Praga's ghost signs /2015-16

This project is about Praga — a district in Warsaw, its history, visual aesthetics, its map transferred into street typography. It's an attempt to tell about the urban space using its visual language directly on the city streets. It's an invitation to play an intellectual game in the streets and at the same time a reflection on the history of these streets and a new start of the discussion about their future.

What is it going to look like? Historical texts about Praga are transferred into street signs and installed in the form of so-called 'ghost signs' along the routes through Praga's streets.

Why Praga? Even though old neglected signs can be found in many places all over Poland, Praga, on one hand, seems to concentrate both them and the overall aesthetics of decline and decay. On the other hand, Praga is developing rapidly and these changes will eventually destroy the way Praga looks now, its old streets, buildings and street signs.

A removed street sign means that the place it used to signify is gone, only a subtle trace remains and soon it will be gone too. I take it as a symbol of disappearing old Praga.

Signs are interesting to me as elements of urban text — and I intend to add to that text a couple more sentences, using the same visual code that street signs use.

The moment I care about the most is when an occasional passerby suddenly notices that old street signs start to form a continuous text — the text about these very streets and houses the way they were 20, 50, 100 years ago.

The project's installation was cancelled by the collaborating institution in autumn 2016 for 'being non-profitable'.

I'd like to thank Rene Wawrzkiewicz and Ewa Klekot for guidance during the making of this project.

Praga's ghost signs

One of the visualisations made for the project is presented below. It features a phrase "Zbyt mało interesujemy się Pragą, a szkoda" ("We care little about Praga and it's a pity" from Polish) from an article called "Odkrywamy Pragę!" in the "Kurier Warszawski" magazine from the August, 4th 1939.

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Praga's ghost signs

Another visualisation made for the project. It cites Oskar Flatt's guide on Wisla banks from 1854: "Praga biedna żyje tylko pożyczaniem od stolicy, przedmieściańskim życiem. Jej świetne godziny już przeszły." ("Poor Praga lives only on borrowing from the capital city, leads a suburban life. Its glorious times had already passed.").

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