Emergency Exit


Photography by Jan Smaga

Our answer to Elias's initial brief was pretty subversive. There is a huge discussion of the stadiums and sport complexes, it's a major political subject in Warsaw. We looked at how these great utopias and huge concepts of planning and sports actually fall apart after some time. We looked at the buildings that were built during the communist times and how they fall apart and how they function in the city as ruins.

What is the secondary after life as a ruin? So the starting point was also to not make a representation of architecture but to create an experience and a situation that the body is reintegrated into the exhibition.

Why did you want people to do something, to lose control? To lose dignity and to create a kind of fear? We don't want to dictate what kind of experience it will provoke, maybe they will find it exciting maybe they will be afraid. But it's poetic because we have created a system a machine to escape from the experience of the biennale. You enter the polish pavilion a kind of portable hole from the system of biennale. We take people to the completely surrealistic world. We use the language which doesn't exist in this kind of situation. We're creating a metaphorical machine to jump out of the system and what is controlled and what is planned. When we gave the title 'emergency exist' we referred to the escapism of the oppressive rule of the determined plan. Our destabilisation of the city may provoke the change of behaviour of the whole system – the rule of extremely rare events. We want to create a rumour that in the polish pavilion we can jump into the clouds.

We also make the point of reference to the porous system of science. It's impossible for the city to be determinate. The strategy should integrate the porous open spaces. Our machine makes a hole in the system and the hole can be appropriated by the body or by the imagination. As someone with a paralysing fear of heights it sounds terrifying.

How does it work? Is it safe? Very safe! We are building this abstract hybrid machine to permit this jump, it's a kind of structure made with bird cages, so it's aggregate of the very simple components that work in the space of the pavilion. It's a distorted staircase loosely inspired by the diving boards and ski jumps that we find in ruins, but not yet dismantled, across Warsaw. So you walk up a hybrid staircase and you come to a hole and you jump! There is a sea of clouds and you jump into the unknown. There is a mattress under the cloud and you slide from the mattress and go on. It's like a loop in the space.

You talk about getting out of the conventional systems and masterplanned spaces and so on. What kind of places inspire you? The things that inspired us for this project are spaces in the city that weren't planned as places of meetings but they turn up as a kind of emergent process. For example gossip, rumour, urban legends. Dark energy, like certain news. One of the things that inspire us are people that organise excursions to the sites of catastrophes. The site of the plan crash in Russia, or visiting Chernobyl. Our statement is that we have to reintegrate the body and the dark nature in the city.

What is the atmosphere like in Poland a the moment? It's one of only countries in Europe that is experiencing economic growth, can you sense the change? This is an interesting moment because the economic transformation is already done. We are in the time of the social transformation 20 years after the fall of communism but in the same time the city policy towards the public space is a kind of illusionary dream. We can see the tendency to remove the self emerging phenomena from the city. They still believe that the city should be spectacular and monumental. We think that we should learn how to integrate this self-emerging energy into the urban policy. A lot of things have changed in Poland, economically and it obviously influences the development of culture when already a lot of things are happening in the realm of both architecture and art but still, there are a lot of interesting phenomena but society and the government is not fully aware of the new tendencies or how to develop a system of funding culture.

The society is starting to learn how to spend money on culture so things like art markets don't really exist. The same for the government, we're really in transformation and the current government is not interested in investing in culture because they think culture should be self-funded. This is the problem we're going to find.