Zaspa, the Polish neighborhood that became an outdoor art gallery


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A priori, Zaspa had everything against him to appear in travel guides. Polish bedroom neighborhood of large concrete towers with gray as the conductive thread, built in the 70s with the functional and uniform design that characterizes the housing blocks erected by the Soviet Union throughout its territory. Little or nothing had to be done to rival the beauty of the reconstructed historic center of Gdansk (northern Poland ) .
But a priori is a term of those that are used to speak based on probability, figures and stable and manageable material. A priori is a term that could not foresee that the financial crisis of the 80s would make the plans outlined for this neighborhood fall into oblivion and that it would be art, in the form of wall paintings and graffiti, which years later would allow to face the social problems that had developed in the neighborhood.

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Zaspa, from dormitory neighborhood to outdoor art gallery

Zaspa, el barrio polaco que se convirtió en una galería de arte al aire libre

Art as an engine that changes profiles, gives hope and generates opportunities © IKM w Gdansku (Flickr)

"The first murals were created in Zaspa thanks to Rafał Roskowiński [Polish artist], who organized the international mural festival, " they explain to from the Institute of Urban Culture of the city.

It was 1997 and the city celebrated its 1, 000 years of existence. From Zaspa they presented her with the first 10 murals of what is now a collection that already has 60 pieces.

And the idea of ​​creating an outdoor gallery with murals returned to the neighborhood in 2009 . Then, "Gdansk struggled to win the title of European Capital of Culture 2016 and artist Piotr Szwabe aka Pisz curated the first edition of the Monumental Art Festival . "

Funded by the Institute of Urban Culture, an institution managed by the City Council, this festival was born with an expiration date, the resolution of this title that finally fell to the Polish Wrocław and San Sebastian.

Zaspa, el barrio polaco que se convirtió en una galería de arte al aire libre

Getting neighbors to be in daily contact with art © IKM w Gdansku (Flickr)

However, during its seven editions, it added 38 new wall paintings and graffiti by artists from all over the world to this outdoor urban art gallery, meeting its local priorities. "One of its objectives was to visually enhance the uniform space of this block district and allow its neighbors to be in daily contact with art, " they say from the Institute of Urban Culture.
In addition, since then, “we have not stopped the collection. In recent years a series of murals have been created: one in honor of Tamara Łempicka (Polish painter) or The Last Judgment in pixels because the famous painting by Hans Memling is the National Museum of Gdansk. ”

Thus, “thanks to the Monumental Art Collection, Zaspa is one of the most famous apartment blocks in Poland. He has obtained worldwide recognition, media attention and receives trips from foreign tourists, ”they analyze.
“Zaspa is very well maintained and is a green and colorful neighborhood. It is very good to live here: it is a quiet place and its beautiful surroundings have made it one of the most desired areas to live in Gdansk ”.

Zaspa, el barrio polaco que se convirtió en una galería de arte al aire libre

The neighborhood has become one of the most desirable areas to live in the city © IKM w Gdansku (Flickr)

And it is that Zaspa became handsome (and continues to do so) allowing artists the same creative freedom that in their day had the architects who raised their blocks in what were the facilities of an old airport near the sea.

Thus, the murals have penetrated the local community and its language . “It's not uncommon to hear 'see you near the pilot' or 'see you at the points'. These phrases refer to the most characteristic murals in the neighborhood. ”

Because yes, this collection gave the neighborhood an identity and its neighbors a feeling of pride that has led some of them to mobilize and launch a project of local guides that started in 2011 to publicize its history.

Zaspa, el barrio polaco que se convirtió en una galería de arte al aire libre

Hour and a half walk through the history of Zaspa © IKM w Gdansku (Flickr)

After a half-year training in which they learned about the authors of the paintings, the origin of the initiative and the details of the works, these guides “are the ambassadors and the best source of knowledge about this large-scale art gallery created in your district . "
For an hour and a half, they talk about the history of Zaspa and, with it, about the history of Poland; of their legends, of their architecture, of the curiosities and anecdotes of each mural, of the authors' trajectory and, of course, they answer the questions that visitors want to ask them.In summer they organize three tours per week . You can get all the information about these routes and make your reservation through the Cultural Information Point .

A shared publication of Murale Gdańsk Zaspa (@muralegdanskzaspa) on Sep 3, 2016 at 5:43 p.m. PDT
See 10 photos

Zaspa, from dormitory neighborhood to outdoor art gallery