Cultural Scholarship Program

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.

Scholarship Program 2023

The fourth edition of the Exercising Modernity Academy, a Polish-German-Israeli cooperation fostering intellectual and artistic exchange, was devoted to Eastern Europe and its historical and contemporary methods of understanding. We reflected on the concepts of East and West, had a closer look at the incoherencies between political, geographical, and cultural borders of Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries. We also examined the issue of the role of culture and architecture in shaping or modeling the societies, cities, states and identity in this region of the world.

Our ambition was to create a field for reflection on the common experience of the 20th century’s modernization movements of the states and peoples of Eastern Europe from the ideological foundations of modernity and its implementation also in field of art and architecture, through the difficult experience of totalitarianism and its legacy, to contemporary narratives and self-reflections about the East and West.

Finally, we sketched a broader and comprehensive perspective on what Eastern Europe is and how we can better understand the events, changes and processes that have shaped the world in recent times.

The above questions have delineated the thematic area for the 2023 scholarship competition for research and artistic projects, which will be carried out under the supervision of Aleksandra Janus (curator of the Exercising Modernity programme) and Małgorzata Jędrzejczyk (Pilecki-Institutn Berlin, curator of the Exercising Modernity programme), in cooperation with the programme team of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Organiser: Pilecki Institute Berlin Branch

Partners: Adam Mickiewicz Institute

Scholarship Holders 2023

The competition selected four successful candidates, who have six months to work on their original projects, focused on the subject of modernity analysed in the context of 20th century Polish and/or Eastern European history, art and/or culture with additional reference to German or Israel.

The Exercising Modernity Cultural Scholarship was granted to:

  • Małgorzata Burkot
  • Barbara Nawrocka
  • Aurélie Pertusot
  • Laslo Strong

We congratulate the winners!

Barbara Nawrocka

The project is about researching the Bloki housing estate in Ciechanów (Pl) from the perspective of non-human users of the city. The urban development was built under the name Gartenvorstadt (garden suburb), so it is the plants and their history that the project is devoted to. The estate was built in the early 1940s and was intended as a green oasis for high-ranking officials and their families settling in the capital of the newly founded East Prussian district of Zichenau.

The urban design of Zichenau (by Artur Reck and Jan Wilhelm Prendel, 1940) included a complete reconstruction of the city, while the landscape design for the rural areas of the district was supposedly drawn up by Herman Mattern himself. However, the only project realised was the green suburb. Over a year alone, more than a hundred residential buildings were erected – from single-family villas to multi-family blocks of flats, making the Ciechanów estate reportedly the largest residential complex built by the Germans on conquered land during the Second World War.

It is no coincidence that the name itself evokes associations with Ebenezer Howard’s utopian concept of the garden city. Huge tracts of land that had previously been countryside were developed in the shape of a slice of cake and loosely enough to allow the spaces between the buildings to be filled with lush vegetation.

Today, despite the density of housing built in the 1960s and 1970s, the estate is bathed in greenery. In the 1940s, private gardens with rockeries and fruit trees were established around the villas of German officials, and the rows were planted with lime trees. The history of plants on the Blocks includes the planting of trees as a community service in the 1950s, the establishment of kitchen gardens, including vegetable gardens, the cutting of trees for new developments, the revitalisation projects of the city council, the fencing in of rows of thuyas, or the planting resulting from the implementation of winning projects for the civic budget.

phot. Barbara Nawrocka materials

Biographical note:

Barbara Nawrocka is an architect living and working in Kraków(Pl). She works at the interface of architecture, installation and social action. Together with Dominika Wilczyńska, she runs the architecture office Miastopracownia. In 2022, they designed the Polish Pavilion for the 23rd Triennale of Decorative Arts and Contemporary Architecture in Milan and curated the 10th edition of the Lower Silesian Architecture Festival 2022 in Wrocław dedicated to solidarity and care in design. Together with Dominika Janicka and Dominika Wilczynska, she is creating the “Architects’ Ball”, an initiative addressing the topic of women in architecture and planning.

Aurélie Pertusot

Aurélie Pertusot’s works focus on the perception of space and time and deal with geometrical compositions changing the reality of landscapes or materials. She creates various scales’ pieces on paper or on architectures, including installations, drawings and performances.

Since her arrival in Berlin in 2010, she has been conducting artistic researches about the transformations of the urban landscape in Europe (in Villeurbanne, Epinal, Metz, and Sarlat-La-Canédat (FR), in Neukölln, a district of Berlin (DE) and in Dolne Miasto, a district of Gdańsk (PL). In each of these cities, her search led to In Situ installations woven on architectures (such as a housing building, a fortified town gate, a street) inspired by the specificities of the places and their history. Artworks’ purpose is to change everyday spaces’ perceptions. Her current project focuses on the urban landscape of Łódź (Pl) composed of post-industrial buildings of the textile industry. As an artist creating new wired realities, she wants to observe the evolution of the city’s plan since its construction and how this urban fabric is linked to a collective memory. As for, she will begin with a non exhaustive photographic survey on site, shooting not rehabilitated buildings, and collecting various subjectives perceptions.

phot. Aurélie Pertusot’s materials

Biographical note:

Aurélie Pertusot is a French visual and sound artist born in 1983 in Nancy graduated from the Ecoles Nationales Supérieures d’Art in Nancy (2007) and Bourges (2018). Since 2008, she co-founded several performance’s groups, including ‘Les Trotteuses’, ‘Les actionnaires’, and ‘Ana Colute’. From 2016 to 2018 she was a member of the sound-art research project ‘Arthesis’ at the ENSA Fine Arts School in Bourges (FR). Her pieces and performances have been presented in Europe (Centre Pompidou, Quiet Cue and Galerie Mario Mazzoli in Berlin, Cave 12 in Geneva, Gothenburg Biennial, Fyns Museum in Odense, Ny Musikk at Bergen Kunsthall, Soundseeing festival in Germany). Her work has been nominated for the Neuköllner Kunstpreis and the André Evard prize in 2019, and in 2021, she was awarded a grant at the Künstlerdorf Schöppingen Foundation (DE). In 2022, the Nancy Museum of Fine Arts (FR) is devoting a first monographic exhibition to her, emphasizing the diversity of her practice. In 2023 she has a new solo exhibition with 9 new pieces in the Łaźnia Centre for contemporary art in Gdańsk.


