Revolution, contestation, freedom, social transformation – such leitmotifs were addressed during 68 Workshops of Revolution – a series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the protest of 1968, which run from mid-May until mid-June in Poznań. We report on the nature of the events the Workshops involved.
68 Workshops of Revolution was a month-long series of various events, from workshops, through performance, film screenings, concerts, debates, theatre performances, installations and exhibitions. Arsenał Municipal Gallery, Teatr Ósmego Dnia and Estrada Poznańska were the organisers of the events.
The activities refer to 1968, a year marked with a surge of manifestos and revolts which swept across the world. In Poland, the most important events took place in March 1968, and were initiated by students.
Revolution took over the city – it is apparent at every step of the way. The majority of the events were held at the Arsenał Municipal Gallery and in Plac Wolności.
A campaign promoting the series of events hit the streets of Poznań with fluorescent posters which appear to be hand-made. The posters placed emphasis on the event’s aspect of liberation.
“Contrary to post-enthusiastic contemporary trends, I believe that revolution is precisely about the joy derived from shared action, irrespective of the results achieved. Revolution means equal access to satisfaction, both mental and by all means physical; it is the egalitarian care of one another and a proximity which allows us to transcend the sense of alienation,” said Zofia nierodzińska, the event’s curator.
“Horizontal Portals”, is a performance action which is the outcome of a meeting of two women, Karolina Kubik and Zuza Hertzberg. On purpose, it was inaugurated in a place in Plac Wolności (Freedom Square), in the heart of Poznań. On 3 June, in a late sunny afternoon, a small group of faithful participants followed performers to subsequent locations. The authors of the project were equipped with a red and blue flag with a slogan saying “Resist like a river.” The image of performers themselves resembled rebellious rock artists. Denim jackets covered with colourful tabs, Karolina’s partly dyed hair, and Zuza’s dreadlocks emphasised the rebellious character of the event. The women called out various slogans though a loudspeaker, such as “Water is free, and should not be sold”, or “Water remembers.” Viewers were no longer viewers. They became participants and co-authors of the event. The meeting was concluded with handing out souvenir tabs with “Resist like a river” logotype, which every participant could stitch to their clothes individually, to continue making a statement beyond the event itself. The performance blurred the line between an art project, a protest and the social action.
Video from Woodstock
The 68 Workshops of Revolution featured such films as i.a. “Army of Love”, also screened during the 9th Berlin Biennale, “Yesterday Girl” by Alexander Kluge, but also a video recorded during the iconic Woodstock festival. For the latter, the screen was divided in two parts, so that two threads are shown simultaneously. This was followed by longer takes of individual concerts. The protagonists comment on the political and social situation, at the same time using the moments of performances on stage to hold discussions, or share important information. The event itself was a manifesto against the Vietnam war. The film is an expressive record of the festival, devoid of any commentary. The film is all the more important to the inhabitants of the Wielkopolska region, located close to Kostrzyń nad Odrą, where the Woodstock Festival Poland has been held for nearly 24 years.
“Freedom Concerts” – a modern form of artistic expression /where word, image and sound meet in one place.
“Freedom Concerts” were among the numerous elements comprising Workshops of Revolution. The modern arrangement of literary works by Witkacy, Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, and Władysław Brzozowski was created under the supervision of Estrada Poznańska, and was a combination of a multimedia show with monologues. The electronic background music was the work of Michał Szturmowski, Jędrzej Guzik created the graphic visualisations, while the fragments of literary works were recited by the actors from Teatr Ósmego Dnia – Adam Borowski Herbst, Tadeusz Janiszewski-Theobaldt, Marcin Kęszycki, and Ewa Wójciak-Pleyn. Similarly to pop culture in general, the music presented at the concerts had its source in 1968. The 1960s were marked with defiance, revolution, social transformation, the values which the “Freedom Concerts” referred to, and the texts presented during the shows spoke of courage and solidarity. A gripping way of presenting classic texts, combined with a state-of-the-art form of arrangements made the show appealing and relevant for every generation.
The month-long series of Workshops of Revolution came to an end. Concerts, exhibitions, workshops, performance, shows, monologue theatre performances – this multitude and diversity of events gave viewers an opportunity to choose from forms of expression they enjoy, or to familiarise themselves with completely new means of presentation. The urban space was used again (mostly Plac Wolności), in order to reach a wider public. Rebellion, struggle, contesting ideologies, presented in this form, prove that there is power in young generations to try change the world. Undoubtedly, the workshops inspire, they are a food for thought for participants, and can stimulate new action in the field of social affairs, politics and art as well. They have become a starting point for deeper engaging and for posing questions on the current social and political situation, and our own attitudes towards it.
Written by Natasza Czarnecka
Translated by Monika Mokrosz
Edited by Contemporary Lynx