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WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE

Orange Alternative


In the 1980s, that is the declining, but also the most tumultuous years of The Polish People’s Republic (PRL), the Orange Alternative entered the streets of the Polish cities. The movement launched in Wrocław had perceived the absurdity of the political system and assaulted it with absurdity. The weapon of the Orange Alternative was a happening, rallying the crowd in a perverse and humorous way and successfully shaking the foundations of communism. The Orange Alternative was not only a social movement protesting against the Polish reality in the 1980s, but above all a force opposing the regime on the national level, without creating formal structures and voicing political slogans. It was an alternative for the regime, for the opposition, but also for the drab reality.

The Orange Alternative activists lampooned the pompously celebrated anniversaries, the convention of official events with a theme, the overwhelming presence of the police and the secret services in all areas of live, the shortages in shops and so on. Such campaigns were organised as The Policeman’s Day, Celebrations of the Great October Revolution anniversary, or Who’s afraid of toilet paper? The banners said Africa should be annexed to the USSR, Police in Wonderland or Adidas shoes for working class crews. The trademark of the movement was the dwarf (first painted on paint spots covering up anti-government slogans on city walls) and later a red or orange cap donned by participants of the happenings. The movement’s actions poked fun at the regime and after 1989 they served as a comment on the current political and social situation. The methods and language used pointed to a strong influence of Surrealism and an affinity with the Dada movement.
Happening against Communism by the Orange Alternative


The exhibition presents the history of the Orange Alternative, whose activity was a phenomenon not only in Poland, but in the whole of Europe. The movement of the Orange Alternative, established in Wrocław, has been remembered by many generations of Poles and the figures of dwarfs painted on walls are one of its most well-known symbols. The exhibition in the MCK Gallery, held in the jubilee year of the Orange Alternative (30th anniversary of its establishment, however the group suspended its activity for a couple of years in 1990s), was the first such extensive presentation of the movement. It showed its establishment and development and its narration was set against a background of political and social history of Poland and our region of the 1980s and the subsequent system transformation. The exhibition was organised in connection with the Polish Presidency in the Council of the European Union. Its theme introduced to the numerous, foreign visitors coming to Poland and to Krakow in connection with the Presidency, the specific form of a Polish ‘communism medicine.’


19/06/2011 – 02/10/2011