Back to Front is an exhibition about exhibitions: a tribute to the architecture of Polish exhibitions from the 1950s and 1960s – a forgotten yet fascinating moment in the history of exhibition design.
Back to Front is an exhibition about exhibitions. Created to display objects to visitors, temporary exhibition structures often disappear in the background. Back to Front switches the focus onto the structures of exhibition design, bringing them to the fore, and showcases exhibition architecture from an often forgotten yet fascinating time and place in the history of exhibition design: Poland in the 1950s and 1960s.
It is an evocative exhibition featuring sketches, black and white photos and replicas of three-dimensional structures, all of which define a moment of Polish creativity that continues to inspire the world of exhibition design today.
Back to Front shines a light on a historical period in which Poland, re-emerging from the destruction of World War II, developed a distinctive and highly specific language of exhibition architecture. A new school of exhibition design developed in Poland during the 1950s and 1960s. This movement had its own identity and independent form of artistic expression, which could trace its roots to the great universal exhibitions of the 1920s and 1930s – where Polish pavilions were famed for their inventiveness and creativity.
For the context of the Back to Front, imagine life behind the Iron Curtain after the Yalta Conference. Poland’s most creative minds found themselves living in a country that could only dream of national independence and freedom of expression. The great international fairs and exhibitions provided a refreshing sense of open-mindedness and an opportunity to interact with diverse visions from around the world. Constrained by political propaganda and economic considerations, they produced a new architectural code for exhibition design. Formal research was incentivised by the sheer lack of items on display. Exhibition structures had to compensate for this lack and a new expressive architectural language was born. This included paintings, sculpture, design and graphics – all innovatively combined to play an important role in exhibition layouts.
As described by exhibition curator, Katarzyna Jeżowska, Polish exhibition design during the inter-war period was known for its unprecedented multi-disciplinary style. It was brought to life by a small yet vibrant community of designers, applied arts experts, filmmakers, photographers, artists, graphic designers and musicians.
Milan Design Week brings international visibility to this unique form of expression, inviting visitors from around the world to reconsider contemporary exhibition architecture and to gather future ideas from this extremely fertile moment in the history of exhibition design. Back to Front will open to the public on April 17th at La Triennale Museum in Milan.
Organiser: Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Graphic Design: Marian Misiak
Exhibition Design: Marcin Kwietowicz
The project is organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute operating under the Culture.pl brand as part of POLSKA100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence.
Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as
part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2021.
Source: press materials, compiled by NR, Apr 2018