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The birth of the "outdoor age"

Jerzy Fedorowicz

Somewhere in the mid-1950s, a group of graduate artists (1953) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, encouraged by an enticing three-month scholarship of PLN 900 (popular dinner - PLN 2.40) from the foundation of the Ministry of Culture (as a settlement activity in the new Koszalin Province) found fallow land to be plowed. Koszalin was eighty percent destroyed. One restaurant, one cafe, cinema, theater in the organization, and in the villa of the former German city museum, cuttings from Soviet newspapers. Free entrance. We wanted to create an artistic environment here, in these "regained lands". The world was changing around, here it stood still. These were the beginnings.

Ten years later, in September 1963, the "I International Study of Koszalin Plein-air" (the title was to be digestible for the authorities) was launched, and in subsequent editions the name was changed to "Meetings of Artists, Critics and Art Theorists" or "Meetings of Artists and Scientists" (in depending on the situation and the program) with the addition of "Osieki" and "year". The great poet Julian Przyboś named Osieki the "summer capital of Polish art". The periodic meetings lasted until 1981, when the last meeting took place in the tense, external drama of the impending martial law. A trace of these meetings has remained in the Koszalin museum.

These were times when, on the one hand, the state alone, there was central control of all social and cultural life. And the state was controlled only by the right party (PZPR). It should be emphasized that the role of visual artists and their possible impact on society was taken into account by the authorities in the then non-computer and television-free country. He was also a source of concern, as is electronic media today. On the other hand, independent artists who, in the absence of freedom, try to implement the idea of… artistic freedom. Against this background, many incomprehensible and difficult to understand situations occurred.

The idea of meetings of artists, scientists and critics (we were dissociating ourselves from the word open-air too entangled in tradition) was born as a result of grassroots and social activity of artists, and not as the supporters of institutionalized art or the authorities would like to see it. However, in order for this idea to exist in any official form, it was necessary to contact the authorities, that is, the Party's Provincial Committee and the Provincial Office. For the curator of meetings, this is how you can define my role at that time, negotiations with the authorities were inevitable.

So I had meetings with "the authorities", during which I presented the prospects of popularizing art and establishing a museum of contemporary art in Koszalin, and the authorities, having no models of such an undertaking in the country's cultural policy, showed distrust towards our projects. However, a certain factor supporting these ideas was her fear caused by the activity of German compatriots, which was perceived as a threat (in the absence of evidence of the existence of Polish culture in the regained territories).

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