As part of our ongoing investigation into the idea of psychogeography as coined by Debord in 1955 we travelled to Warsaw, Poland in July 2017. Our focus has been on how our personal cartographies of encountered territories can broaden notions of the public while at the same time blurring the distinctions between the natural environment and the built landscape. Rather than the long, time-consuming walks and explorations that usually characterise this movement, our approach takes place on a smaller scale and is tailored to the needs of a precarious worker with short bursts of spare time and often in a state of exhaustion; it is something that happens in the gaps.
Warsaw is a city which has seen so much of Europe's tumultuous history unfold, and has in turn been so fundamentally and inescapably altered by it. The destruction of the Second World War and the tramau of the Holocaust are forever tied to the country's history. The Communist period and the complex mythology of the Solidarity movement which brought those times to a close are likewise indelibly intertwinned with the wider story of the city's place both in recent Polish and European development.
During the five incredible days which without appeal was fortunate enough to spend in Warsaw this past July, we saw these threads explored in three different exhibitions throughout the city. Two of these were organised by the Museum of Modern Art, entitled Polish-Indian Shop and 140 Beats Per Minute, Rave Culture and Art in 1990s Poland. These two exhibitions, which traversed the pivotal year 1989 explored to some extent how some in Poland responded to the realities of their circumstances, both economic and social. A third exhibition, Late Polishness: Forms of Notional Identity after 1989 was hosted by U-Jazdowski and covered a dauntingly significant and very much fluid period of time from the collapse of Communism until the present day. Among other things, it served as a reminder that change and development are never stationary processes, with all the dynamic and unpredictable consequences that that implies.