The Office for Postartistic Services is a unit functioning under the umbrella of Bęc Zmiana Foundation. It’s goal is to support art that actively engages with social and political movements, strengthening the progressive artistic activism that has recently emerged in Poland. The broad network of artists connected to the Office implement artistic strategies and tools beyond the art galleries, carry art out to the streets or feature it in the media to counter alt-right propaganda and contribute to the antiauthoritarian, antifascist, prodemocratic, pro-LGBT+, and ecological agendas by testing new, innovative methods of protest and action. The Office’s goal is to reinforce this bottom-up movement, both in its more spontaneous and self-reflective forms.
The Office’s working methodology is based around facilitating cooperation between artists and political and social activists. It primarily focuses on carrying out artistic interventions in public space, establishing long-term alliances between artists and activists as well as implementing artistic imagination and practices within activist and political context. The Office organizes, supports and documents direct actions; takes part in numerous demonstrations and protests; maintains a strong online presence by publishing content and reports; cooperates with media and public art institutions; creates online archives and repositories of knowledge; organizes regular meetings, assemblies and plein-airs.
How to talk about antifascism at a family dinner?
What is the publication How to Talk About Antifascism at a Family Dinner?
It is a tool, that will serve educators, cultural workers and artists as a source of knowledge and resource for constructing a languege countering violent, excluding, (neo)fascist and alt-right discourses and practices, which are more and more common both in public nad private spheres. The goal of the book is to provide the readers with knowledge and a number of practical (educational, discursive, creative and legal) tools that will help them to react to the symptms of such attitudes, statements or behaviors, in their nearest millieu – work, social, family or institutional.
Who has created the publication?
The book was edited by an interdisciplinary editorial team, that includes researchers, cultural workers, artists, educators and journalists. The publication consists of short essays analyzing the key notions that organize the contemporary (neo)fascist and alt-right discourse; illustrated FAQ sections that show how to react to common violent and excluding attacks; a legal guide; a set of antifascist artworks as well as creative educational exercises.
Authors: Katarzyna Chmielewska, Kamila Ferenc, Agnieszka Graff, Elżbieta Korolczuk, Michał Kozłowski, Tomasz S. Markiewska, Stanisław Obirek, Magdalena Szpecht, Aleksy Wójtowicz..
Artists: Małgorzata Mycek, Elektra KB, Joanna Sarnecka, Kuba de Barbaro, Alevtina Kakhidze, Tomek Paszkowicz, Małgorzata Gurowska & Agata Szydłowska, Kaja Kusztra & Agata Wrońska, Adam Kozicki, Mateusz Kowalczyk.
Where can you get the book?
The digital version of the publication is available here for free. The printed version will be available the Bęc Zmiana bookstore and selected institutions across Poland in early 2023. More details on the book distribution will follow soon.
On December 20th 2022 at 19:00 in the Warsaw’s Klubojadalnia Młodsza Siostra (ul. Dobra 14/16) we will hold an official book launch event.
The book launch will be acommpanied by a series of workshops, that will take place in selected institutions across Poland in early 2023. The workshops will be directed both to the staff of insttituions and the general public.
The project „How to Talk About Antifascism at a Family Dinner?” is funded from a grant from the Active Citizens Fund – Regional program funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway within the EEA grants.
The Neoplasticist Demonstration
The Office for Postartistic Services supported The Neoplasticist Demonstration!
The Neoplastic Demonstration is part of the anti-war march Wiosna nasza – pożegnanie zimy, wyzysku i wojny (Our Spring – Farewell to Winter, Exploitation and War), organised, among others, by Miasto Jest Nasze and Otwarty Jazdów. This Sunday, 20th of March, it will march through the streets of Warsaw in support of the free Ukraine and as a gesture of solidarity with the victims of Russia’s imperia-list politics. The idea behind the Neoplastic Demonstration focuses on an attempt to instill a positive visual language using well-known tools from the field of art and art history. Neoplasticism, with its pa-lette based on primary colors and geometric divisions, is commonly associated as a symbol of modern art – an elegant work of art that looks perfect on the white wall of a flat or gallery. Expensive and far from socially engaging. However, the idea conceived over a century ago by Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg (the creators and promoters of Neoplasticism) was radically different. Neoplasticism was a radical voice against the tragedy of life and the pernicious sentiment towards the past – and an attempt to introduce harmony and affection, to look towards the future and the possibility of building a better world. One in which wars and empires are a thing of the past that no one longs for.
