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Main Post open to art. UKEN art and design diploma exhibition

04 of January '24

In mid-December 2023, at the Main Post Office building in Kraków, we had the opportunity to see an exhibition of the best diplomas in art and design made at UKEN's Institute of Art and Design and Institute of Painting and Art Education in 2022-2023. The exhibition was an extraordinary opportunity to see not only the work of young artists and designers, but also to visit the interior of the landmark Kraków building, which is currently managed by ZEITGEIST Asset Management. The post office is currently unused, but is expected to become a hotel in the future. The Baumschlager Eberle Architekci Kraków studio is responsible for the project to change its function, but with care to preserve its genius loci.

Dyplomy obronione na kierunku Design

Diplomas defended in the field of Design

photo: Andrzej Najder

The exhibition at the Main Post Office was held as part of the 11th edition of the Faculty of Art in the City festival, which every year gathers crowds of artists and guests sensitive to art. In 2023, the festival had two iterations. In May, the UKEN Art Department, in cooperation with the East of Art Foundation, organized Kraków Art Week KRAKERS. At that time, the Main Post Office hosted an extensive, interdisciplinary show of visual art and design artists, lecturers of UKEN. In December, the Post Office reopened its premises, giving them over to female art and design students and PhD students in the art field, who presented their work in an exhibition titled. "Diplomas at the Post Office."

For the first time in the long tradition of this art festival, all the diploma works could be exhibited side by side in one space. For many of our students, this was their debut. The historic interiors of the Post Office created an amazing, conducive atmosphere for this," said Dr. Sebastian Bożek, curator of the exhibition on the part of UKEN, during the opening on December 7, 2023.

Makieta ferrari wykonana przez Adama Żądło Praca Sylwii Cieniawy

A model made by Adam Żądła and a painting by Sylwia Cieniawa

photo: Andrzej Najder

art inside the post office

Entering the building, we were greeted by a cardboard model of a Ferrari Testarossa, which is a doctoral thesis titled. "Makietowanie rzeczywistości" made by Adam Żądło. The installation, made under the direction of Sebastian Wywiórski, PhD, consisted of objects in virtual space (accessible through VR) and physical space, using mixed reality (MR) technology. The car mockup was made from materials found on the family farm and was based on memories and a toy car that the author played with as a child. Interestingly, the real Ferrari, he had never seen in person.

Praca dyplomowa Gabrieli Gilewskiej „To nawet nie było tak”

Gabriela Gilewska's thesis "It wasn't even like that"

photo: Andrzej Najder

Then, directing our steps inside the hall, we came across a red installation-textile stretched in the air by Gabriela Gilewska. The piece, "It wasn't even like that," made under the direction of Dr. Lech Kolasinski in the Visual Activities Studio, is also a reference to childhood memories. Made on crochet, the costume with exaggerated proportions and a hood with horns is, as the author explains, an attempt to build a bridge between what was and what will be, between carefree childhood and the inevitable entry into adulthood.

Widok wystawy prezentującej prace dyplomowe obronione na kierunku Komunikacja Wizualna

A view of the exhibition of graduation works from the Visual Communication major,
in the background, a model of the Central Post Office made by Baumschlager Eberle Architects Kraków and a presentation by Zeitgeist Asset Management

photo: Andrzej Najder

In the atrium space we could also see an arrangement of diplomas from the Design and Visual Communication faculty. In the further rooms of the post office, the curators placed diploma works made in such majors as Art and Education, Art and Media, and Digital Media, among others. Wandering through the numerous corridors and rooms of the post office, we could not only admire the graphics and paintings, but also play games. One of them was a steampunk game, referring to the World War I era „Project Lockery” by Kacper Gorycki, made under the direction of Dr. Jacek Zloczowski.

