Central Europeans reflect on life before the fall of the Berlin Wall
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“Major” Waldemar Fydrych

The former system was so absurd

Warsaw, Poland, 2009
Polish English

“Major” Waldemar Fydrych, Activist, Founder and Leader of Orange Alternative

During Martial Law Fydrych became known for his dwarf images that were painted on building walls, on top of the paint that was used by the authorities to cover up anti-regime slogans.  In the mid 1980s he began organizing public actions, which he called happenings, as in Surrealism and founded Orange Alternative, an independent artistic movement that has played an important role in Poland’s social and political landscape since the 1980s. 

The former system was so absurd that it was a socialist surrealism. It, in and of itself, was a piece of art.

Yes, we are living in a post-communist country and what that means is that you are free to go out and spend your money. People’s activities are directed toward economic survival. They work non-stop for corporations and then only have energy left for shopping.

There are still many problems. The developers have more power than people who are trying to preserve green areas. When someone is arrested they are considered guilty and have to prove their innocence. There is corruption and fraud everywhere and a crisis of values in society.

My aim with Orange Alternative is, and has always been, to achieve, through happenings and other forms of activism, the aesthetics of individual freedom and to inspire people to reject apathy and to attack the problems in society.

In Poland there are only three places when you can feel free: in churches, but only for the meditations, in prisons, but not everyone can go to prison, and on the streets - they are the freest places.

This interview was in Polish and English and included Agata Podemska

Photos: 1. Prykiel Henryk from the book Orange Alternative
             2. Michalak Mieczystaw from the book Orange Alternative
             3. Campaign poster, The Dwarf for President 2002 from the 
                 book, Orange Alternative 

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