SPEAKERS’ CORNER – Warsaw, PO

Juan Duque and Sam De Vocht created a stage out of concrete blocks used to demarcate the mineral square from nature. This podium, acting as a speakers’ corner, is adorned with a flag stating the names of all the trees in the Ujazdowski Parc. Their fellow tree at the entrance of the Ujazdowski Castle was cut down last year. The installation of this speakers’ corner honours the trees that cannot speak out and offers a platform for those that can.

Text written by curator Anna Czaban – Naturomorphic City Garden Festival Warsaw PO
George Orwell called the Speakers Corner, located in the northeast part of Hyde Park in London, one of the minor wonders of the world. From the midnineteenth century, this place has been serving unhampered civic statements and open debates. More places such as the Speakers Corner appeared in the UK, also in London itself. This idea has also spread to other countries.
Juan Duque and Sam De Vocht proposed creating such a place in the park surrounding the Ujazdowski Castle. Our speakers’ corner is to be built in its central point on the square in front of the main entrance to Ujazdowski, which until recently was used as a parking lot. It will be situated next to the place where the chestnut tree used to grow, next to the piece of lawn that remained after it. Its form will be a small platform, built of curbs, which for Juan Duque dealing with proxemics, the relationship of bodies to himself and other objects have a very symbolic meaning in Jazdów City Garden. They are the elements that mark the boundary between the greenery growing untamed in all directions and the evenly arranged cubes of pavements, access roads and parking lots, keeping their structure intact. The curbside podium can also be treated as a trophy, a gesture of freeing nature from the restrictions that urban planners impose onto it.
The project will also include a performative action, during which Juan Duque will proclaim a manifesto to regain space for nature. In it he will invoke artistic and social activities from many years ago such as the one created in 1974 by Jan Berdyszak and Stefan Papps “Karta Łagowska, dealing with the conscious creation of social space, of which nature holds one of the highest values. This will also be a reference to last years heated discussions and protest actions related to the felling of trees in the Białowieża Forest as well as public spaces of Polish cities. After the inauguration, the speaker corner will be open to everyone as a venue for spontaneous speeches.

 

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