The Urban Forms Foundation has been activity bringing street art to the city of Lodz, Poland since 2009. They have recently just wrapped up their street art festival called “The Energy of the City 2016”, dedicated to four urban cycles: namely building, destruction, demolition, and reconstruction. The issue is highly topical for Lodz, a city constantly undergoing a process of revitalization – an action that is expected to bring forth various urbanistic, social and cultural effects.
New york, Baltimore based street artist Gaia was the first artist to introduce the festival with his impressive mural titled “Dementia”, referring to the gradual erasure of the past from the contemporary urban spaces. The painting draws a parallel between the demolition of the surrounding neighbourhood and the contested history of Kosciusko as a national figure.The mural is located at 79 Kilińskiego Street.
Gaia mural shows the three versions of the Kosciuszko monument on Wolnosci Square in Lodz, which represent the successive stages of its history: construction in 1930, destruction during World War II, and finally reconstruction in 1960. On the mural the non-existent buildings surrounding the New Centre of Lodz can also be seen. The title of this mural – “Dementia” relates to the successive extinguishing of the past urban fabric.
The Italian poet and street artist, Opiemme, invited residents of the city to collaborate in making a piece of art on the wall at 20 Jaracza Street. Opiemme stencilled the words “Guilt/Fault onto the wall, then asked the local residents to throw 300 blown eggs filled with colour to cover the words. After this collective painting the word was replaced with two other words, a Polish one – “Możliwości” (“opportunities”) and an English one – “Destiny”. The minimalistic mural entitled “Taurus” represents the constellation, which symbolizes rebirth and regaining of vitality.
Stormie Mills project “Lost Giants” can be found at 2 Młynarska Street, Baluty and is entitled “Dziękuję”/“The Thank You” and refers to the painful past of Bałuty district, where the Jewish Ghetto was located and traumatic human tragedies took place. At the same time his work is closely related to the artist’s idea about the human condition and his belief that life is worth struggling for, regardless of the circumstances.
Three Israeli artists of Eastern and Central European origin Nitzan Mintz, Dede and Untay also painted in Baulty reflecting on their family past, entwined with a fresh perspective on the history and modern times. Nitzan Mintz created the very first piece of urban poetry in Lodz. Her poem written in Hebrew and translated into Polish describes the human condition in its local and universal dimensions.
Untay painted a portrait of his grandmother, the only member of his family, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Dede created two pieces of Street Art during his stay in Lodz. The mural “Searching safety I” at 10 Organizacji “WiN” Street features a recurring theme of his work, a band-aid, and represents torn urban fabric, wounded memory and lost identity. His second mural “Searching safety II” is of a huge bird and can be found at tenement house at 15 Młynarska Street.
Sebastian Bożek paints “Continuous city” at 3 Nowa Street and took inspiration from the architecture of Lodz still in a continual process of change. According to his concept, the significant starting point is a city seen as a continuous fluid structure, able to change its form, neither open nor closed, without beginning or end.
The closure of the Festival was a 3D video-mapping show prepared by Bartosz Siorek (animation) and Steve Nash (music). The show brought to life a mural “The Second Life of a Factory”, created by a street artist Andrzej PoProstu. The mural can be found at the recently revitalised two factories in 79 Pomorska Street. Some inspiration was also drawn from former unusual designs and patterned prints of fabrics, once made in these factories.
Another great festival in Lodz that adds to all the other great street art that can be found in Poland.