“Is Warsaw becoming a city of the ‘Third World’?”—asked the sociologist Bohdan Jałowiecki in 2006. If the city was moving in that direction, Polish architects and planners would have already been well equipped to deal with it. This is because those among the most active today know the cities of the ‘Third World’ from first hand experience in the 1970s and 1980s, when intellectual labor was one of Poland’s top export products. This exhibition questions the impact of this design experience in the Middle East and North Africa on the production of urban space in Poland after socialism. Working in Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates gave Polish professionals an acquaintance not only with advanced technologies, materials, and functional programs, but also with postmodernism as the new tendency in architectural practice and discourse. The postmodern appropriation of traditional urbanity and the rejection of architectural “utopias” of the early 20th century avant-gardes was as popular with the regimes in Baghdad, Damascus, Tripoli, and Abu Dhabi in the 1970s and 1980s, as with investors and large parts of the public in Poland after socialism.
The exhibition "Postmodernism Is Almost All Right. Polish Architecture After Socialism and the Postcolonial Experience" (October 1 - 31, 2011) will be accompanied by the symposium “Architecture After Socialism: Is Postmodernism All Right?” (Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, October 8, 2011) which aims at tracing alternative genealogies of current architecture production in Central and Eastern Europe. The speakers include Max Hirsh (Cambridge MA/ Berlin), Lukasz Stanek (Zurich/ Washington), Martino Stierli (Zurich), Jane Pavitt (London), Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss (Philadelphia), and Piotr Winskowski (Kraków).
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