11th edition of the WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION festival


“Monumentomania”, as befits an exhibition presenting monuments, couldn’t be packed under a single roof. And so, it also takes place on a small public square right in the middle of Warsaw. There, seven prototypes of monuments – created for the WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION festival – have been placed. We invite you to think of “Monumentomania” more as a call to construct new monuments than as a diagnosis of the current state of monument politics.

But why construct more monuments? And who needs another exhibition about them? Aren’t monuments obsolete? And most of all: in light of all the conflicts erupting over monuments, shouldn’t we discard this medium once and for all?

It seems that we can’t just give up on them – the stake is too high. These public media of memory are just as much about the present and about the conceivable futures, as they are about the past. They are just as much about visualizing a set of desirable social roles, ways of understanding the public sphere, power and community, as they are about canonizing a set of heroes, values, and historical events. Paradoxically, in an age dominated by uncountable, elusive and free-floating images, these heavy, static elements of the urban landscape still have the capability of generating strong emotions, of gaining new meanings and unexpected agency.

It is then not only the ‘content’ of monuments that is important, but also their forms. Pedestals, bronze, enormous figures are ways of establishing a relation between the public and history. They don’t leave much space for dialogue, coercing us into consent and acceptance. A past, represented by static, unattainable stone figures, is in many ways supposed to be just like them – unambiguous, individualistic, authoritative. It’s a history supposedly shaped by outstanding, unwavering heroes and breakthrough events. That is why it would not be enough to use the form of the traditional monument to memorialize even the most progressive and revolutionary male and female heroes, who fought in the name of emancipatory values. The available pedestals and mold structures will simply not accommodate subjects and phenomena from outside of the traditional canon. Subjects (or rather communities) and events (or rather processes) that have hitherto not been represented in the monumental canon need formulas corresponding to their qualities.

To achieve this goal, we first set out to examine – through both artistic and research tools – contemporary monuments in the capital. However, instead of concentrating on the most famous examples, our goal was to survey the general character of Warsaw’s bronze landscape (predominantly the city center). Our goal is not limited to the critique of the local monument sphere – dominated by war and male heroes, by stone, plinth, and the promise of stable aggrandizement. We sought to surpass the gestures of questioning or negating monuments. Instead we wanted to seek for positive and reparative gestures, to create prototypical and exemplary forms of memorializing, which would allow for the recuperation of stories surpassing the dominant historical narrative. Our answer to today’s loudest monuments is not artistic irony or ridicule – such disarmament tends to be brief – but generating a distinct set of prototypical formulas of practicing memory in public spaces and promoting a new vision of history and its role in everyday lives.

The 2019 WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION festival takes place in the ZODIAK Warsaw Pavilion of Architecture and the public square in front of it. The festival consists of three elements: the monument exhibition on the public square, an exhibition mounted in the Zodiak pavilion, and the public program, which includes debates, workshops, guided tours and discussions. The festival will be supplemented by a website presenting the results of sociological research conducted during the festival preparations, as well as a presentation of the long-term research of the Team of Monument Research from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. 

Monument prototypes
Karolina Brzuzan, Róża Duda i Michał Soja, Piotr Łakomy, Olga Micińska, Dominika Olszowy (performance: Jerzy Klonowski, actor & mime), Daniel Rycharski, Łukasz Surowiec.

Józef Gałązka, Karolina Gołębiowska, Daniel Malone i Stanisław Welbel, Gizela Mickiewicz, Jan Możdżyński, Franciszek Orłowski, Witek Orski, Krzysztof Pijarski, Liliana Piskorska, Aleka Polis, Alicja Rogalska, Szymon Rogiński, Daniel Rumiancew, Anna Shimomura, Łukasz Skąpski, Zbiorowy Collective.

Łukasz Zaremba, Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw / Szymon Maliborski, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

Project management
Joanna Turek

Maja Szybińska, Joanna Turek, Zofia Zajkowska

Exhibition Architecture
Aleksander Wadas Studio: Weronika Marek, Anna Odulińska, Aleksander Wadas

Detailed design of monuments
Magdalena Romanowska

Key visual and graphic design
Edgar Bąk Studio

Collaborators of research teams
Social research team managed by Maja Głowacka and Zofia Sikorska; research team: Katarzyna Bartosik, Anna Gańko, Bartłomiej Jankowski, Ludmiła Kruszewska, Alexandra Senn, Krzysztof Średziński

Monument Research Team of the Department of Landscape Art at SGGW, managed by doctor ingeneer Kinga Rybak-Niedziółka; research team: dr inż. Anna Długozima, dr inż. Ewa Kociacka-Beck, dr inż. Izabela Myszka, mgr Daria Szarejko, mgr Rafał Myszka, mgr Mateusz Wieczorek

Editing and proofreading
Justyna Chmielewska, Kacha Szaniawska

Mohamed Mahmoud, Anna Marciniak, Magda Szcześniak, Agnes Monod-Gayraud

Production of set design elements
Studio Robot (Krzysztof Czajka, Łukasz Wysoczyński)

Jakub Antosz, Marek Franczak, Piotr Frysztak, Szymon Ignatowicz, Artur Jeziorek, Paweł Sobczak, Marcin Szubiak, Michał Ziętek

Paweł Brylski, Kacha Szaniawska, Iga Winczakiewicz, Magdalena Zięba-Grodzka

Educational program
Dominika Jagiełło, Marta Przasnek, Marta Przybył, Katarzyna Witt, Zespół Użyj Muzeum

Photo documentation
Daniel Chrobak

Paweł Bojemski, Kinga Cieplińska, Joanna Kasperowska, Jerzy Klonowski, Agnieszka Kołacińska, Agnieszka Kosela, Andrzej Kowalski, Krakowski Chór Rewolucyjny, Katarzyna Król, Anna Nagadowska, Dagmara Rykalska, Katarzyna Sałbut, Igor Szulc, Daniel Woźniak, Artur Wosz, Piotr Wójcik, Katarzyna Zachara, Szymon Żydek


  • Aldona Machnowska-Góra, Dyrektor koordynator ds. kultury i polityki społecznej Biura Kultury Warszawy
  • Hanna Jakubowicz, Dyrektor Zarządu Mienia Warszawy
  • Marlena Happach, Dyrektor Biura Architektury i Planowania Przestrzennego Warszawy
  • Anna Brzezińska-Czerska, Monika Komorowska, Biuro Architektury i Planowania Przestrzennego Warszawy
  • Arkadiusz Pawlak, Małgorzata Smoktunowicz, Biuro Rozwoju Gospodarczego Warszawy 

The National Digital Archives

and also:

Villa Arson (Nice), Patricia Allunno, Jean-Noël Fessy, Nat Masseglia, Séverine Odet i Agathe Weisner, Klaudia Podsiadło, Suzel Prio, Marcus Seidner, Agnieszka Żuk

Olga Bilewicz, Tomasz Fudala, Bartłomiej Gowin (Gowin & Siuta Sp.j.), Bartek Górka, Mateusz Halawa, Julia Kern, Kinga Kurysia, Nat Masseglia, Michał Pospiszyl, Olga Rosłoń-Skalińska (Zarząd Zieleni, Jacek Sosnowski, Klaudia Podsiadło, Adam Przywara, Szymon Sławiec, Magda Szcześniak, Marek Szołtun (Szołtun Kamieniarstwo), Marta Wódz, Adrian Zatorski (ZAB-BUD). 

Photo documentation:

See more images

Other events from that cycle: