US AND THEM. COMMUNAL SPACES AND DESIGNING FOR COMMUNITY
SYNCHRONICITY 2014 / EXHIBITION
WHEN: 22.11.2014 - 4.01.2015
WHERE: Warsaw, Alzheimer Center / Centrum Alzheimera, Al. Wilanowska 257
OPENING HOURS: Monday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 7.30 p.m.
The community is presently undergoing a particular kind of rebirth which could be called a renaissance in crisis. On the one hand, the necessity to rethink the concept is recognized both by the nostalgia-ridden conservative circles and the critically and progressively-oriented environments inclined towards constructing new forms of community. On the other hand, due to the profound transformation of the social life which has affected the working conditions under late capitalism, the manners in which relationships are formed, the organization of everyday life, the shared values and the technological development, the theory is largely inapplicable in practice. There is no returning to the traditional forms of community. However, as of yet, only marginal attempts have been made to construct communities outside the law of identity based on exclusion and beyond the “us” - “them” divide.
The dissonance between theory and practice in relation to communities has been the subject of this year’s Synchronicity. Designing for cities of the future. It seemed key not as much to define what community means today, as to identify the boundary conditions for its formation. The community - regardless of its shared values, goals, size or specificity - is rooted in a particular space, such as the church, factory, stadium, playground or the virtual space. Such space must provide for the performance of activities and rituals as intended.
This year’s Synchronicity project considers the form that communal spaces take in the modern city and reflects on the question of how designers, architects and artists address the concept of designing for the community. The title of the exhibition Us and them refers to groups that clash within the urban space: the users and the designers, the citizens and the politicians, the “able-bodied” and the “disabled”, the healthy and the sick, those living in tenement houses and those trying to have them evicted, those in work and the unemployed, the residents of commie-era tower blocks and those living in guarded and gated housing complexes.
The purpose of the exhibition is not as much to catalogue the existing communal spaces, as to provide for a dynamic confrontation of all the very different - radical, traditional, integrating humans and nonhumans, pragmatic, highly debatable and utopian - visions for the creation of spaces for coexistence and cooperation, in order to see what results this experiments will bring. We are inspired by Walter Benjamin’s credo to always act radically, never consistently.
Given the erosion of the system of meanings to define community and the impossibility of return to what is known and therefore safe, the location - Warsaw’ Centrum Alzheimera (Alzheimer’s Center) - creates an interesting context in which to ponder the questions we pose. The space we chose puts into question the idea of both traditional and alternative exhibition space. It is a non-venue location for an exhibition. People come here when forced by necessity or a family obligation. It may be seen as a borderline space beyond which any form of community is difficult to imagine. But somehow it happens.
The exhibition presents works by architects, artists, photographers, urban researchers and citizens, including: Paweł Althamer, Karolina Breguła, Grzegorz Broniatowski, Elvin Flamingo, Mikołaj Długosz, Grzegorz Gądek, Michał Gayer, Mikołaj Grospierre, Piotr Grzegorek, Michał Grzymała, Jan Modzelewski, Piwowar/Komorowska/Winkowska, Konrad Pustoła, Maciej Rawluk, Michał Slezkin, Snopek/Cichońska, the Foundation for Local Communities (“On Site”-”Na miejscu”)/Centrala/Skanska, WWAA, Aga Szreder, Żwirek and the patients of the Alzheimer’s Center in Warsaw.