At the beginning of October the Festival “Energy of the City 2016” came to an end. The keynote for this year has been four urban cycles, namely building, destruction, demolition, and reconstruction. The issue is highly topical for Łódź, a city constantly undergoing a process of revitalization – an action that is expected to bring forth various urbanistic, social and cultural effects. During the Festival Łódź has been visited by many famous artists from New York, Perth, Turin, Tel-Aviv, Kraków and Toruń.
The very first mural in this year’s Festival was “Dementia”, a piece of art by the eminent New York artist Andrew Pisacane a.k.a. Gaia. The mural is located at 79 Kilińskiego Street and refers to the history of Łódź. It presents 3 versions of Kościuszko’s Monument at Plac Wolności (Liberty Square) in Łódź, representing the succeeding stages of the city’s history: its building in 1930, its demolition during World War II, and finally its reconstruction in 1960. Next to it one can also see the no longer existing buildings of Fabryczna Railway Station and Centrum Hotel, now the place of the New City Center. The title of this mural – “Dementia” relates to the successive extinguishing of the past urban fabric.
As in previous years, during this year’s Festival, we decided to include the local community in some artistic activities. An Italian poet and street artist, Opiemme, invited residents of the city to collaborate in making a piece of art on the wall at 20 Jaracza Street. Citizens of Łódź used 300 blown eggs filled with colour to cover the word “Guilt/Fault” – previously stenciled by the artist on the wall. After this collective painting the word was replaced with two other words, a Polish one – “Możliwości” (“opportunities”) and an English one – “Destiny”. The minimalistic mural entitled “Taurus” represents the constellation, which symbolizes rebirth and regaining of vitality.
Many of the artistic activities took place in Bałuty, the northern district of the city. Stormie Mills, a very famous Australian artist accomplished there another exposure of his international project “Lost Giants”. His piece of art at 2 Młynarska Street is entitled “Dziękuję”/“The Thank You” and refers to the painful past of Bałuty district, where the Jewish Ghetto was located and traumatic human tragedies took place. At the same time his work is closely related to the artist’s idea about the human condition and his belief that life is worth struggling for, regardless of the circumstances.
Bałuty also hosted Nitzan Mintz, Dede and Untay – three young Israeli artists of Eastern and Central European origin. Their family past, entwined with a fresh perspective on the history and modern times of Bałuty, has become a canvas for the work of these Tel-Aviv artists. Nitzan Mintz created the very first piece of urban poetry in Łódź. Her poem – written in Hebrew and translated into Polish – describes the human condition in its local and universal dimensions.
Untay has given us a portrait of his grandmother, the only member of his closest family, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, taking part in the dramatic fate with millions of Jews scattered all over the Europe.
Dede created two pieces of Street Art during his stay in Łódź. The mural „Searching safety I” at 10 Organizacji “WiN” Street features a recurring theme of his work – a band-aid – which fits perfectly into the architecture of the building and represents torn urban fabric, wounded memory and lost identity. His second mural „Searching safety II” – a huge soaring bird – has been painted on the wall of a tenement house at 15 Młynarska Street (on the left of Untay’s mural).
The author of the mural “Continuous city”at 3 Nowa Street is a young Polish artist from Kraków – Sebastian Bożek. According to his concept, the significant starting point is a city seen as a continuous fluid structure, able to change its form, neither open nor closed, without beginning or end. The architecture of Łódź, still in continual process of change, was itself a very important inspiration for the whole project.
The closure of the Festival was a 3D video-mapping show prepared by Bartosz Siorek (animation) and Steve Nash (music). The show brought to life a mural „The Second Life of a Factory”, created by a street artist from Toruń, Andrzej PoProstu. All artists referred to the remarkable space in which this event took place. At 79 Pomorska Street there are two factories, which have been recently revitalized and given new functions. Some inspiration was also drawn from former unusual designs and patterned prints of fabrics, made once in these factories.
We would like to thank warmly all of the artists, who have enriched the city of Łódź by their eye-catching and impressive works of art. We thank all our co-workers, who did very important, but often invisible work with such incredible commitment. And last but not least many thanks go to our partners for their constant support and help in the realisation of all the artistic projects.