WHAT MAKES A VILLAGE? – outdoor exhibitions

Kraków I Nowy Sącz

– exhibitions open –
Kraków: September 21, 2018 (Friday), 12.00, Wolnica Square
Nowy Sącz: September 23, 2018 (Sunday), 13.00, Sądecki Ethnographic Park


Does a fascination with the village mean abandoning the city? Is it possible – when referring to village traditions – to escape restrictive norms? Can one dare to experiment? Is it possible to use local sources for inspiration without duplicating their well-known motifs? How can we awaken the power of heritage? Two of our outdoor exhibitions attempt to answer these questions – What Makes a Village? Playing with Tradition / Playing with Imagination will take place on the Wolnica Square in Kraków, and in the Sądecki Ethnographic Park we will present What Makes a Village? On Your Own / Custom-made to Fit.  


The Ethnographic Museum in Kraków’s exhibitions propose a fresh look at the Polish village and its heritage (our shared heritage?), without preconceived notions. They are part of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship’s initiative A Unique Village in Lesser Poland*, a competition that started two years ago. This contest draws our attention to our shared values, such as landscapes and the responsible planning of public space. The exhibitions What Makes a Village? explore these ideas. One exhibition will be part of the permanent exhibition of the Sądecki Ethnographic Park while the other fills the Wolnica Square in Kraków. Both of them are based on the collection of the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, and are in line with the Museum’s mission to collaborate with artists and craftsmen. Old artifacts from the lives of people figure in our exhibitions as an inspiration for thinking about contemporaneity and transformations in the world.


Playing with tradition and imagination on the Wolnica Square in Kraków


This exhibition presents the activities of the Kraków Workshop Society (1913–26). Its members as artists-designers combined their fascination for traditional culture with respect for craftsmanship and their belief that everyone has a sense of beauty. They did not try to copy folklore, but rather filter its motifs, forms and technical feats according to their own tastes. They designed practical, beautiful objects and often hired children and youths to make them, as they believed that the key to creating unique and exceptional ornaments is actually a lack of artistic training and an imagination unrestrained by education. Two women in particular stood out among the Workshop novices – the sisters Józefa and Zofia Kogut. Their works are our starting point for the chronological arrangement of the exhibition on Wolnica Square. 


The idea of transforming the Wolnica Square was directly inspired by the Workshop activities and our exhibition continues their creative experiment. The exhibition on Wolnica Square conveys a fascination with traditional culture, but its appeal does not rely on a canonical understanding of tradition, but rather on  creative interpretation and imaginative play. One can stroll around the exhibit, sit down for a while, play a little – in short, one can freely spend their time and find something for himself/herself. Wooden figurines, modelled after tiny dolls, populate the square, which until recently was an almost empty space. The square becomes more lively thanks to the colours and patterns mirroring Workshop drawings. The installations also  depict the former inhabitants of Wolnica Square, a place that functioned as a space for cultural and trade exchange before the Second World War (the name “Wolnica” comes from forum liberum, i.e. the right to free trade which allowed merchants to sell meat outside butcher shops once a week). The Square was a place where neighbours from the Kazimierz district would meet, and where local and foreign craftsmen, along with people from villages near Kraków, would come to sell vegetables, geese, and cheese. Could they help but to observe and learn from each other? 


WHAT MAKES A VILLAGE? Playing with Tradition / Playing with Imagination
Wolnica Square, Kraków
Mon–Sun, free admission

While the exhibition on Wolnica Square is open, you can see the original objects from the Krakow Workshop Society at the exhibition inside the Ethnographic Museum, located in the town hall, Wolnica Square 1 (free admission). 


On Your Own and Custom-made to Fit in Nowy Sącz


This exhibition joins the open-air museum in Nowy Sącz and tells a story about the most important components of a village – one we can explore, thanks to the ethnographic collection. Six artistic installations near wooden-fenced corrals and huts encourage us to explore village heritage in a new way – personally, and on your own.


The exhibit “Community” presents photographs of former inhabitants from Lesser Poland, representatives of various ethnic and religious groups. It reminds us about the close, interdependent cohabitation – often marked by crises and tensions – which was the foundation for building communal ties in villages. The Installations “Materials”, “Objects”, “Skill” and “Invention” are constructed artistically according to slightly altered crafting methods and village tools – the proof of the creativity of our grandfathers and grandmothers, who organised their world with the help of local materials utilising their own skills and clever inventions, passing them down from one generation to another. The installation “Shapes” is an original interpretation of the works by Karol Wójciak-Heródek from Lipnica Wielka. It will take you to the realm of signs and values, highlighting their power. Can we, the inhabitants of contemporary cities and villages, find something here for ourselves?     


WHAT MAKES A VILLAGE? On Your Own and Custom-made to Fit
Sądecki Ethnographic Park (branch of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz)
from 15.10: Tues–Sun 10:00–18:00 (last admission 16:00)
from 16.10: Tues–Sun 9:00–15:00  (last admission 13:00)


The final round of contest A Unique Village in Lesser Poland will be accompanied by a photograph exhibition.
The Galician Town (branch of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz)
ul. Lwowska 226
September 23–30, 2018
from 15:10: Tues–Sun 10:00–18:00 (last admission 17:00)
from 16:10: Tues–Sun 9:00–16:00 (last admission 15:00)

* The contest A Unique Village in Lesser Poland, organised by the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, is an endeavour valorising rural communities actively working to improve the attractiveness of their region, attending to landscape and architectural/urban design, engaged in the preservation of their cultural heritage, and promoting the social integration of residents.