June 23, 2016 - Centre For Contemporary Art Laznia - Postcards from a city
June 23, 2016

Centre For Contemporary Art Laznia

Jasmina Cibic, The Nation Loves It, 2015. Production still. Courtesy of the artist.

Postcards from a city
June 24–26, 2016

Lecture by Rona Kopeczky: June 26, 4–7pm, deconstruction of nation building strategies in Jasmina Cibic's work

Centre For Contemporary Art Laznia
Jaskółcza 1
80-767 Gdańsk

T +48 58 305 40 50

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Artists: Jasmina Cibic, Karolina Freino, Juozas Laivys, Diana Larrea, Angelina Merenkova, Kamila Szejnoch, Justyna Wencel & Marcin Chomicki


Postcards from a city is part of the international project “Heroes We Love. Ideology, Identity and Socialist Art in New Europe," supported by the European program Creative Europe 2014−2020.

What is the city like? Where should we look for answers to this question? In the history of the place, its architecture or narratives about it? Social sciences find it in the image that exists in the consciousness of inhabitants, as history often overlaps with urban myths, promotional postcards of the city and visions shared by people living on a given territory, which function on the border between truth and falsehood.

Our research will be focused on Gdańsk and, more precisely, on the role of myths, ideologies, reconstruction and alternative narratives in creating urban histories. Gdańsk is a city with a 1000-year history, which was “built/rebuilt from scratch” in the 20th century. The war left almost 90% of the city centre destroyed. In the 1950s the decision was made to rebuild it. “We are building Gdańsk more beautiful than it ever was” was the motto of the reconstructors. However, it was not only the architectural tissue of the city that was subjected to reconstruction, but also its memory. “When the current inhabitants of the city, i.e. Poles from various regions of pre-war Poland, came to Gdańsk in 1945, there was no memory of Gdańsk, because the memory of Gdańsk that had existed before left and sailed to the West, together with the thousands of Germans that ran away or were expulsed,” recalls Stefan Chwin. The true pre-war Gdańsk was hidden and an ideological construct, socialist in form and nationalist in content, was set up in its place. The city centre was rebuilt in the form of apartment blocks for workers with façades kept in the style of baroque mannerism.

“The authorities supported us because we acted in line with the general social objectives. We adopted the slogan ‘Socialist in content, nationalist in form’ and acknowledged the first part as binding for us. And thus we built modest flats for workers on Długa Street (…) From the outside, the reconstructed town houses, where rich burghers once resided, regained their previous beauty,” says Stanisław Michel, doyen of the reconstruction of Gdańsk. What has been created? A theatrical stage design? An alternative urban narrative based on a manipulation of historical memory? A Polish city on the ruins of unwanted Prussian legacy? Or maybe the city was built anew from scratch?

The tale will not be an analysis of a specific place, but an attempt to reconstruct and create alternative urban narratives.

Postcards from a city is a part of the international project “Heroes We Love. Ideology, Identity and Socialist Art in New Europe," supported by the European program Creative Europe 2014−2020. In the period 2015−2017, the project will deal with the legacy of socialist art in New Europe and focus on the most important issues, problems and opportunities of this artistic period as well as provide a series of exhibitions, public art interventions, and international conferences and workshops.

“Heroes We Love” bring together nine partners from Central and Southeaster Europe, from Poland to Albania: Maribor Art Gallery (leading partner); BLOK Association (Croatia); SCCA Contemporary Art Center Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Tirana Art Lab (Albania); Laznia Center for Contemporary Art, Gdansk (Poland); Museum of Yugoslav History (Serbia); University of Primorska (Slovenia); Cultural Association Center plesa, Maribor (Slovenia).

Curator: Agnieszka Kulazińska

Coordinators: Jowita Buraczewska, Lila Schally - Kacprzak

Centre For Contemporary Art Laznia
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