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0184 Grand Opening
Warszawa, 1992, Venezia, 2015, Arno Brandlhuber, Tobias Hönig, Michal Kempinski

Suggestion for the Polish Pavillon at the 2016 Biennale of Architecture in Venice: The year 2014 in Poland was marked by official celebrations of the 25th aniversary of first democratic elections and the end of communism in the country. Altough back then in the year 1989 the iron curtain was lifted, its shadow remained visible as division between a group of aspiring countries and those to provide the role model for processes of transformation. In 1992 the first McDonald‘s opened in Poland. The place instantly became a symbol of freedom and the longed for Western world. The glass pavillon was named the jewel of Polish post-modernism and herald of new times for architecture in Warsaw. Ironically, in the year of the 25th aniversary of „Polish freedom” the pavilion has been closed down and on the following year it was demolished. Media and the press have called this event „an end to an era”. The skyline of Warsaw since 1950s‘ remains dominated by the Palace of Culture and Science. Its demolition has been considered numerous times during last two decades. The building has come all the way from being a symbol of direct foreign political influence in the country to becoming a commercial building with office space for rent and a cultural icon for contemporary capital of Poland. Architecture – everything manmade and therefore anthropogenic – is always the expression of social circumstances and therefore is decodable always in interrelationship with a communal, as well as a individual mind. Ideologies always favored architecture in comparison to other everyday objects as a medium of their ideologic message. There is no architecture without an ideologic aspect. With the demolition that happened in 2015, also an ideological and cultural heritage has been destroyed – it becomes increasingly difficult to identify the general influence ideology has on architecture, especial- ly for the period after 1989. To keep this influence visible as a basis of critical faculties and con- scious of the fact, that the act of reconstructing is itself highly ideologically connoted, we plea not to erase any more buildings of that time, instead of we ask to integrate them in an dialogic transformation process – both, social and physical. The exhibition juxtaposes the buildings and figures of the Palace of Culture and the building of the first McDonald‘s in Poland and introduces a real fast food bar for visitors inside of the pavillion - with a „view“ to the Palace. The intervention makes an opportunity to make a series of considerations: How do we understand the domestic and the foreign and what assesment criteria do we introduce when talking about these two categories. We are arguing that between a set of two „franchised identities“ a genuine identity could only be defined without confronta- tion but rather with dialogue. With regard to architecures of the 1990‘s, what is the true meaning of the phrase „an end to an era”? Could this refer to substance and meaning of buildings instead of also to matter and physicallity?

© Michal Kempinski