Post-Industrial Revolution: Welcome to Heel

Hello from Gdańsk.

I've been without internet for a few days, doing tourist things and enjoying the weather, so this is the first post.


Whenever I go to a new place, I'm overloaded by differences between where I am and where I've come from. Inevitably, I'm drawn to the uncanny rather than the overtly unfamiliar. At first the feeling is one of recognition, but then, as I begin to understand what I'm looking at, dislocation creeps in.

This is near Modelarnia, the project space in which we will be exhibiting. 'Slayer!' I shouted, when I saw it.

I asked whether Slayer had ever played in Gdańsk, and Marta said they hadn't. Apparently an artist had painted it for a project that no one could remember.

Here is Slayer guitarist Kerry King playing with Pantera, a few weeks before Dimebag Darrel was murdered on stage...

Around the corner from this building I found this warning sign.

Which is pretty much a ready made thrash metal logo.

It's funny, because Roma was saying that the first thing she noticed when she moved to the UK was our obsession with health and safety, but when we were investigating the shipyards, we found this warning sign.

It is an old health and safety sign from the Communist era. It has pictures of goggles, gloves and a hard hat, and the text says something like, "without these, accidents can happen". Which is quite similar to this.

Although, a little more home made.


More graffiti from the shipyard.

Not quite sure what they meant by this, maybe that we must never forget our own mortality, and that the utopias offered by political ideologues ignore our essential humanity, or maybe it just looked cool.

And here is a nice one from Puck, 'WELCOME to HEEL'. There is a place called Hel near Gdańsk, though I don't this is what they're talking about.

Hi Ronaldo.

On the same wall there was this

Actually, it was all over the walls. It means '21 x yes' in English, and it refers to the 21 demands of Solidarność, the trade union based in the shipyards of Gdańsk. More about them in a future post, but as far as I can tell, this graffito is a celebration of the success of Solidarność, which eventually went on to form a coalition government in the democratic elections of 1990.

I picked up a copy of the demands, and what's interesting is that most of the demands are pretty standard - extra pay for shift work, maternity leave, etc. Nowhere does it call for democracy or free elections. Solidarność are famous because their strike action is linked to the collapse of Communism, but the '21 x Tak' graffiti suggests that their relevance to contemporary Poland might be more to do with their practical demands than revolutionary change

And, one more, this time from Stansted airport. A nihilistic warning sign.