Exercising Modernity also includes a cultural scholarship program. These scholarships are offered to young artists and members of the academic community who have participated in the Exercising Modernity Academy. The products of the scholarship program include a variety of artistic projects and scholarly articles. All projects have an interdisciplinary character and a connection with numerous branches of art, ranging from architecture to film.
The second edition of the Exercising Modernity Academy was devoted to the issue of the common good, and accompanied by an analysis of the concept of “community”, of forms of communality, and the commons. While directing the attention of participants to that which is collective and/or shared, we encouraged them to reflect on social relations in the 20th century, both referencing the common identity (historical, religious, national and class-related) and common interests or needs. We also engaged participants in a stimulating discussion concerning that which is common. Our approach inspired a dialogue and questions about the meaning and the vital role of communities in the development of modern states, cities and societies. Various forms of collective life – the city, the village, the kibbutz, forms of co-housing – were of interest, inasmuch as the way they engage with nature and the natural environment. The concept of the garden city and the modernist ideals which highly prize access to light, greenery and fresh air constitute an interesting point of reference for present-day discussions on the topic of human relations with nature. The issues of the common space and human relations with nature, and also the way in which they were conceptualized by different modernisms, delineate the thematic area of the 2020 scholarship competition for artistic projects.
The implementation of the project was supervised by Aleksandra Janus (curator of the Exercising Modernity program) and Małgorzata Jędrzejczyk (Pilecki Institute Berlin, curator of the Exercising Modernity program), acting in consultation with the program team of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute & Liebling Haus – White City Center.
Organizer: Pilecki Institute Berlin
Partners: Adam Mickiewicz Institute & Liebling Haus – White City Center
The competition produced five successful candidates, who had six months to work on their original projects, focused on the subject of modernity in reference to the Polish history, art and culture in the 20th century, as well as in Germany and Israel. The project resulted in diversified and interdisciplinary artistic works and research studies, drawing from many different branches of art, such as architecture or cinema.
The Exercising Modernity Cultural Scholarship was granted to:
Congratulations to the winners!
The project explores the trajectories and personal statements of selected figures connected with the post-war vision of modernity in the form of script writing – through the lens of collectivity, gender and self-determined political tasks. The main selection of voices includes Helena Syrkus (1900–1982), a Polish architect, urban planner and educator; Stanisław Tołwiński (1895–1969), a Polish engineer, social and cooperative activist; Selman Selmanagić (1905–1986), a Bosnian-born German architect; Arieh Sharon (1900–1984), an Israeli architect and the leader of the first master plan of the state; Hannes Meyer (1889–1954), a Swiss architect and second director of the Bauhaus Dessau; and Lena Bergner (1906–1981), a German textile designer and artist. Historical voices are partly based on archival material (unpublished and published letters between the protagonists, notes, telegrams and recorded interviews) as well as counterfeits – letters of response that were never written or found.
Drawing inspiration from such novels as “Woman on the Edge of Time” by Marge Piercy, the plot of the possible conversation is set in the year 2119, during a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of Bauhaus and almost a century after proclaiming an idea for the new Bauhaus by German politician Ursula von der Leyen. The basis for the film production – in which the selected protagonists are played by unprofessional actors – puts a strong emphasis on set design, drawing inspiration from the work of Selman Selmanagić as film architect at the UFA in Potsdam-Babelsberg in Germany, to which he returned in 1939 from Palestine in order to join the resistance against National Socialism. The plot – looking at the utopian and speculative references – is an attempt to bring back missing voices from the perspective of time, in which the urgent question raised by early modern thinkers moved from “how to live better” to “how to survive”.
Jakub Danilewicz (b. 1992) is a visual artist and author of video and sculptural installations. He is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, Poland (2018) as well as the interdisciplinary study program at WHW Akademija in Zagreb, Croatia (2018-19), organized by the curatorial collective “What, How & for Whom?” and “Kontakt Art Collection” from Vienna. His artistic practice touches upon historical and ecological politics, bioethics and areas of exclusion. He is a scholarship holder of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Poland (2020) and has taken part in exhibitions in Poland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Lithuania and Venezuela, as well as art residencies in Spain (Politècnica de València) and France (Cité internationale des arts). Based in Berlin and Gdańsk, he is currently working as an assistant to the artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh.
Camouflage and Taxidermy
There are buildings that lie. Not all of them, not all the time. But some buildings seem like one thing on the outside while being something completely different on the inside. When animals do this, we call it camouflage; sometimes they try to look like a dangerous predator when in fact they are vulnerable. Sometimes they want to blend into their environment like a leaf or a rock.
