Solidarity with Cuba. Redesigning changes

Program of the Lech Walesa Institute


A letter from LWI:

The project Redesigning Changes, consistent with the Lech Walesa Institute’s program, Solidarity with Cuba, intends to provide an exclusive opportunity for young Cuban artists who are an active element of the emerging civil society in Cuba to learn about the Polish road to freedom and the involvement of Polish designers and artists in changes of the political system since the early 1980s.

It is our aim to indicate how artists and designers can take on leadership roles and push for changes in the country they live in. Additionally, the program will offer the young Cubans an unparalleled opportunity to establish new connections with their counterparts in Poland, to lay a new ground for their work, to learn new multi-media techniques and to acquire new skills. The program is designed to provide emerging Cuban artists with time, space, and professional guidance to explore their work in a supportive, thriving, artistic environment.

The current socio-political scene in Cuba might be compared to the Polish reality when Solidarność was formed and later ushered in the chain of events that eventually led to the political and economic transition in the 90s.   “Solidarity” promoted a moral revolution that was to end the mutual suspicion, a degradation of one’s self, corruption of life. First, it brought the freedom from fear and apathy, and then the unanimity of workers, peasants, intelligentsia, journalists, artists and clergy, who fought for the same cause.

The same situation has been created in Cuba. It is thanks to musicians, young bloggers, artists, students and young social activists that the world hears again about the Cuban society and its situation. More and more young activists and students, who do not dream about the future in exile, but want to bring the changes themselves to the island, take the initiative in their hands and inspire society to act.

However, closed on the island, the young artists and activists rarely have an opportunity to draw information from outside, to learn new trends in art and media, and to exchange knowledge and learn how to be an artist with a mission.

The project Redesigning Changes is addressed to those young active Cuban artists, who would participate in an “art-in-residence program” in Poland to study the history of the artistic leaders of the peaceful anti-communist movements in Eastern Europe and the role of design and designers in the context of social, political and economic upheavals. Additionally, our intention is to give to the young artists a space and professional guidance so that they could experiment and reflect on their current work in a thriving artistic environment with access to new media techniques and the outside world of art.

Thus, the LWI’s main project objectives are the following:

1)         To provide young Cuban artists with knowledge, information, skills and techniques necessary to take on leadership roles in Cuban society, based on Eastern European transition experiences;

2)         To link Cuban artists with important artists in Poland and from Europe and provide them with the neutral and free environment to work;

3)         To promote Cuban art in Poland and in Europe (as the residence program is addressed to young artists from Europe who would participate in the same edition of the program) and to enable the artists to exchange the ideas.

The first edition of this project was organized in September – December 2012. During the three-month residency program two Cuban artists participated in numerous cultural activities and events in Warsaw, Łódź and Kraków. These meetings, seminars and lectures turned to be inspiration for their artistic and civic work which effected in the exhibition “Fragmentos” presented in one of the galleries in Warsaw.

At the end of the residence program the artists participated in the workshops “Lesson of the Polish transformation. A plan for Cuba”. It was a two-week training combined of meetings with the leaders of the Polish Solidarity movement and the authors of the success of the Polish transformation.

Based on this successful experience the Lech Walesa Institute and the Center of Contemporary Art, AIR Laboratory ( sees the strong need for extension of the project in 2013 and provide such assistance and new opportunities for more young Cuban artists that cannot freely work in their country. Thus we intend to invite to the program two (or three) artists from Cuba for the period of June-August 2013.

The artists are selected by curators from Center of Contemporary Art, the Lech Walesa Institute and the independent groups in Cuba (such as Estado de SATS). The curators asses the value of artists work but this is not the only factor that decides about accepting to the program. It is important that an artist is socially active and is an artist with a mission.

Based on the fact that in Cuba the immigration policy has been changed, we plan this program to be regular and cyclical and consequently enable us to provide constant and complex support to the artists from the island that find our geographical region inspirational in their artistic and social work.

Our intention is to invite maximum 5 artists every year, preferably during the summer period, however, we also consider the spring period (March-May).

The total cost of inviting one artist to Poland for a three-month program is $10.000 (flight, insurance, visa procedure, accommodation, per diems, curatorial assistance, materials, translation services, local transport, and other direct costs).

In order to begin the procedure of inviting artists for a June-August round, the LWI would require to have the funds available no later than at the end of March 2013.

Contact person:

Agnieszka Grątkiewicz, Project Officer

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ph. +48 22 622 22 20