View from the Window is a participatory project involving neighbors whose windows overlook the artist-run space DOMIE. DOMIE is a single standing house in the yard of Św. Marcin – the most famous street of Posnań city. After 1989, the building and the yard, were abandoned and became a ruin. The building was previously an important a cultural site; it hosted a Fotoplastykon, or Kaiser’s Panorama (an early precursor to cinema). Since 2018, an artist collective has taken over the building, creating a social, artistic, economic and architectural experiment of collective care. It is non institutional, artist-run initiative, embracing groups excluded from the public debate who do not fit the current Polish political agenda, including LGBT+ people and sex workers, for example.
The artists and youngsters of DOMIE are considered a foreign element of the hood, a threat to the old order. The View From the Window project aims to enhance dialogue between the local neighbours and the new inhabitants of DOMIE, since they may not have the tools to acknowledge that they can gain something from each other. Both communities deal with traumas, poverty, and loneliness. Creative engagement in overcoming the obstacles and treating them as opportunities, can build bridges. Building up a sense of trust in the neighbourhood can start an ongoing exchange, promote engagement and strengthen agency. The war in Ukraine has brought a new context to the project, as many refugees have become new members of the neighborhood.
In March 2022 we started a series of picnics in the front yard of DOMIE, to which all the local neighbours are invited. We meet for a meal and get to know each other by spending a Sunday afternoon together. The yard is in terrible condition: there is wild parking, trash, uncontrolled toilet, and place of daily alcohol use. During these meetings we start a common conversation about the idea and future of the yard – creating an urban garden together, moving away the cars, creating a safer space to spend time together. The neighbours bring ideas, engage in work for the benefit of a common yard and the emerging community.
When photographed from above, due to the unusual shape of roof, DOMIE visually resembles the first photography ever taken by Nicephore Niepce in Le Gras (France). In the process of building trusted neighbourhood relationships, I kindly ask the neighbours to photograph the view of DOMIE from their own windows – which are shared back to them, and displayed inside DOMIE as part of an exhibition. By playing with this visual connotation in relation to our neighborhood, I want to evolve the feeling of something dear and beautiful, connected to memories and storytelling, a place that we should take care of and treat as a treasure that belongs to all of us. View From the Window simultaneously uncovers the history of the building, including cherished childhood memories of the magic of the Fotoplastikon, and enacts repair of the ruined building, navigating a better future through shared ideas of space and place.