8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 May 2014

Neon signs photos exhibition

May 9 -18
Free entry.
During opening hours of the cinema.

This year’s program includes presentation of Neon – a movie telling the story of a great passion and sentiment to Communism-time neon signs. Thanks to them, this poor period had its bright sides – streets, gray during the day, would undergo a real metamorphosis during the night, when the great neon signs advertising flower stores, hairdressers, pastry shops, or laundries started to gleam brightly. Colorful and shiny neon signs from the Communist era, with their distinctive lettering, had been designed by famous artists. In the Rotunda of Iluzjon movie theater it will be possible to see contemporary shots of neon signs taken by Ilona Karwińska, as well as old pictures from the National Digital Archives.

Cold War Neon by Ilona Karwińska

During her visit to Warsaw in 2005 something quite unexpected caught the eye of the artist: the neon remnants of another time – a rather lonely, yet monumental sign “Dancing Restauracja” which ran the entire length of the Prudential building and the welcoming glow of the fully working neon “Berlin” near Plac Konstytucji. These signs and others inspired her to begin a photographic documentation project of Cold War neon signs, entitled “Polish Neon”. Karwińska set out on a journey through Poland in search of the evidence of a grand plan to illuminate the entire country with neon. Their unique typefaces, symbols, their curious wording or even the state of neglect and decay they were in inspired her to document them – and in some cases – to try to preserve them. All too often, it seemed that no-one had noticed those jewels from a vanished era long enough to recognise their worth, and in some cases, only when the last neon remained did anyone in the city take notice of it.

Ilona Karwińska is a British photographer. She specializes in portraiture and world cultures. Based in London, she is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and the London College of Printing. She has been exploring the disappearing world of Cold War Era neon and graphics for more than eight years, and has been credited with starting a new “school of neon”, as well as founding Poland’s first Neon Museum. Her work has been featured in “The New York Times”, “The Guardian”, “Creative Review”, “Eye Magazine”, “Courrier International”, “The Newsweek”, and the BBC. Karwińska regularly exhibits in international galleries

The Neon Museum is dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Polish neon signs from the Cold War era. The creators and directors of the Neon Museum, David Hill and Ilona Karwińska, built the foundations for the museum in 2005, beginning with the photographic documentation project entitled “Polish Neon”. The preservation and renovation of the first Cold War neon signs also began during this photographic project. The subject of Polish Cold War neon was rapidly brought to greater public and media consciousness by numerous exhibitions and publications of Ilona Karwińska’s neon images. The “Polish Neon” exhibition travelled from London, Luxembourg, Amsterdam to Warsaw, contributing to the “neon sign renaissance”. The Neon Museum is permanently based in Soho Factory, Praga - the creative heart of Warsaw.


© Polish Cold War Neon by Ilona Karwinska