Monument to the 50 th Anniversary of the Wrocław ’70 Visual Arts Symposium

2020, commemorative coin (2 pieces), banner on the facade of the museum building

Among the many opinions about the Wrocław ‘70 Visual Arts Symposium there is also the conviction that the event ended in an organisational failure and artistic flop. It was hoped that the Symposium would result in spectacular monuments marking the 25 th anniversary of the return of the Regained Territories to Poland, adding prestige to the city. But nothing was actually created. This aspect appears in the work of Irmina Rusicka, who made a perverse attempt to create a monument commemorating an event whose main goal was to generate monuments and spatial forms in the city, none of which materialised at the time. The artist’s proposal consists of two integral parts. The first is a readymade of a kind – a commemorative coin with a face value of 10 zlotys, introduced into circulation on 9 May 1970, on the occasion of the 25 th anniversary of returning the Western and Northern Territories to the Motherland. On the reverse of the coin, there is a border post of the Polish People’s Republic, next to the coats of arms of seven cities that were the administrative centres of provinces established in the “regained territories” (Koszalin, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Olsztyn, Zielona Góra, Wrocław and Opole), below – the dates 1945-1970, and around – the inscription: “We were – We are – We will be.” The second element of the work is a banner displayed on the façade of the museum with the phrase: “Cancel everything, pay everyone!”. This was a popular social media slogan during the period of suspension of cultural activities in Europe due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Text by Piotr Lisowski — the curator of the New Normativity. Wrocław '70 Visual Art Symposium exhibition