backFD4K'09 // T-E-R-R-I-T-O-R-Y
The ideal state, according to Thomas More’s vision, was to be built on two foundations: the strength of the borders separating the city from the outside world, and the security of the residents. For a long time, the dream city was one of harmony, order and stability. The perfection of the concentric city gradually gave way to places of multiplicity, lack of direction, and dispersal, all of which delighted the modernist flâneur. The evolution of the city is best rendered today through the metaphor of the TERRITORY – its limited span is simultaneously a dynamic space of friction: between the center and the peripheries, history and modernity, loved ones and foreigners, memory and oblivion. The question “Where do you live?” prompts us to explore boundaries, to touch forbidden and meddlesome topics, to undermine stereotypes, and above all to observe the urban space from a socio-philosophical, historical, anthropological or city-planning perspective. We've split the festival into three zones - the war zone, promised lands, and the free zone – to illuminate various aspects of 'territory' as a phenomenon: they respectively deal with history and memory, the dream of a better world and the space of revolution and liberation.

Tadeusz Sławek writes in Acro/necro/polis [Akro/nekro/polis]: “The recent history of Europe presents us with not just an architectural, but above all an ethical duty to tackle the ‘empty’ spaces, which are in fact filled with the shadows and memories of the onetime inhabitants (the ‘empty’ Jewish districts and towns). The paradoxical problem of absence is the most difficult and painful dilemma in history, philosophy and architecture alike.[1]  This absence, in the context of pre-war and multicultural Łódź, is one of the most bitter subjects linked with the city’s history. “‘Acropolis’ became a ‘polis,’ to finally take on the role of a ‘necropolis.’ This is visible in the epic poems of Eliot (The Wasteland) and Lawrence, who project the Dantean tradition of hell iconography onto the image of the city, or in the early-modernist urban landscapes of James Thomson, Baudelaire or Rimbaud. And thus city planning and architecture waged a hidden and paradoxical critique of the bourgeois cultural paradigm that created it: what was meant to be a demonstration of the stability and mercantile affluence of the commercial society bore forth icons of annihilation, war, anxiety and impermanence from within.[2]  In no other Polish city do the traces of onetime industrial-commercial magnificence combine so dramatically with the trauma of recent history.
The city is like a map, or perhaps multiple maps, which can not be definitively deciphered, just as it is impossible for memory to hold one lasting image of a city. Contemporary cities frequently have no center. The borders blur between the various spheres and spaces of life: sacrum, work, entertainment or seclusion. The places on the city map shift statuses, undergo redefinition – the old factories become residential buildings, concert halls, theaters and art galleries. The degraded and neglected places are returned to the city, becoming its greatest source of pride. Łódź currently finds itself in a moment of cultural transformation – this may result in the creation of a new utopia – a city of the future, whose tone is set by art, not industry. The city is a living organism: unpredictable, spontaneous, not succumbing to die-cast recipes for success, and – like the human body – demanding its right to creative existence. Art weaves the city’s fabric and disturbs its customary rhythm, but also integrates the society into a joint artistic experience and a feeling of belonging to the reality at hand.
This time around, we would like to study Łódź through the lens of urbanity, and consider to what extent history and memory affect the city’s individuality: its social dimension, architecture, and how it confronts globalization. We intend to revise the myths of Łódź – including the central one: Reymont’s Promised Land – and inquire into their significance in our day, and about the places they occupy in the collective memory of the inhabitants of Łódź.


[1] T. Sławek: Akro/nekro/polis; [in:] Pisanie miasta Czytanie miasta, ed. A. Zeidler-Janiszewska, „Studia Kulturoznawcze” vol. 9, Poznań 1997.
[2] Ibid.