Door Caroline van Slobbe Havana is full of small businesses. The most common entrepreneurs are ladies who sell cupcakes and cookies from their front door or window, small cafeterias with coffee and a sandwich for some pesos, people selling the latest American movies and series on copied DVDs, and men walking with carts and shouting in a special loud and low tone that many of them use: “Tengo galletas de mantequillaaaaaaaaaa” (I have butter cookies). When there are eggs and/or potatoes – products that are scarce – that is shouted loudly: “Hay papa, hay huevo, hay papa, hay huevo” (there are potatoes, there are eggs). It is almost like a song, or maybe a rap. Together with the roaring engines of vintage cars, and an occasional rumba or reggaeton beat, it forms a cacophony that is typical for the neighborhood.
Anthropologists in Art presents: Neon Warszawski – Polish Neon, a photography exhibition on Socialist visual communication
By Ilona Karwinska & Krzysztof Wojciechowski
February 9th – March 16th @ WM GALLERY, Elandsgracht 35, 1016 TN, Amsterdam
OPENING: SAT. 9th OF FEBRUARY, 17.00-19.00
About the exhibition:
In 1957, at a conference in Czechoslovakia, Communist Party ideologues agreed that neon could be a way to reconcile the seemingly contradictory ideas of communism and consumerism in their ailing, state-run economies. The Polish Socialist Party, having created the state-run company ‘Reklama’, throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, recruited prominent artists and designers to bring about a transformation through light, playfully modifying the uniformity of the grey, drab socialist skyline. “Neon Warszawski – Polish Neon” shows the photographs of two Polish artists, photographer and Neon Muzeum director Ilona Karwi?ska and independent photographer Krzysztof Wojciechowski, whose photographs of old school Polish neon signs adorn the walls of WM Gallery. Both artists present the exquisitely designed neons from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s from different perspectives. Whereas Karwi?ska’s photographs present the signs from a more ‘documentary’ point of view, due to her efforts of rescuing the old signage from disintegration and anonymity, Wojciechowski’s black and white photographs from the 1970’s show us night-time Warsaw as it must have been; glum, dark and deserted, enlivened only by the fanciful rectangles and curls of Poland’s premier designers in light. Visit the official webpage HERE.
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