“Camouflage and Taxidermy” is a research project that deals with the phenomenon of camouflage in architecture. In the United States, government buildings like the White House and the Capitol look like ancient Greek buildings to link America as a direct descendant of Western culture. In Jerusalem, every building is coated with the same stone the ancient buildings are made of to look like they belong to their surroundings or to seem like a direct continuation of the city’s history. Another interesting example is the European trend of the 18th Century in which estate owners competed among themselves over who could build the most beautiful fake ruins. To this day, you can find ruins of buildings that look like they are from the era of the Crusades or Roman Empire, but are in fact from the 18th Century. The opposite approach was chosen by the Nazi architect Albert Speer when he designed buildings according to the “Value of Ruins” ideology, so that they would leave beautiful ruins behind in the distant future. There are many reasons for buildings to develop camouflage; this project examines those buildings and offers suggestions of its own.
Ohad Kabri is a designer, design researcher and art director. In his projects, he moves from subject to subject effortlessly, between designing a furniture set for urban nomads to exploring the local food culture in Jerusalem and its connection to the history of Yemenite Jews. In the summer, he serves as the art director of an art and music festival (in the years before Covid-19) and in the winter he writes for a fringe theater show.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design in 2018 from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, he decided to stay in the city. His projects are local, inspired by the history, culture, politics and materials of Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East. His works are often political but also have humor and never preach; all of his projects are based on in-depth research and therefore always touch on history, philosophy, religion and culture. Since graduating, he has taken part in Bezalel’s Incubator Program for promising graduates; was a founding member of “Ha’Miffal” – a Jerusalem-based cultural center; presented at the “Fresh Paint Fair” – Israel’s largest design exhibition; and served as art director and writer for several theater performances in Jerusalem.
Modernist projects of cooperatives and community-based urban farms in residential areas in German, Polish and Israeli cities. Their value in the contemporary context of sustainability.
Since various multidisciplinary studies have clearly indicated the positive impact of urban agriculture (UA) in social, ecological and economical areas, UA has become a commonly discussed topic in reference to sustainable development. The first UA concepts, being a response to the industrialization process in the 19th Century, were formed within the framework of the cooperative movement. In such projects, residential and service buildings are surrounded by green areas with agrarian and recreational functions. These urban farming examples of Modernity were a precedent for a trend of contemporary eco-urbanism and its idea of a comprehensive approach to development that links the production of foodstuffs with distribution, consumption and spatial design. Thus, this study proposal aims to investigate strategies that facilitate urban development, integrating the life of the city with food production. During the scholarship, the author intends to search for collective agrarian spaces in modernist projects. The scope of research includes theoretical concepts as well as modernist residential projects in selected cities in Poland, Germany and Israel.
Aleksandra Nowysz (born 1987, Wrocław, Poland, affiliation: Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW) is an architect, photographer, and researcher of the architecture of urban agriculture. Since 2016, she has been studying at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava (Czech Republic). In 2019, she obtained her doctorate in Architecture and Urban Planning from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology. She is a graduate of the Collective Sputnik Photos’ Mentoring Program, and a recipient of the city of Wrocław’s Jerzy Grotowski Scholarship for the field of art. The author of photographic projects devoted to vernacular architecture and landscapes, her works have been exhibited in venues including the Krakow Photomonth, BWA Wrocław Studio Gallery and Photon Galleries in Ljubljana and Vienna.
As an artist whose body and movement are the tools of both my research and work, my interest is to examine the personal body in contexts and spaces with social connotations of power and empowerment. The focus of this examination is the way in which the body adapts to these spaces and physically interacts with them.
My research project “Daily Choreographies” focuses on an observation of social environments, collectives and communities, and the relationship between the individual and the group. As part of the project, I explored the Kolonia Wawelberga housing estate in Warsaw, where I reflected on the tensions that exist between the individual and the social environment.
Another point of reference for my artistic research is the concept of “home” developed within the kibbutz. The ideology that viewed an entire community as family and the surrounding physical spaces as “home” was developed in the Soviet Union during the 20th century as part of its social experiments. In the kibbutz, the meaning of “home” has broadened to encompass both a sense of place and a physical and social structure. The collective home is based on three elements, as is evident in a study by Snir Choen (2014). The first two elements are the children’s home and “HaHeder” (“The room”) which is the residence and the communal home. The third element, which is relevant to the project I wish to create, relates to collaborative institutions, including the kibbutz dining room, laundry-room and public spaces. The communal home is the collective public space where familial functions such as dining, laundry and celebrations take place.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Kolonia Wawelberga was designed by Edward Goldberg and founded by the Polish philanthropist Hipolit Wawelberg and his wife Ludwika. The colony, in the form of an apartment complex, was set up to improve the living conditions of low-income socio-economic residents in Warsaw and assist them in paving their way out of poverty. The tenants who lived in the complex’s apartments received playgrounds, medical services as well as education for the children.
