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Exhibitions > Preface

Introduction / Galit Gaon

From the catalog of the exhibition "Common Roots: Design Map of Central Europe"

Traveling to Central Europe is associated for us, second and third-generation Israelis, with visual memories, personal stories, objects, and photographs that are no more. European studies, Jewish history, and Holocaust studies, blend with current reality. Landing in Warsaw, that at first glance resembles landing in any other airport, quickly transforms when traveling on a train into a sequence of memories not our own, and forgotten scenes from black-and-white photographs. Is it possible that the thousands of photographs, films, texts, and testimonies have made the tangible landscape so familiar? After all, I was not born here in Poland. My personal memories are associated with Jerusalem, its smells and flavors, and yet on the train from Warsaw to Lodz about two years ago, it seemed to me that part of me belongs here. Lodz is gray, gloomy and colorless, with crumbling buildings. Although everything is clean, it is not well kept and it’s cold… It’s freezing! Going to the address provided by Agnieszka Jacobson, curator of Lodz Design Festival, and instantly I’m back in familiar territory - Contemporary design.

The huge space of an old factory built of red Shawmut bricks, large windows, around a stonepaved courtyard, which probably served carts and trucks in the past, is now filled with the tables and chairs of a café that serves vegetable soup in disposable paper bowls. I walk around the stands and the familiar objects that seem to have been taken from graduate exhibitions at our academies of arts and design. Three-dimensional irony, planned improvisation, quickly-processed primary materials, and familiar concepts fill the exhibition. “This is incredible”, I say to Agnieszka, “it looks like Israeli design”.

We called the exhibition by so many names in the course of the two years during which it was woven between Holon and Lodz. We searched for a name that would express the one-time picture of reality we planned to show. Designers born in Central European countries during the Communist era, who since graduating have been working in a free Western political, social, and economic space that offers numerous possibilities. “We are much more creative than our children”, says a young Polish designer, “We lived together in a common yard, and invented toys and games from sticks and scraps.
Nowadays everything is ready-made, there’s no need to invent anything anymore, there aren’t any
challenges”. Alongside its distinctive creativity, Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Lithuanian design has returned after many years of design uniformity and limited colorfulness to the traditional roots of object culture: rich red and blue embroidery, hand-blown glass and decorated ceramics, knitting, weaving, wood carving, and rural motifs. After only a few years design nostalgia has been replaced by a new adaptation of objects and furniture that encapsulate memories, common characteristics, like a genetic code that passes between them irrespective of geographical borders, language, or political policies.

While working on the exhibition we searched for a way to express memories of Central European
design in Israeli design. We created a map of the migration of ideas, objects, and thoughts that expresses the movement from there to here, from Lodz to Lodzia. Traditional memories of Central European design in Middle Eastern design. New East.

I would like to thank Agnieszka and Klara for the most complex curation carried out at the Museum
to date. Special thanks to Yossi Friedman for the opportunity to learn and listen.

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