Laslo Strong

The City As Palimpsest

Unfolding a washed-out red folder, a title in Fraktur script dominates an aged sheet of paper.

Unsere Flucht. Erzählt von Luise Schröder. März 1945 (Pommern).
[Our Escape. Written by Luise Schröder. March 1945 (Pommern).]

The appearance of these hand-drawn letters demonstrates once more the impossibility of separating the reading of a text from its visual and tactile experience. Over the past century, the Fraktur script style became a threshold to the once well-trained German readers.

Turning the page, Luise Schröder begins to tell – typed on a typewriter – about her life and work in Stettin, where she had founded a private secretary school in 1912. The essay shifts between a factual report, storytelling, gossiping, and poetic writing. One follows Luise through the streets of her more and more frequently bombed hometown, onto various means of transportation – away from the approaching Russian army. Eventually, she arrived on the very other side of the country close to the Dutch border.

While the place of Luises’ birth Stettin became Szczecin – as part of Poland – her daughter and granddaughter were rebuilding the family company in an unfamiliar town in East Frisia throughout the second half of the century. At the beginning of the 20th century – almost a hundred years after its foundation – the company finally went bankrupt.

Luise’s great-great-grandson and graphic designer Laslo Strong unfolds the archive of the former company of his family and revisits the city where it once had started. He wonders how one can read the layers of text, typography, and history today. By investigating personal and corporate documents, as well as traces in the urban landscape, the project seeks a vernacular perspective on the shared and at the same time separate history of Stettin-Szczecin.

phot. Laslo Strong’s material

Biographical note:

Laslo Strong is a graphic designer and researcher. With an interest in typography, writing, history, and technology, his work explores letterforms, editorial narratives, and experiments with everyday screens and printed matter. He has collaborated as a graphic designer on various projects in the field of architecture (Hafencity University in Hamburg) and thereby developed an interest in typography and signs within urban spaces. In recent years he rediscovered an archive of his family who were running a school for typewriting and early computer networks throughout the 20th century. Since then he is researching the history of typography in relation to his personal history. Laslo studied at the HFBK in Hamburg, Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (BA), and at Konstfack University in Stockholm (MA). He is a partner of the design collective Our Polite Society

Małgorzata Burkot

100 schools – Eastern rural modernism

Józef Pilsudski was one of the founding fathers of Polish independence. The real but not formal dictator (marshal) of interwar Poland was loved and hated by many. The state cult of the Marshal was an important symbolic element and ideological denominator of the newly reunited country. After Pilsudski’s death in 1935, countless commemorative initiatives were established to honor his memory. One of the most curious examples of such action was a project to build 100 primary schools named after Pilsudski in the Vilnius region, where the marshal was born and raised. The region, inhabited by Lithuanians, Poles and Belarusians, was at the time within the borders of the Republic of Poland. On the first anniversary of the Marshal’s death in 1936, the Council of Ministers decided to build schools in the Vilnius region. One hundred schools were to be opened just one year after the decision. Thus, on September 10, 1937, all the schools in Bezdany were solemnly consecrated. The fight against illiteracy is a very modern idea itself. Since 1919, compulsory education has been extended to all children living in Poland. However, school buildings were lacking, especially in rural areas and children could be exempted from compulsory education, for example, because of the distance to school or the need to help on the farm. By 1931, nearly 30 percent of Vilnius province’s ten-year-olds were illiterate.

The project aims to collect information about the 100 schools. The schools are mentioned in passing in research texts, but a dedicated study of them is lacking. Yet they are a rare example of Eastern modernist rural architecture. The end of the interwar period was a time of searching for a national style. What was the architectural language of these schools? And what language did their students speak? Were they a tool for the polonization of the local population? What kind of construction made it possible to build them so quickly? The buildings are located within Belarus and Lithuania after the Second World War and the shifting of borders. What was their after war fate? What are their functions today? The research project will try to answer these questions.

Photography of the ceremony of opening and dedication of schools on September 10, 1937 in Bezdany. Students stand on the map drawing holding banners symbolically representing the school buildings. [Source: Dziennik Urzędowy Kuratorium Okręgu Szkolnego Wileńskiego. R.14, nr 11 (1 November 1937)]

Biographical note:

Małgorzata Burkot is an architect based in Berlin. She graduated from Politechnika Krakowska (PL) and HAWK Hildesheim (DE) in 2014 with a project researching and preserving a potato warehouse built as part of the former Auschwitz concentration camp. The dissertation dealt with the problem of the shared German-Polish architectural heritage of the Second World War. Małgorzata has practiced in the Netherlands, Poland and Germany working on buildings, interiors and exhibition design (100 years of avant-garde in Polish, MS Łódź, 2017/18). She is a collaborator of kontektum architektur. Her main research interests are commemoration and lost heritage in architecture and urbanism, as well as gentrification and co-creation as urban processes. She is an enthusiast of modernism and an admirer of rural architecture.