October 21 marked the start of the 14th edition of the Warsaw Under Construction Festival. The festival is accompanied by meetings, debates, exhibitions and lectures. Curator Tomasz Fudala talks about the idea of the festival and what can be found at it.
Architektura&Biznes is a media partner of the Warsaw under Construction festival. The fesitval program is available on the organizer's website.
Wiktor Bochenek: This is the 14th edition of the Warsaw Under Construction festival. How has the festival changed over the years?
Tomasz Fudala : When we started in 2009 it was our dream to have above-ground passages and a common schedule for the subway, buses and railroad. Fourteen years later, we have all the things, but disasters are happening before our eyes, for which we are poorly prepared. First and foremost, it's the climate crisis, energy problems and the war across our border and the migrations that come with it. We still feel as a festival we are needed, and these interventionist projects of ours make sense and are still needed today.
The exhibition also includes classics of Polish comics - Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski (Papcio Chmiel), Tytus, Romek and A "Tomek. Book VII, 1972, from the collection of Wojciech Łowicki.
© Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski
Wiktor: Where did you get the idea for being inspired by Janette Sadik Khan's book ""Fight for the Streets""? In particular, that this context is more American.
Tomasz: The book, published in Poland by the High Castle publishing house in Cracow, is interesting for us because we consider it as a strand of urban theory. She summarizes those texts that we were fascinated with. She draws conclusions from Jan Gehl or Jane Jacobs and is an important theoretical statement. That's why we also take her seriously as a text. At our festival, theory meets practice. It seems to us that this book, when read by various local government officials in Polish cities, will be useful reading. This Kraków edition is out of print, but fortunately we have ebook versions. It's still an up-to-date position and worth promoting.
The issue that this is a text from across the Atlantic is that much less relevant from the fact that the car is a global topic. We wonder what its future will be, looking at the fact that it has already been with us for a century and its presence, however, is changing. Large European capitals at the moment the presence of the car is diminishing and negotiating the amount of space for it.
Photos from a yoga class held at Three Crosses Square on the occasion of World Car Free Day (22.09.2022).
zot. Sisi Cecilia © Warsaw under construction
Victor: So today the car is not modern? What impact should it have on the city.
Tomasz: The car today seems to be an element of modernism and post-war urban development. The development of technology allows us to create clean and quality public transportation. We also know the climate costs associated with the cost of gasoline or worn out tires that are a problem for electric cars. What Sadik Khan says is timeless: the more lanes we build, the more cars will appear on our streets, confirming the Lewis-Morgridge paradox. Among residents of our cities, this is not common knowledge. Many drivers are still a loud, active group of people who set the tone for the discussion. In our exhibition, we also show that this is more than a century's work of automotive corporations, which actively work on advertising and lifestyles dependent on the status of car ownership.
We do not explicitly criticize cars, but show our complicated relationship. It is impossible to imagine cities without wheeled transportation, but it is hard not to notice that the body dominates everything we see on the streets. We take this into consideration for all who plan.
We recently had a debate about accessibility and universal street design, given the statistics that show a significant increase in the use of bicycles in urban spaces. It's not like these levels of local government don't take into account. That's why we're talking at the festival about what universal planning is, because it sounds enigmatic. We won't present one solution for every city, because every city is different.
Victor: What will we find at the festival? How have the events been arranged?
Tomasz: The festival consists of dozens of events with different levels of interest and different themes. We have groups that we always work with such as residents, activists, but also urban historians and people who deal with accessibility with special needs. We also have an exhibition at the Museum on the Vistula, which is open until January 15.
Some events are also held online, like Ricardo Bobisse "s lecture on automated individual transportation. At the exhibition itself, we take care of our viewers and their different competencies. The exhibition is meant to affect emotions, there are many spatial art installations, it is worth a visit. For example, the work of Venezuelan artist Anya Alenso, which talks about the global fuel crisis and the logic of the automobile, which for many poorer countries means almost humanitarian crises. In 2018, in Venezuela, the effect of failed fuel policies caused inflation to reach one million percent. We also have the work of Ukrainian female artists who show energy blackmail, which is also part of Russian war propaganda.
Yulia Krivich, Sunflowers instead of Russian occupiers, 2022, digital print on paper. - The initiators of the action: Marta Romankiv, Yulia Krivich, Asia Tsisar, Taras Gembik, Planeta, Kat Oleshko, Yuliana Alimova, Nadia Snopek.
© Yulia Krivich
Viktor: Who is the festival aimed at? Will a self-centered person also find something for themselves here?
Tomasz: The festival is directed to all residents. It does not evaluate, but provides data and shows the laws of physics. Our thesis is the motto "our cities are not made of rubber." Physics contradicts the lifestyles we would like to practice. Streets cannot be widened indefinitely, and we must somehow take this into account. A joint analysis of street data in the context of climate change can reconcile us that we shouldn't just rely on internet memes and hate speech in our opinions. As Italian architect and participation pioneer Giancarlo de Carlo used to say, "what consensus, such a plan." Indeed, public debate is often complicated and antagonizes different groups, but it needs to be done.
Patryk Rozycki, I'm already coming to you, 2021/2022, oil paint on canvas.
© Patryk Różycki
Victor: Why is it worth going to this event?
Tomasz: This festival will provide knowledge about Warsaw, but it's valuable for other cities, because it talks about problems such as heat islands and concretosis, smog or the problem of traffic jams. These are topics that are just as important for residents of Warsaw as they are for residents of Starachowice or Końskie. And as the matron of our exhibition Sadik-Khan wrote: "the results depend on what you build." Therefore, let's build cities wisely.
Wiktor: Thank you for the interview!
October marked the beginning of the 14th edition of the Warsaw Under Construction festival!
© Warsaw under construction