More than a hundred years later, the rabbit-ducks – members of the informal workers’ of art and culture alliance that stands behind the Neoplastic Demonstration – take to the streets with several dozen works inspired by Mondrian and van Doesburg. They remind us of the currency of art from the interwar period, remembering the power of images, just as the Lvov native Henryk Streng/Marek Włodarski reminded us of them when he painted the Demonstration of Paintings series in the 1930
s, in which works of art are an inseparable part of a protest against something and for a cause at the same time. Similarly to the figures painted by Streng/Włodarski, those taking part in Our Spring march take their works, banners and placards with them. The ascetic palette of the works, which is based on white, black and primary colours (red, yellow and blue), is not only a reference to neoplastic ideas, but also a clear signal of solidarity with people from Ukraine, as well as Belarus.
The works created for The Neoplastic Demonstration will not only serve as a visual setting for the anti-war march – after its conclusion they will be exchanged for donations to humanitarian organisations supporting Ukraine in the face of Putin’s aggression. They were created in cooperation with artists from the Bila Tserkva, Kharkiv, Chervonograd, Gdansk, Katowice, Kiev, Krakow, Lviv, Poznan, Reykjavik, Torun, Warsaw and Vinnitsa, and also thanks to the contribution of the students from the High School of Arts in Grudziadz. The concept of transferring the tools of art to the everyday world, which motivates the organisers of The Neoplastic Demonstration – rabbit-ducks – is something more than idle discussion about the usefulness of art. It is another chapter in the history of solidarity, cooperation and resistance to aggression through non-standard, grassroots tools and creativity.
Office for Postartistic Services featured in 2021 recaps
Activties of the Office are featured in a number of 2021 recaps. Kuba Szreder mentions both the OPOLNO 2071 plein-air and the March of Hospitality in his 2021 recap published in SZUM – the most important arts magazine in Poland. In his end of the year essay for SZUM Stach Szbłowski writes about the March of Hospitality and Michał Frydrych’s Monument to the Barbed Wire in the context of the humanitarian crisis on Polish-Belarus border. In the 2021 recap published by culture.pl platform Piotr Policht interprets the OPOLNO 2071 plein-air as a practical tool for rethinking the role of arts in the face of climate crisis.
How to Talk About Antifascism at a Family Dinner?
The aim of the project realized by the Office of Postartistic Services between October 2021 and September 2022 is to create, distribute and promote a publication which will serve as a source of knowledge and tool to construct a language for reacting to violent practices and discourses. The publication is directed to educators, culture workers and artists.
As part of the “How to Talk About Antifascism at a Family Dinner?” project we will also organize a series of workshops on recognizing and reacting to violent discourses; popularizing values such as freedom of conscience and speech (including freedom of artistic creation), respecting diversity of attitudes understood as a foundation of democracy and civil society as well as dealing with conflict in work, familial or institutional context.
The project was initiated by a direct action in public space – the March of Hospitality which culminated on November 11th 2021 – the National Independence Day. The workshops and publication are planned for 2022.
The project is funded from a grant from the Active Citizens Fund – Regional program funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway within the EEA grants.
The March of Hospitality
November 9th-15th, 2021
Even in November another Poland is possible. We cannot change the climate, but we can alter the atmosphere. Let’s imagine for a while, that instead of a march of chauvinists, domesticated with public donations amounting to millions of zlotys, people organize a march of hospitality. Let’s imagine that Poland is not a xeno- and homophobic country, haunted by the hidden history of antisemitism and misogynistic phantasies. That Poland is an open, tolerant, hospitable and decent place. That here we help those in need, that we don’t sentence them to death from starvation, cold and exhaustion. That Poland is a country that respects those who help others, not those who beat and push them back. A country free from stigmatization, baits and hysteria.
