The Broadcast

 

I presented an event titled “The Broadcast” in reference to the pirate Radio Solidarność (Radio Solidarity) which operated during martial law in the early 1980s in Poland. For Memory of Water, I organised an audience at the historic Gate No. 2 of the Gdańsk Shipyard with Piotr Jagielski, who supervised the technical equipment of Radio Solidarność, and with Maciej Pawlak, who was its editor and author of the book “Radio Solidarność in the Tri-City”. The Gate No. 2 is the place where Lech Wałęsa stood to announce to the waiting crowds the deal that had been struck with the Communist government in 1980.

During this event, the public listened to selected archival programmes from Radio Solidarity, and from the recorded projects: “Shipyard is a Woman” and “Shipyard on Air.” The 3-hour programme was transmitted in the VHF band near the historic shipyard gate. I selected fragments relating to the strike and pacification of the Gdańsk Shipyard workers as well as the introduction of martial law. The voices recorded on tapes and played back during the broadcast evoked the energy and memories of the people who overcame their fear and uncertainty to show great courage and bravery. They were united. In those days, such pirate broadcasts appeared unscheduled, disturbing the peace of everyday radio programmes. I became even more convinced of the power, or agency, of the human voice. Recorded and listened to after many years, it reaches the innermost recesses of our minds.

I regret that I could not transmit my “Broadcast” using radio waves. Internet radio and podcasts are free of noise and interference, yet they cease to be like a living organism travelling on radio waves. Huge industrial plants like the Gdańsk Shipyard built communities – interpersonal structures that broke down once the plant closed down. To me, the most important thing about Memory of Water is remembering and reminding – bringing back and highlighting the memories of people unmentioned in any textbooks, and participating in other artists’ projects. I like looking at their work and their fresh outlook on the shipyard and its history. It was a great experience for me which has confirmed that the language of art is international and borderless. We talk about people, memory, respect and work.

Iwona Zając

Industrial Impressions

 

During our research residency in Gdańsk (June 2019), we decided to hop on this pirate ship to explore the shipyard from the water. This simple tourist attraction would turn out to be one the most inspiring moments ever for me. Besides the hundreds of pictures I took during the sailing along the waterfront, I was blown away, not only by the industrial aesthetic, but especially by the randomness of all the colours there. As an artist, that was so interesting for me, I immediately knew these wild colour combinations would play a dominant role in my planned artistic intervention.

Back home I made designs by mixing up fragments of my colourful documentation. Industrial Impressions began to form. The design was ready but finding a wall to paint it on was the biggest challenge. One wall was cancelled because of imminent demolition. Other walls were too vulnerable to vandalism. Just two weeks before the production residency, the Polish team proposed a shipping container as a canvas for the artwork. There are easier surfaces to paint on! The ribbed structure is far from ideal, especially for the linework. But the shipping container was a fantastic deep blue water colour and since shipping containers are so prominent in the shipyard, turning one into a piece of arts was the last piece to fit the puzzle.

Siegfried Vynck

Shipyard Footage

          

I continued my process of gathering footage to tell the story of our two-year journey of discovery together. This includes documenting the projects by the other Memory of Water artists. I am shooting one film in each city, so now I’m starting to edit the film for Gdańsk, but I will gradually stitch the shorter films together into a longer feature.

This was our second Memory of Water residency in Gdańsk, but I have been there several times before. I am always so glad to see the cranes in the skyline and the shipyard still working. The schedule was intense with many parallel events going on, but for me the hardest part was walking the vast shipyard with the camera equipment! My brief was to cover the artists’ process and activities throughout the week as well as the partners’ meetings.

I didn’t have a resolved visual concept before arriving in Gdańsk. The main focus, of course, was the thematics of the Memory of Water project. In Levadia, I started and finished in the River Erkyna itself. The camera (GoPro) emerged from the water to witness the actions, and then returned, submerged back in the river. In Gdańsk, I got the idea of walking – tracing my steps – through the Shipyard, up from the river, feet walking around the events, and then down into the water again at Martwa Wisła quay, where local artist, Czesław Podleśny, has installed a group of steel-robots sculptures at the water’s edge. There was a lot of walking! I had great assistance from local film-maker  miss Anna Domanska over three days who helped me to cover parallel events. Each of the artists is working on separate projects so I’m trying to connect them spatially through the film for the audience.

At the same time, during this week and the whole experience in Gdańsk, I was collecting “good examples” of developing shipyard heritage. To show how culture and the art scene can grow and evolve with regeneration. I have the opposite experience unfortunately in Gothenburg, where the shipyard disappeared over ten years and nothing of the tangible or intangible heritage was saved.

There are many exciting things happening to protect and rethink shipyard heritage in Gdańsk, like with Stocznia Cesarka, for example. These sustainable approaches are here to stay! For one thing, the shipyard area is now more accessible for locals and tourists. I think a mobile application with archival pictures, maps and guided tours would be a popular idea.

Jonas Myrstrand

Reflections on Gdansk through a Govan lens.

Reflections on Gdansk through a Govan lens.


Some personal reflections from Govan based cultural planner, Liz Gardiner who is the Scottish partner on this Memory of Water project, is in charge of the communications for the project and is an artist turned academic in the Scottish context.


Whilst the production residency in Levadia had resonance for Govan in its links to textile making with its focus on the stories of local people and their ordinary traditions like washing cloth in the river, the Gdansk situation has more of a mirroring with Govan. Govan and Gdansk share histories in the development and decline of shipbuilding accompanied by protest. All of our six city artists reflected these aspects of Gdansk shipyard’s industrial history in their interventions.
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Seed Change

I wasn’t sure what to expect at Stocznia Gdańska. From the historical images I’d seen of the cranes, the industry and the crowds during the events of the solidarity movement, I could imagine the shouting, the clanging of iron, workers and machines noisily building gigantic ships to travel the globe.Read More

Artists’ Reflections: Sun in an Empty Room

To get to the first meeting with the activists and inhabitants of Levadia at Nerotrivi, we took the road along the Erkyna river. My attention was drawn to the empty houses with no front walls. They invited me inside without hiding anything.

From the other side of the road, they were perfect imitations of ordinary houses. With windows, doors, a balcony and a house number. No sign of their shameless denudation.Read More

STOCZNIA OD NOWA

The Baltic Sea Cultural Centre is proud to launch the public debate STOCZNIA OD NOWA (Shipyard Anew) in Gdańsk: collecting dreams for a new vision.

Under this slogan STOCZNIA OD NOWA, a group of independent artists and cultural activists in Gdańsk want to jointly develop a complex social vision for the regeneration of post-industrial shipyard waterfronts, in conjunction with the Creative Europe Memory of Water project and local partner, the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre. This process is seen as the legacy of the long-term activities of Kolonia Artystów (Colony of Artists) in the former Gdańsk Shipyard area.Read More