The visit to Kolonia Wawelberga made me think about the possibilities of community and the place of private expression within social structures. As a former kibbutz member and someone who was raised and educated in a collective society, I research and explore the individual’s freedom of choice within the community and the boundaries of this choice. One of the questions that guide my work regards the individual’s decision to be part of the community and the extent to which the individual can express an authentic voice within a communal context. For me, getting to know the community structure of Kolonia Wawelberga presented an opportunity for a creative discourse that raises these questions and reflects on the role of architecture in shaping communities both in the Israeli kibbutz and the Polish residential colony.
Furthermore, figures such as Barbara Brukalska and Katarzyna Kobro influenced and re-shaped my thinking through their discourses and material expressions. They challenge the senses and define new possibilities for the occupation of space.
An example for such transformational thinking is the way in which Barbara Brukalska’s innovative vision of incorporating the kitchen as a room that is no longer completely separated from the rest of the house enabled the entire family to become visually and sensually involved in the action that takes place there, and thus the act of cooking becomes a performative action.
Another such example are Brukalska’s public garden designs, as can be seen at the Warsaw Housing Cooperative, in which there is an emphasis on organic, non-geometric shapes that allow for a free flow of movement and social interaction. In Kolonia Wawelberga, the communal garden has a more geometric shape and is enclosed by the surrounding apartments, thus giving a theatrical impression in which the people that attend the garden act as performers.
In the two cases above, as well as in the public spaces of the Israeli kibbutz, public gardens serve the purpose of freeing the body from the daily chores. The architecture is not directing the individual into any particular movement or action, but instead it is an optimistic ‘soft’ space, which encourages social encounters, and the gathering of a community.
Daphna Noy is a visual artist working in a variety of media. Noy holds an MFA degree from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where she enrolled after earning her BA in Dance and Choreography (B. Dance with honors) from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Noy’s works have been presented at the Llorar Gallery (Mexico City), Florentin Quartet (Tel Aviv-Jaffa), HaShah residence (Tel Aviv-Jaffa) and more. Noy was selected for various international residencies including A-Z WEST (an artist residency program by the artist Andrea Zittel at Joshua Tree, California), SOMA (Mexico City, Mexico) and Exercising Modernity (Warsaw – Tel Aviv – Berlin). Noy is currently teaching at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
The Super Block
The Super Block is a speculative spatial typology derived from researching a modernist ethos in the architecture and urban planning of Germany, Israel and Poland. The research, presented as a series of multi-threaded graphical schemes (almost like an architectural comic book), defines interconnections between regional notions and international movements, also indicating the pre-modern predecessors
and future descendants of the Super Block typology. The new typology is derived from examined examples, a common imagery, sometimes opposing design philosophies and shared qualities. Zooming in on specific design examples put in a context of flagship manifestos creates a complex, yet comprehensible typology of the modern Super Block. The obtained quality model can be traced back to the history of modern architecture, but also evolve into the future of design. Therefore, the speculative part of the project translates the defined typology from a formal language of modernity into contemporaneity. A new Super Block takes the form of a Janus-like habitable object. Its complexity and multiplicity of values and threads is shown as a new urban block. Its form and features, its spatial solutions and its programmatic layout all manifest the Super Block qualities. The design of an architectural block uses its three-dimensionality to inscribe various features derived from the research. It is presented as a 3D model accompanied by speculative architectural details, renderings of its various phases and a set of standard architectural drawings necessary to show the Super Block project as a form in space.
Agata Woźniczka is an award-winning architect and urban planner who runs the architectural practice BUDCUD that specializes in interdisciplinary strategies, public spaces and architectural installations. In addition to working on solicited projects, she conducts her own research, regularly tutors design workshops and consults on international spatial strategies. In 2020, she became a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Architecture at the Wrocław University of Technology. In 2019, she was a member of an international urban design team during the “Bauforum Magistralen” in Hamburg, working on the future of the city driven by a smart commute revolution, while in 2016, she worked as a curator of the Wrocław European Capital of Culture’s “Big A” cycle of architectural lectures and workshops. As part of the Exercising Modernity scholarship program, she is investigating public spaces of modernism in Poland, Germany and Israel, working on a speculative proposal of an international common ground.