2021, site specific

XS Gallery, Kielce, Poland

The title of the exhibition refers to high-density housing estate of Nowa Huta and at the same time (paradoxically) to the famous district of Hollywood, the factory where dreams and utopias are manufactured. The city district of Krakow - Nowa Huta is a “sacred” urban forest, implemented according to a utopian plan of communist propaganda, where in the years since 1989 socialism has been replaced by a globalization which is deeply permeated by the influence of local Christian structures.

Nowa Huta was the largest and most politically important socialist city built in Eastern and Central Europe after the Second World War. The program of forced industrialization introduced by the socialist regime opened up new employment opportunities for people from the countryside, who abandoned their traditional way of life and its close ties to the land to become involved consciously and also partly unconsciously in building the socialist utopia. Factories became the new temples, “where technology can and must work wonders”.

After 1989, Nowa Huta lost its identity as a socialist model city. Much of the steel industry was closed and 90 percent of the workers lost their jobs. There followed a period of searching for new narratives through a return to the traditional Polish values of “faith and homeland” which continue to intermix with global influences.

The exhibition consists of an installation, a video, digital prints and paintings. The main installation was created from masonry meters which, when contrasted with natural materials, suggests an urban intervention in the landscape, while the recurring form of the floor plan of the Krakow Basilica refers to the search for utopias, from the heavenly Jerusalem to more futuristic concepts. The exhibition also includes a video recording of the artist’s performance in the center of Nowa Huta. A canvas depicting the utopian ground plan of the city is inverted onto the sidewalk and

drawn by the streets. The work symbolizes the encounter of utopia with reality, the disruption / assault on of utopia. As the artist walks backwards, the canvas moves forward, expressing the inherent contradictions of the historical development.

Special thanks to Mark Starel.

Supported using public funding by Visegrad Fund.