The March of Hospitality, organized between November 9th and 15th, was a platform for artistic visions and a tribute to everyday practices of human solidarity, a festival of ideas, practices of hospitality and dreams of another, open and tolerant Poland. The festival didn’t have one specific location, as hospitality should have no borders. The initiative culminated on November 11th when a number of people associated with the March – artists, activists, citizens – participated in the annual antifascist street party. The street party, organized under the slogan “For Your Freedom and Ours” is the largest demonstration in Poland opposing the hateful and xenophobic rhetoric of the Independence March (an annual far-right demonstration also organized on November 11th). The members of the Hospitality Bloc paraded the streets of Warsaw bearing golden flags made from thermal blankets – a pro-refugee symbol proposed by the artist Joanna Rajkowska.
The March of Hospitality was a grassroots initiative that operated as a self-organised coalition, formed by a number of different subjects: groups, institutions, companies, social movements, NGOs, activists, artists, educators, the strong and the weak, citizens, meme creators and youtubers. In the frame of the common festival of imagination we have gathered a lot of propositions, activities and artistic statements which highlighted the humanitarian crisis on the Polish border, popularized and practiced hospitality and underlined the human obligation to bring and cultivate help. Altogether in the frame of the March of Hospitality over 50 different events and activities – among them discussions, benefits, exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, performances, meetings, concerts – were organized. Artists and activists shared a number of different works: confessions, poems, images, photos, graphics, memes, films, posts, instatories, links or tweets, which were broadcasted by the March’s channel on Telegram.
The March of Hospitality and activities carried out within the frame of the festival were covered in media, i.a. in the text by Stach Szabłowski published in Przekrój magazine and the report by wyborcza.pl news platform on the antifascist street party on November 11th 2021.
The Land of Zgorzelec: OPOLNO 2071
Opolno-Zdrój, August 6th-8th 2021
In July 1971 in Opolno-Zdrój, a former spa town located at the edge of the infamous Turów coal mine, the first ecological artistic plein-air in the history of Polish art took place. The event was entitled “The Land of Zgorzelec 1971: Science and art in defense of the natural environment of man”. The symposium was attended by the most important polish artists of the time, scientists, experts as well as the representatives of the local community – inhabitants of Opolno-Zdrój, miners and managers of the mine. The meeting was one of the many artistic plein-airs of the 1960s and 70s. The theme of “The Land of Zgorzelec 1971” plein-air was ecology. The event played a crucial role in the development of environmental awareness among the arts community in Poland. The imminence of the mine, power plant and industrial landscape as well as the ecologically-focused program of the event inspired the participants to come up with environmentally-focused artworks and discuss the difficult relationship between humans and the environment.
On the 50th anniversary of the first Polish ecological artistic plein-air, artists returned to Opolno-Zdrój. During the three-day long symposium entitled “The Land of Zgorzelec: OPOLNO 2071” a group of artists, curators and researchers, together with the representatives of the local community continued the discussions and activities started in 1971. However, this time, instead of warning or speculating about the imminent apocalypse and commenting on the destructive drive of Homo sapiens species, artistic tools and creative imagination were used to generate a vision of a common, green and climate-just future for Opolno-Zdrój and the whole region. The theme of the plein-air was a speculative fiction in which the mine and power plant are just a vague memory of a distant past, while Opolno-Zdrój returns to its traditions and becomes a futuristic spa and a recreational arts residency center.
The main idea of the plein-air was to use art, science and research to take a stand in the ongoing debate on just transition in Poland and its social costs. In April 2021 the Polish government extended the license for Turów industrial complex and agreed to expand the mining area. The decision will result in the destruction of half of the town of Opolno-Zdrój. Many precious buildings, including 19th century spa facilities, will be demolished; the social tensions and problems of the local community will escalate and the local environment and landscape will be further destroyed. Recently, the Turów mine and power plant have become widely discussed in Europe when the Czech government brought a case against Poland in the Court of Justice of the European Union, accusing the mine of draining its water supplies. Working in this context we have mobilized creative tools and artistic imagination to take part in a discussion which highlights all of the key tensions and problems connected with the climate crisis, just transition and the European Green Deal.
During the OPOLNO 2071 plein-air we’ve realized a number of projects and activities.
