theatre has persevered. And in some way it still exists. The building restored after the war became the home of Warsaw cinema in 1945. After several architectural transformations it became the Lower Silesian Film Centre  [pl. Dolnośląskie Centrum Filmowe] in 2011. On this 110th anniversary, DCF – cinema institution with the longest history in Wrocław – has prepared a special programme. It includes for example series showcasing the history of film – “Decades” and “Reconstructions”, as well as a selection of “video-diaries” about Wrocław. A celebration is being planned for a time, when the epidemic restrictions are lifted, to commemorate the birthday of the last historic cinema in town. Currently it is scheduled for 3 September.

75 years of Polish Wrocław

Wrocław University of of Science and Technology – first Polish lecture, 1945 (source: Elektronika nad Odrą, Ignacy Rutkiewicz 1971, public domain)

Near the end of 2019 Karolina Kuszyk released her first book – Post-German (an excerpt from it is available in the February issue of the „Wrocław Cultural Guide”). It’s a story about pioneers, who came to Wrocław in 1945, seeking temporary refuge, convinced that a third war is coming and that all it takes is one more atom bomb and they’ll be forced to move back to Lviv. It tells the fate of the second generation, who started settling down near Odra river. It continues with the story of third and fourth generation of settlers, who consider this place as their own home, appreciate its not so obvious history, and recognise its German past. Year 2020 – 75 years after the end of World War II, which meant the end of Breslau and the beginning of Polish Wrocław. This is the perfect time to read this and many other publications that discuss the complicated history of this city, region and all of the north-west territories. It’s also a great opportunity to revisit the places that bear the marks of the city’s both pre- and post-war history. On the walls of previously German-owned tenements in the Old Town you can find inscriptions with the names of Polish architects, who rebuilt those buildings. You can visit the Centennial Hall – designed by a brilliant German modernist Max Berg – and stand beneath the Spire erected to commemorate the Recovered Territories Exhibition in 1945. Take a stroll around the impressive building of Wrocław University, which was reopened very quickly due to the efforts of its research staff; by the resolution of the Wrocław City Council the year 2020 is in fact dedicated to Lviv professors.

50 years after the Fine Arts Symposium Wrocław ‘70

Zbigniew Dłubak, Andrzej Lachowicz, Natalia LL, Relop, 1970, design, Fine Arts Symposium Wrocław ‘70, documentation from the exhibition at the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław, phot. Michał Diament, courtesy of Wrocław Contemporary Museum

To paraphrase the famous quote from the symposium submission of Zbigniew Gostomski It all begins here, in Wrocław (which is also the motto of this year’s festivities), everything began between 6 and 8 February 1970, when artists, critics and art theorists met to discuss the review of avant-garde art. The goal of this undertaking was to acquire works of outstanding Polish artists and present them in public. A month later, on 17 March, Museum of Architecture opened an exhibition showcasing the results of the Fine Arts Symposium Wrocław ‘70. It involved projects, models and creations focused around the works donated by artists on the 25th anniversary of Wrocław repatriation. However, the symposium attendees’ suggestion to continue this initiative in the future (for example every two years), was abandoned. Even worse, since then only four projects were ever realised: that same year, on 9 May, the Vertical limitless composition by Henryk Stażewski was presented – nine colourful shafts of light, crossing each other in the shape of the letter “W” on the night sky (1970). After three separate attempts (in 1972, 1983, and 2010), a Living monument. Arena – an art piece featuring an upside down tree – is presented by Jerzy Bereś on the Sand Island. A concrete Chair is erected by Tadeusz Kantor (2011) near the Wrocław Contemporary Theatre and in Popowicki Park an installation called Loneliness is created by Barbara Kozłowska (2016). Because of coronavirus it is now impossible to take a trip down memory lane and experience that piece of history spanning the past 50 years. However you can find archived content and articles on the largest thus far exhibit of conceptual art on the web pages of the symposium Wrocław 70/20 initiative.

30th anniversary of the Grotowski Institute

Commemorative plaque on the building of the Grotowski Institute, phot. from the collection of Wratislaviae Amici polska-org.pl

“Each of us remembers, that we all came from the same place – the Grotowski theatre. That phrase was a part of the statement made by the founders and the members of the Laboratory Theatre group, when they chose to dissolve it in 1984. It is a fine way to describe the mission of the institute – for three decades their goal is to document and publicize the persona of Jerzy Grotowski and his work. What were the Laboratory Theatre of 13 Rows, Acting Method Research Institute and the Jerzy Grotowski Art Research and the Theatrical-Cultural Pursuits Centre? And finally: what the phenomenon of Jerzy Grotowski actually is? You can find answers to these important questions for example on the grotowski.net wortal or in the Ludwik Flaszen Reading Room. However, on the 30th anniversary of The Grotowski Institute it’s important to remind everyone, what is its purpose. To that end we present the quote of Dariusz Kosiński (programme director between 2010 and 2013), who very accurately summarised, that “the Institute is not a theatre, nor a research institute, nor an organiser of festivals, nor a publisher. It’s all those things combined – and more.” Nowadays the Grotowski Institute – for 16 years now under the leadership of Jarosław Fret – includes a few venues: the Laboratory Theatre Space, where the spectacles are performed; the Na Grobli Studio, which holds rehearsal rooms and living facilities for residents; archives; the aforementioned Ludwik Flaszen Reading Room with its rich collection of books; a forest base at Brzezinka village, where workshops take place; and the newest addition – the Centre for Performing Arts.

Collected by:
Magdalena Klich-Kozłowska, Kuba Żary

Download entire issue HERE

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