Ideal City employs instrumentallythe phenomenon of Nowa Huta (Poland), a town imagined and made concrete from above, as a holistic urbanistic and social experiment, aimed at outlining prospective scenarios for the evolution of the concept of city. This time developed at grass-roots level by the community laying down its rules.
The case of Nowa Huta is altogether exceptional because the experimental concept of the city created for the purposes of social engineering accumulates an infinite number of previous urban scenarios, universalising in this way the experience of city in the broad sense.
The experience of Nowa Huta’s unfinished utopia goes along with an equally multilayeredvisual archive. Although it only has two authors [Wiktor Pental (1920–2013) and Henryk Makarewicz (1917–1984)], their photographic practices occurred on diverse planes, thus representing a number of simultaneous policies on working with the image. As a consequence, the mutually complementary and discursive character of specific narratives or single images constituting the collection makes it a perfect instrumentarium to be used in the investigation process of what the city is today or may be in future.
Therefore, Ideal City juxtaposes two experiences: a city designed from scratch—a laboratory not only in urbanist and architectural but chiefly in social terms, and its representation. Apparently a coherent whole, it is still based on a number of a number of overlapping views: strictly documentary, humanistic, propagandist, private, more or less directly involved in the sphere of art, frequently constituting afterimages of concurrent visual trends. Deconstruction of such multilayered and equivocal collection of photographs dedicated to the city, a product of intersecting views from above, private convictions and synchronic aesthetic regimes, gives rise to a laboratory where prospective scenarios for how the concept of city may evolve are drawn, but this time from the grassroots perspective.
Ideal City is an open proposition, and merely a leaven for a broader progressing discourse. Bordering on a display or a publication at first, it provides a platform for further research offering a living repository for interested researchers/artists to delve into within the framework of the website/exhibition, and suggest new ways of interpretation.
Curator: Łukasz Trzciński
Authors: Agata Cukierska, Dorota Jędruch, Marta Karpińska, Dorota Leśniak-Rychlak, Szymon Maliborski, Ewa Rossal, Stanisław Ruksza, Katarzyna Trzeciak, Magdalena Ujma, Michał Wiśniewski
Supporting voices: Christophe Alix, Piotr Bujak, Łukasz Błażejewski, EBANO collective, Nina Fiocco, Tomasz Fudala, Marek Janczyk, Kacper Kępiński, Paweł Kruk, Yan Kurz, Piotr Lisowski, Lukáš Machalický, Krzysztof Maniak, Tomáš Moravec, Wojciech Nowicki, Jan Pfeiffer, Agnieszka Piksa&Vladimir Palibrk, Aleka Polis, Tomasz Rakowski, Dominik Stanisławski, Stach Szumski, Yan Tomaszewski, Matej Vakula, Jaro Varga, Aleksandra Wasilkowska, Paweł Wątroba, Rafał Woś, Julita Wójcik, Ewa Zarzycka
Production: Imago Mundi Foundation in partnership with The Museum of Photography in Kraków
Lenin Metallurgical Combine, Coking Works, coke ovens – cleaning and removing coke. 1960s.
Kombinat metalurgiczny im. Lenina, rejon Zakładu Koksochemicznego, piece koksownicze – czyszczenie i wybieranie koksu, lata 60. XX w.
Photo by Henryk Makarewicz/idealcity.pl