Stary Browar: Fifty Percent Business, Fifty Percent Art
#photography & visual arts
small, Stary Browar: Fifty Percent Business, Fifty Percent Art, Stary Browar, photo: Jakub Wittchen, full_stary_browar_1_770.jpg
Located in the heart of Poznań, Stary Browar is a unique shopping centre that shows off a concept from founder Grażyna Kulczyk: her 50/50 principle. According to this idea, all her projects are half based on art, and half based on other elements. Stary Browar, a tastefully revitalised 19th-century brewery, is a place where art mixes in equal proportions with commerce.
stary browar in poznań
The most cultural mall in the world
Shopping malls try to position themselves on the market in various ways in order to attract visitors. That’s why they always aim to be the next biggest or most luxurious shopping mall in the world. However, the idea behind Stary Browar (the Old Brewery) doesn't quite fall in line with this extravagant pursuit of material abundance. Rather, it tries to offer an intellectual counterpart to its commercial offer – it’s a place where you can shop while admiring top-notch works of modern art. Could this be the most cultural mall in the world? Given that Stary Browar, apart from a remarkable collection of modern art, also houses a major contemporary dance venue, an art gallery, film screenings, and concerts, it seems likely.
Patron of the arts
The idea for a mall that focuses on art as much as it does on commerce came from Grażyna Kulczyk, Stary Browar’s founder. She is a well-known patron of the arts, whose extensive collection includes the works of artists Paweł Althamer, Piotr Uklański or Rosemarie Trockel. Her involvement with the art scene has recently reached its zenith when Kulczyk, who has been a representative of Poland on the London’s Tate programme board for years, became a member of one of the programme boards of the Museum of Modern Art in New York - the Modern Women’s Fund Committee.
When she decided to revitalize the ruined brewery that once stood in place of the centre, she initially wanted to create a place dedicated solely to art. However she came to the conclusion that without funding her project wouldn’t function as intended. As a result she expanded her concept to include commercial areas, which would provide the money needed for the cultural activity. That’s how the idea of Stary Browar, 'a business and art centre', was formed. Kulczyk’s passion for art thus left an indelible mark on the mall, which opened in 2003.
Hidden shadow of the moon
From Stary Browar’s website, one can learn that all of Kulczyk’s projects comply to her 50-50 principle, according to which they are based half on art and half on other elements. Even though the idea is controversial to some, Stary Browar has thrived as a place where commerce and art meet in equal proportions. The mall’s shops, restaurants, and cafes operate in spaces that feature artworks by acclaimed creators. In Stary Browar’s commercial areas one can see for instance Igor Mitoraj’s scultpture Blask księżyca / Moonlight, or Choe U-Ram’s installation Ukryty Cień Księżyca / Hidden Shadow of the Moon.
Another way of encountering art in the centre is visiting the Art Stations gallery that’s located in one of the commercial areas. This gallery regularly hosts exhibitions of contemporary art that feature works by important artists such as Hubert Czerepok or Tim Knowles.
Another section of Stary Browar, the Malt House, is devoted to performing arts. Its venue Studio Słodownia +3 is best known for its contemporary dance stagings. This year for instance, noted Canadian choreographer Rebecca Lazier presented her show There Might Be Others in this space. Studio Słodownia +3 is also a venue for concerts and film screenings. The remaining venues devoted to art in the Malt House are used as exhibition spaces or for organising cultural workshops.
Stary Browar is a renovated 19th-century brewery, and the architecture of the entire mall is based on the style of the buildings that once made up this plant. The centre uses fragments of these old buildings and these structures’ construction elements and seems to evoke the spirit of the defunct brewery. Stary Browar has won awards numerous times for its architecture. Diverging opinions notwithstanding, the institution has undeniable carved a place for itself in the art and business world all at once.
Written by Marek Kępa, Summer 2015