The SURVIVAL Art Review, one of the largest reviews of contemporary art in public space in Poland, will be held in Wrocław for the 17th time.
The 17th edition of the SURVIVAL Art Review will be held at ul. Wiśniowa 36 in Wrocław, on the premises of the former Railway Hospital (previously: the Jewish Hospital). It will focus on topics connected with healing the urban and architectural fabric.
In Poland after 1989, the interest in abandoned buildings, especially those located in large city centres, began to rise. The political transformation and the ensuing economic changes resulted in the appearance of buildings in urban areas that seemed to be doomed to long-term uselessness due to the lack of industrial investors’ interest. Often entered into the register of historic monuments, the old warehouses and factories became a thorny issue for local governments, eager to convert the unused areas into residential plots. The process of adapting historic facilities to serve new functions has begun in Poland only recently.
Being aware of the value of industrial heritage, investors started to convert industrial facilities into office buildings, shopping centres or residential buildings with flats that were often among the most expensive ones on the market. Despite this, some abandoned buildings, especially those triggering negative connotations, such as prisons or hospitals, still failed to attract any interest. In the last few years, several historic hospitals, all of which were located near the city centre, have been abandoned in Wrocław alone.
At present, most of them are undergoing revitalisation and commercialisation for offices or residential purposes. Is it therefore true that such a complete departure from the previous function can remedy the problem of empty buildings or ruins in the city, change public thinking about them and blur the memory of difficult, often traumatic personal stories associated with them?
In medicine, “concealment” may refer to shielding a patient from the diagnosis. It can also refer to non-obvious phenomena which for various reasons have not yet been covered by conventional knowledge, e.g. statistics. We invite artists representing all visual arts disciplines to submit your ideas for works to be presented during the 17th edition of the SURVIVAL Art Review, which will be held in a highly symbolic place venue – the old Jewish Hospital, which is currently undergoing the greatest transformation in its history. The submitted ideas should make a reference to the motto of this edition: Concealed.
The Jewish Hospital / The District Railway Hospital
At the end of the 19th century, the Jewish Commune in Wrocław decided to erect a modern hospital that would serve the needs of the constantly growing Jewish community in Silesia and meet the requirements of contemporary medicine. Financed exclusively by private donors (who raised 1,650,000 German marks), the stately complex was build in the years 1901–1903 according to the design of Reinhard Herold, an architect from Berlin. The construction was supervised by well-known Wrocław architects, brothers Richard and Paul Ehrlich.
The magnificent complex was situated on a vast plot of land located in the posh district of Krzyki. The hospital wards were surrounded by greenery while the inner courtyard contained a large park, which, combined with picturesque architectural details inspired by the Silesian Renaissance, created a peaceful atmosphere of a sanatorium. At the moment of its construction, it was the most modern hospital in Wrocław and the second largest Jewish hospital in Germany. The patients’ rooms were planned in a way that guaranteed easy access to them and as much daylight and fresh air as possible. The patients could also use terraces and deckchairs. The sterile operating theatres were equipped according to the instructions of Jan Mikulicz-Radecki, a world-famous surgeon. One of the rooms contained a synagogue for the personnel and patients. The hospital was later slightly expanded; for example, the first X-ray suite in Wrocław opened here in 1927. By the mid-1930s, the wards had a total capacity of 400 beds (treatment, irrespective of the patient’s religion, was financed by private donors), which situated the hospital among the biggest ones in the city.
Many outstanding doctors worked here, including Prof. Georg Gottstein, Dr Siegmund Hadd or Ludwig Guttmann (born in 1899 in Toszek), a famous neurosurgeon who, having left for England, became a staunch promoter of sport for disabled people and eventually established the Paralympics. In 1966 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Just before leaving Wrocław, during the Night of Broken Glass, Guttman admitted over 60 Jewish “patients” to his ward by faking their medical documentation. In this way he saved them from prison or deportation to camps.
In 1939, Nazi authorities confiscated the hospital and turned it into a facility for the military. During the second world war and the siege of Wrocław, the complex suffered significant damage. After the war it was taken over by the Polish State Railways. Following a renovation and expansion, in 1970 it was opened by prime minister Piotr Jaroszewicz as the District Railway Hospital. Later it became famous for its plastic surgery ward, where the first breast reconstruction using a flap from the abdomen and the first sex reassignment surgery in Poland was performed. The hospital was eventually closed down in 2015.
SURVIVAL 17 Art Review | Concealed
28.06–2.07 2019 | Pod Ciśnieniem
Aleja Wiśniowa 36, Wrocław
Michał Bieniek, Anna Kołodziejczyk, Ewa Pluta, Daniel Brożek
Organizer: Art Transparent Foundation