The festival takes place in autumn, when most cultural activities enter galleries and institutions. NARRACJE provides an excuse to leave the house on two November evenings and explore the city. The City Culture Institute and Gdańsk City Gallery invite curators from Poland and beyond to take part in the open call. The jury is composed of: Ewa Łączyńska–Widz – director, BWA Tarnów; Olga Wysocka – deputy director, ZACHĘTA. National Gallery of Art, Stach Szabłowski – curator, Piotr Stasiowski – director, Gdańsk City Gallery, Aleksandra Szymańska – director, City Culture Institute. For detailed rules and regulations, go to: www.narracje.eu and www.ikm.gda.pl/narracje.
Throughout the last decade, the profile of the festival has changed: spectacular light installations quickly gave way to forms that critically analyse the space and enable the initiation of a closer dialogue with it. With each year, NARRACJE has entered the city deeper and deeper – leaving the strict centre to grow, with rising courage, within further districts, which would themselves become co-organizers and co-curators. The city lends its stories to NARRACJE, suggests themes, provokes solutions, resists certain realizations and favours others.
The strength of the festival lies in the respect with which its creators approach the living organism of the city and their sense of how to work with space and its legitimate residents – the local inhabitants. Conscious of the temptations and dangers, curators and artists ensure that works created for specific locations do not stigmatize the visited districts or objectify their residents.
Projects presented during NARRACJE are created in various techniques, spanning audiovisual, light, interactive, performative and film works. A substantial percentage is created especially for the festival and is of a site-specific nature.
The programme of previous editions of NARRACJE is available in our online archive: http://narracje.eu/narracje2019/o-festiwalu/archiwum/.
NARRACJE #13 will take place in the Przeróbka district of Gdańsk. Przeróbka is a small working-class district without any significant institutions, a church or even a park. However, the architecture is rather varied – the neighbourhood features small houses with gardens, red-brick tenements, and even 10-storey tower blocks. Its history may be summarized in one sentence: until the 20th century, this was meadowland where rafters would dry – or “process” – grain later sold in Gdańsk (in Polish, Przeróbka stands for “processing”), and then the small local settlement evolved into a working-class district, whose life was governed by the local rolling stock factory (Zakłady Taboru Kolejowego).
The geographical location of Przeróbka is extremely interesting, as it occupies the western part of Port Island. Port Island is the second largest island of Gdańsk (after Sobieszewo Island). It was created in 1840, when – owing to an ice jam upstream – the swelling waters of the Vistula found a new outlet to the Bay of Gdańsk, cutting off the area of today’s Port Island from the remaining part of the Vistula Spit. The new Vistula outlet was dubbed the Bold Vistula (Wisła Śmiała), and the old river bed was called Dead Vistula (Martwa Wisła). In 1912, the Siennicki Bridge – the largest drawbridge in Gdańsk – was put into service. Before that, Przeróbka was only accessible from the Gdańsk side via a ferry that passed by the legendary Gęsia Karczma inn, which had hosted King John III Sobieski and tsar Peter I.
In 1912 construction began on the Central Railway Workshops Gdańsk-Troyl. Workshop buildings were located across a 30 ha area, and included the two largest industrial shop floors in Gdańsk Pomerania. The architecture of the buildings was sophisticated and coherent. The railway workshops were the second largest employer in Gdańsk after the shipyards, which is why houses for workers soon started cropping up in the vicinity, which greatly changed the district’s character and appearance.
According to accounts of the inhabitants, post-war Przeróbka resembled a village or distant suburb rather than a district of a large city – the houses were surrounded by large orchards, gardens and yards, where livestock was kept. With time, however, gardens gave way to new houses. In the 1950s, two-storey buildings were erected on Lenartowicza Street – their sloping roofs matched the period architecture from the Free City of Danzig. In the 1960s, the main entertainment venues were the Zorza Cinema (the building currently houses a paint shop) and the Sezam Club located in the canteen building next to the main entrance to ZNTK railway workshops.
In the 1970s and 80s, the locals would seek entertainment in the Kamena café located in the very heart of the district and later also at the Stara Karczma Gdańska, a pub near the Dead Vistula.
The 1990s and the resulting economic transformations brought unemployment to the district. The appearance of the streets was getting progressively worse. Towards the end of the millennium, work began on the construction of a modern road leading to the port – to this end, the John Paul II Bridge of the 3rd Millennium was built. It provided a second option to reach the district and, what is particularly important, relieved the Siennicki Bridge and the residential part of Przeróbka from the bothersome transit transport.
The main streets of Przeróbka were modernized in the 21st century: the tram lines were rebuilt and new stops of the Vienna type were established. Some of the houses were renovated, insulated and painted in pastel colours.
The open call lasts between 14 September and 25 October 2020. Applications may be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by traditional mail to the City Culture Institute’s address: Instytut Kultury Miejskiej, ul. Długi Targ 39/40, 80 – 830 Gdańsk, Poland – with the added note “NARRACJE 2021”.