W trakcie ekspozycji można było również zagrać w gry. Na zdjęciu gra „Project Lockery” Kacpra Goryckiego

It was also possible to play the games during the exhibition. In the photo, the game „Project Lockery” by Kacper Gorycki

photo: Andrzej Najder

Another surprise was the rearrangement of the former parcel room to function as a cinema room, where movies made for the Art and Media major were screened.

Na wystawie zorganizowano również pokaz filmów wykonanych na kierunku Sztuka i Media. Na zdjęciu film Weroniki Juszczyk

The exhibition also included a screening of films made for the Art and Media major. The picture shows a film by Weronika Juszczyk

photo: Andrzej Najder

exhibitions not only at the post office

Also in December, doctoral students, working with partners from the Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Rzeszow, made an intervention in another Kraków building—the UKEN Social Sciences Library. At the same time, art lovers could see the post-competition exhibition of artistic graphics „Graphics of the Year” at the headquarters of the Association of International Triennial of Graphics at the Main Square in Kraków.

Cykl litografii Katarzyny Laskowskiej

series of lithographs by Katarzyna Laskowska

photo: Andrzej Najder

The Faculty of Art in the City festival, however, is, above all, a review of the attitudes and comments of the young generation of artists to current events and the current stage of development of art media and the latest design trends, the curators Dr. Weronika Plinska and Dr. Sebastian Bożek conclude.

Dyplomy artystyczne na Poczcie Głównej Dyplomy artystyczne

Art diplomas in the spaces of the Main Post Office

photo: Dobrawa Bies

All these exhibitions are the result of the partner-tutoring model adopted at UKEN to support the development of young artists and designers. The modern model of tutoring includes majors: Art & Design, Gafika, Design, Digital Design, Painting, Visual Communication, Art and Media, Art and Education, as well as curatorial theoretical majors: Visual Studies—Visual Studies and Contemporary Art, as well as the Art & Science Interdisciplinary Individual Art Studies, where students compose their own studies, drawing on the wealth of dozens of courses in various fields of knowledge offered by UKEN.

W przestrzeniach Poczty zorganizowano również pokaz ilustracji książkowej i komiksów. Na zdjęciu komiks Radosława Klasy

Book illustration and comics show. Pictured is a comic strip by Radoslaw Klas

photo: Andrzej Najder

What's next for the General Post Office?

In a conversation conducted by Wiktor Bochenek with Andrzej Lisowski and Wojciech Miecznikowski of the Baumschlager Eberle Architekci Kraków studio last January, the architects talked about the design challenges of changing the function of the post office building to a hotel, and what the iconic building could become for the city in the future.

Wizualizacja Poczty Głównej jako hotelu

Visualization of the Main Post Office as a hotel

© Zeitgeist Asset Management press materials

The designers' goal is to preserve the genius loci of the post office, refer to its history and highlight distinctive elements. Starting from the first floor—the main entrance hall will retain all historical elements, and the character of the interior will refer to the aesthetics of the modernist post office of the 1930s. The post office box room will be accessible from the lobby, and elements of former post office equipment will be placed in the adjacent space.

Wizualizacja holu nowego hotelu

open lobby of the hotel

© Zeitgeist Asset Management press materials

On the second floor, the architects planned to display the „telephone room” along with adjacent spaces and an atrium open through all floors. Elements of patron decoration on the walls and ceiling of the hall and atrium will be preserved and exposed. As assured by the designers, the hall is to serve as an accessible club for all. Access to it will be provided directly from the entrance hall via a corner staircase and elevator complex.

visualization of the building superimposed on a photo of the current state

© Zeitgeist Asset Management press materials

The second floor, meanwhile, will provide 22 hotel rooms. Two additional floors, added in 1931 by Frederick Tadanier, will contain 30 rooms (third floor) and 26 rooms (fourth floor). The rooftop terrace of the main building will be converted into a viewing area and open to guests, serving as a public function and tourist attraction overlooking the Old City skyline. When will the idea be put into practice? We don't know yet, discussions with conservation institutions are still underway.

Dobrawa Bies

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