Since December 21, 2020, the façade of TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art in Szczecin has featured a new neon installation “The Free City of Szczecin”. A collaboration of Andrzej Wasiliewski with Mikołaj Iwański, the sign was installed on December 21, 2020, as part of the exhibition “Whatever you come up with about yourself”, showcasing works by artists based in Szczecin or related to the city. The show perversely tells the story of the post-war city and examines its condition throughout the decades. It is an attempt to diagnose Szczecin’s contemporary identity as well as to make a critical review of the established symbols and myths. The exhibition will be open to visitors in January 2021, after the lockdown.
To our surprise, the project has triggered feelings of indignation on a number of Facebook profiles that associated the word “free” with… the German language (sic!). We take it, sadly, as an expression of unprocessed resentments.
We believe the sign has enriched Św. Ducha St. with the spirit of joy and light. The palette of colors is the basis of visual arts and painting, as well as of the multidimensional image of the world. We understand the word freedom with its full ambiguity. It is one of the basic universal philosophical and civic categories that connote not only “freedom from”, but also “freedom of”. Yes, freedom is one of the main identity categories in our city, and it is not owned by any of the ideological groups. We treat the combination of the words FREE and SZCZECIN synonymously, with full openness, and without enclosing them in a network of established patterns and basic connotations.
On the occasion of the upcoming holiday season, we would like to extend our best wishes for the good health, warmth, freedom, a colorful 2021 and a wise reception of contemporary art!
Stanisław Ruksza, director of TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art with the curatorial team