THE ULTRASHORT MEMORY OF THE CITY / Art scene at Kosciuszko Square
The second edition of MIASTOmovie will be accompanied by the artistic scene at Kosciuszko Square. This, nowadays somewhat forgotten, place is by many considered just a waypoint on the route from the railway station to the market square. However, until the 80s, it played a major role in the social and cultural life of the city. Delineated by the French, the square developed into one of the most luxurious city’s salons under the German rule. It is here that the most elegant hotels, the biggest bank and a spacious department store were located. There was a restaurant or café, a thetre and a cinema on every corner. Every year a “Festival of Flowers” took place here. It was also here that the biggest processions celebrating national and urban holidays were marching. After the Second World War, the ruined area around the square was used for the construction of the Kosciuszko Housing District, which to this day constitutes one of the best realizations of the socialist architecture. Unfortunately, in the late 80s, the trade and services running around Kosciuszko Square slowly started to deteriorate. This downward trend continues to this day, leading to the architectural degradation.
The decision to place the MIASTOmovie’s artistic scene here was driven by our will to present the potential of the place where the city’s cultural life once thrived. Works inspired by the complex history of the square will be presented by an artistic collective IP Group and Wroclaw artist Gabriela Kowalska – Gabukow. To complete the artistic scene, a special map of the square will be relased. We will mark the most important places in the past and in the present. Moreover, the signpost presenting archival photographs of the places marked on the map will be put all around the square.
City forgets quicker than we think. Just blink of an eye and it does not remember anything about itself – about what it was like a moment ago. The city dwellers cannot recall where the cultural life used to flourish. They indifferently pass by the places whose functions are no longer remembered. From time to time a remote echo of distant steps, past euphorias and ecstasies may be heard. Tentative and vague traces of past generations glimmer. What do we know about the past of our surroundings? Would we like to explore it? How far does the memory of the city reach? How quickly does the city forget?
It seems that the city did not intend to remember Kościuszko Square at all. I does not mention that the square was once outside the city walls. It does not say a word about the fact that it used to be a cementary. The city remains silent with regards to the French contribution to the square’s establishment. It does not remember the general whose tomb was in the middle of the place. It denies that there were once Nazi marches and communist demonstrations. It knows nothing about the socialist long-term plans, glowing neon signs, trendy galleries, bars and restaurants. The excesses of the contesting poets are long forgotten. So is the first in the city McDonald’s restaurant.
The Square crossing Świdnicka Street is one of the most fascinating places in Wroclaw – a degenerated salon which is still waiting to be re-discovered. It constituted a natural space of culture that used to attract and engage tens of people. Nowadys, the space as well as the service points are epmpty. Its meticulously planned socialist architecture has no equal. Its existing relics only partially reflecs the multi-layered history of the place.
Why did Kosciuszko Square’s lights went out? What shall we do to bring back the glow?
Anka Bieliz and Kuba Żary – the curators of the “Ultrashort Memory of the City”