An exhibition of photographic documentation and social and culinary events at the Wschodnia Gallery. The show accompanying this year’s edition of the Festival of Photography in Łódź is a reminder of the history of a few cult and important places for Łódź art. Nowhere else in Poland in the 1980s and 1990s was there a similar accumulation of community locations, run by artists and implementing ambitious international projects.
All these manifestations of grass-roots activity for the benefit of the local environment were always based on cooperation resulting from the spirit of community and inventiveness in finding various means of expression. This is how the Artists’ Museum operated in the 1990s and still operates: Galeria Wschodnia, Book Art. Museum and Łódź Art Center. It is there that artists have found and continue to find professional and substantive support for their projects. Places initiated in Łódź have often been an inspiration for the world and peaceful, creative coexistence, supporting visionary ideas of artists from different countries.
The exhibition, concert and party spaces of these venues were open and devoid of formality. The most important place was a kitchen, a garden with a fireplace or a room with a large dining table. Celebrated, communally prepared meals took place there. In this way, ‘makeshift artistic communities’ were established, which contributed to subsequent artistic events, new concepts in various fields of art and many useful activities for the inhabitants of Łódź. The term “makeshift artistic community” comes from a plaque that hung on the building of the Artists’ Museum at 14 Tylna Street, and the Artists’ Museum, although it has not existed for years, is still a historical marker for alternative cultural areas – just like another “place” – Wschodnia Gallery, which has existed for 38 years. We all hope for the continuation of this rich tradition of Łódź places based on ‘makeshift’, utopian ideas, also the passion of people who do not count private time and money. In the face of today’s threats, community places are still becoming an important public space for people who value freedom of expression and freedom of action. They communicate across all divisions, finding in them a community alternative to art and culture unlimited by formal considerations. The effective processes of constructing dialogue developed there have always responded to the needs of cultural, social or political areas affected by wars and conflicts. And they continue to respond creatively to new challenges.