“Neon” traces the history of the Communist-era neon signs of Warsaw, Poland, the context that generated them, the people and places connected with them, and the many meanings they have acquired since they were created.
After 1956, and well into the 1970s, the Soviet-backed Polish regime took it upon itself to brighten up a city which for the most part had become dark and drab. Following its grim post-War Stalinist reconstruction, Warsaw, it was decided, was to be “neonized”. The neons were intended to convey a feeling of modernity and progress in a country cut off from the West. Socialist-blessed, they nevertheless mimicked the colour, dazzle and glamour of post-War capitalist cities.
Today, these neon signs are celebrated and much sought after. In recent years interest in them has grown not only in Poland, but also abroad. This has not stopped the majority of the Warsaw neons being neglected and forgotten, however. Where there were once hundreds of original neon signs, fewer and fewer functioning ones now grace the buildings of the Polish capital.
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