-We opened a temporary artistic cafe named “Well-rested Bather”. The café, which also served as a center for all plein-air activities, was run by local children, who, in exchange for flowers and stones, were serving snacks, herb brews and cakes baked by women from Opolno-Zdrój. The café, with its relaxing music, spa-inspired graphic design, props and decorations, became the public space for meetings and discussion that the town lacks,
-We exhibited printed collages depicting speculative visions for the future of Opolno-Zdrój, in various locations in the town
-We also printed the colleges as postcards from the year 2071. The inhabitants of Opolno-Zdrój were invited to fill out the postcards in the café, and send symbolic messages from the future to themselves and/or their families. Many people participated in the activity creating a collection of touching messages and beautiful visions for green, just future for Opolno-Zdrój.
-The plein-air was symbolically opened by the arrival of the “Tour de Zdrój” team – a group of artists who traveled to Opolno-Zdrój from Sokołowsko, straight from the annual “Contexts” art festival organized there. The route of the “Tour de Zdrój” lead through the Czech Republic and Germany, tracing the history of the Oppeln family – the historical founders of Opolno-Zdrój.
-We organized an experimental fermenting workshop in the café. The event, directed to the local community, was highly popular – many people from Opolno-Zdrój and nearby towns participated. Together with the artists running the workshop, they spent half a day fermenting vegetables, fruits, eggs and even coal. A couple of jars were prepared especially for the 100th anniversary of the Opolno plein-air – they are to be opened in 2071.
-We carried out a photographic workshop for children from Opolno-Zdrój. We considered the youngest generation the most important target group of our activities, as they will be the ones to really live in the town in 2071 and shape its future. During the workshop the children created photo documentation of the plein-air activities from their own perspective.
-CarbonFit – we organized an open session of “carbon-fit” – an artistic version of CrossFit training in which we used lumps of coal as training accessories.
-„Energetic trees” – we carried out a ritual performance dedicated to the trees of Opolno-Zdrój. In the town there are many beautiful, old trees – mostly lindens, pines and oaks. Some of them still remember the interwar period and the glorious days of Bad Oppelsdorf spa. The local community, together with the students from the Poznań University of Life Sciences, are trying to put them on the natural monuments list, however until now they haven’t succeeded. During the artistic ceremony the trees have been nominated as honorable participants of the Opolno 2071 plein-air and symbolic repositories of the dreams of the community of Opolno-Zdrój.
-During the plein-air we installed a children’s swing on one of the trees. This useful artwork was created with the help of a local sculptor from scrap materials found in the mine.
-The plein-air was symbolically closed with a ceremonial Sunday parade. We paraded the streets of Opolno-Zdrój wearing spa-inspired outfits, designed by artists and sewn from unique fabrics. The fabrics have been dyed using natural methods, utilizing plants, herbs and fruits collected on the abandoned lots. Many of the lots in Opolno-Zdrój are left empty after their owners were displaced and the houses demolished because of the expansion of the mining area. During our cheerful parade we carried props, such as fruits and globes, made from papier-mâché and banners with slogans such as “Opolno-Zdrój is the future”.
-During the last day of the plein-air we shot a music video for the “Grasses from space” – a Polish ecological music show, originally written and produced in the mid 1980’s and performed by children of miners from a coal mine in Knurów. “Grasses from space” tells the story of children, who don’t respect the environment: they destroy earthly grasses which start lamenting their fate. The lament travels through cosmos and reaches the grasses from space who come to Earth to warn the children that if they don’t respect the environment they will be sent to Ganymede – a planet which is hot, dry and devoid of any life. The whole story ends with a happy finale, in which the children change their attitude towards the planet and the environment. We shot a video for the selected songs from the music show, using the spectacular views of the Turów mine and power plant as background. The music video will premiere soon.
The plein-air was covered in Polish media, i.a. in one of the most important cultural magazines Dwutygodnik, podcast of the biggest Polish art magazine SZUM and fresh, young art outlet Malkontent, radio broadcasts, local TV and local online media. Anna Ptak, one of the participants, published an extended essay on the plein-air in the printed version of SZUM magazine. A text and a video report in oko.press are coming up.
“The Land of Zgorzelec: OPOLNO 2071” plein-air was organized by the Office for Postartistic Services, together with the representatives of the Opolno-Zdrój community – administrator Anna Wilczyńska and Na Trójstyku Association as well as Wrocław Contemporary Museum and Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. The event is a part of the program of celebrating the 50th anniversary of “The Land of Zgorzelec 1971” plein-air, lasting between June and October 2021.
Office for Postartistic Services