0123 A Place of Memory – Monument – Counter-Monument

Artistic strategies of commemoration in Krakow's district of Podgórze

  • Wojciech Szymański (Author)
    Krakow/ Wrocław

    Dr. Wojciech Szymański holds a PhD in art history. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of History of Modern Art at the Institute of Art History of the University of Wrocław. He is a freelance curator and art critic as well as member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). He is the author of numerous academic and critical essays as well as curator of over a dozen group and solo shows and art projects. He has collaborated with many outstanding artists, including Marta Deskur, Janina Kraupe-Świderska, Paulina Ołowska, Joanna Rajkowska, Karol Radziszewski and Łukasz Skąpski. His current research focuses on visual memory of the Great War. His research project "Images of/from the Great War. Modes of representation of the Great War (1914-1918) in Polish art" is carried out within the framework of the post-doctoral programme awarded by the National Centre of Science.

  • Karolina Kolenda (Translator)

Identifiers (Article)


In recent years, Krakow's district of Podgórze has witnessed the erection of several works in public space that are concerned with the memory of the place. A monumental piece erected by Witold Cęckiewicz in the 1960s in the former Płaszów Concentration Camp has been joined by contemporary works. It is especially the Ghetto Heroes Square and its direct vicinity that have been addressed by artists and designers who, through their works, i.e. Mateusz Okoński's Purification, Łukasz Skąpski's 10 cubic metres of Krakow's wintertime air, and a structure in the form of multiple chairs by Lewicki and Łatak's studio entered into a dialogue with the paradigm of counter-monumentality and postmemory. For common viewers and casual passers-by, as well as for residents of the district, these works are hardly evocative of recent history, or the events they are meant to commemorate. Do these works, with their consciously taken position on the verge of the visible, that is, on the verge of what can be considered art, fulfil their commemorative role? Can the excess of the invisible change at some point into the visible? These questions offer a starting point not only for the discussion of the above-mentioned works in the context of analogous creations in contemporary art of the last two decades, but also for a wider discussion of monumental and counter-monumental art after the Shoah.



monument, counter-monument, Shoah, Second World War, Krakow, Podgórze, Płaszów, place of memory, pomnik, antypomnik, Zagłada, II wojna światowa, Kraków, miejsce pamięci