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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 2, 2011
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Listening to the Vistula: Art and the River
September 2, 2011   
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An unusual series of artworks and installations centered on the Vistula river and called Vistula Sculpture Park can be viewed between the ¦więtokrzyski and ¦rednicowy bridges on the river’s eastern bank.

The exhibition has been organized by the STEP Association for Education and Progress, a young Warsaw collective seeking to promote urban art. It is part of the association’s efforts to revive the largely undeveloped riverbank.

The six exhibits by students of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts were chosen in a contest held at the beginning of the summer vacations. The common thread is the topic of the river. The first projects opened to the public in mid-July, including an “appliance for listening to the Vistula,” an acoustic tube amplifying the sounds of nature amid the city bustle. Another installation, a giant “plait” made of sand bags emerging out of the river, refers to legends about the Vistula’s long-haired mermaids. A recently added installation, built from waste fished out of the river, depicts figures commonly seen on city streets that have been placed in novel contexts. Sculptures by young artists Bruno Althamer and Diana Grabowska include a street criminal carrying a dollhouse, skinheads engrossed in meditation, and a bearded girl wearing a red dress.

The exhibits are meant to be interactive and draw attention to environmental concerns, according to the association. The Vistula Sculpture Park follows a series of other art projects on the riverbanks, such as Bridge Art, a series of open-air performances on the Vistula’s bridges.

STEP’s past initiatives include art exhibitions in other unusual areas of the cityscape, such as the subway. The association operates a miniature art gallery in the middle of a platform at Warsaw’s central railway station. It also runs the “2b” art gallery on Bukowińska Street, featuring the works of young Polish artists and open around the clock.
Joanna Kozłowska
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