“DemArt” commissioners introduce the locations and communities they want to work with, mentioning historical, economic and geopolitical aspects and social context. They share their dreams and expectatios that cultural activities, visibility and public engagement can bring to the actual lives of the residents.

Where we are?

Brochow was a separate town until 1951, and its history dates back to the Middle Ages. The first documented mention of Brochow took place in 1193. It can be found in a document signed by Pope Celestine III.

Brochow – once an agricultural village, later a German town with a well-developed railroad network, theater, town hall, school, police station, and after World War II the point where the State Repatriation Office was located where Poles from the Eastern Borderlands were transported and separated for further transports. Legends say that pineapples and extremely valuable bitter oranges were grown in the garden of the now defunct canon palace from the early 18th century.

It was the railroad that was central to Brochow’s development. It was here that the largest marshalling yard in central Europe was located. Coal from Silesian mines passed through the local networks.

Until 1945, Brochow was a thriving town with its own infrastructure and two newspapers. In many aspects especially urban planning and organization, it was a model workers’ settlement.

World War II changed much of Brochow’s architecture, as well as, as a result of border changes, forced the exile of the autochthons deep into Germany and the settlement of the newly arrived Polish population mainly from today’s Ukraine and Belarus.

After World War II, the Roma community was also located in Brochow in large numbers, and they came here with their culture, customs and animals. In conversations with older residents of Brochow, one can hear that some Roma kept their Horses in Brochow’s Tenements.

This cultural “mish-mash”, the mingling of different nationalities and social classes heightened the mysteriousness and distinctiveness of Brochow, even though this settlement is only 8 km from the city center.

Green areas, parks, a historic villa estate, as well as old post-German tenements and now new blocks of flats build an ambiguous and interesting landscape. The railroad houses as well as the tracks themselves can evoke associations with a bygone era and remind us of the estate’s former German residents.

Social context

Brochow is a place full of contrasts, a cluster of diverse social groups, numerous cultures, which pass each other every day, knowing little about each other. We would like to get to know these people and bring them together. To ask questions about identity, about the values that unite and build the local community.

The railroad is Brochow’s main industry. Over the years it has grown a lot. It was a source of work for many people. It was where the transit of important goods for the country, such as coal, for example, took place. Brochow was an important connection on the map. It is associated by everyone with trains, especially freight trains. Kilometers of railroad tracks and old wagons impress the local residents. To this day, a large part of the buildings located in Brochow belong to the railroad.

For many years, there was a perception in the mentality of other Wroclaw residents that Brochow was a very dangerous neighborhood and people were reluctant to visit the place.

To this day, Brochow still sows a bit of fear. When “locals” encounter strangers strolling freely they can jump in. But it is not as dangerous as it was years ago. Nevertheless, it takes time to acclimate to the local community.This may require a lot of patience.However, there have been institutions in Brochow for quite some time (the “Made in Brochow” Foundation) that can help in all activities with the communities and improve familiarization with the locals.

An important problem we identify is the increasing marginalization of the Roma community, which ╴ based on conversations we have had with them ╴ feels excluded and left out of many local initiatives.An additional few years earlier, the building of their cultural center was taken away from them, and a mural by Roma artist Malgorzata Mirga-Tas, who is representing Poland at the Venice Biennale in 2022, was painted over.All of this leaves this community with a lack of trust in public institutions, exacerbating their isolation.Which in itself is already a challenge due to cultural differences and still existing prejudices. Addressing this issue and initiating discussions on it is one of our goals.

What we want to do?

Our idea as Commissioners is to merge these different layers and social tissues and commission art that works for the community, is about the Community, and created with the Community. So that whether one is a Roma, Pole, German, Ukrainian does not contribute to social divisions in Brochow, but that a common identity as Brochow residents and joint socio-cultural activities build a new and strong identity for the local population.  An example of such action from previous years can be the installation “Fotoplastykon” on Koreanska Street by Robert Pludra, which was created during the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 as part of the project “Wrocław – entrance from the courtyard”.The installation today is neglected and out of order.Another example of neglect on the part of public institutions, which affects the overall climate and social fabric of the neighborhood.It is important to us that through our action, Brochow increases its subjectivity and draws the attention of local authorities to the challenges facing the community.

Currently, the Brochow neighborhood is one of the fastest growing urban enclaves in Wroclaw. More and more new blocks of flats are being built here in Brochow, which encourages an influx of people and a break from the unfavorable stereotypes about Brochow’s gloomy aura. In recent years, a lot of local initiatives have been happening here, thanks to the opening of the Center for Local Activity, where you can go to Yoga classes or ceramic workshops, and the opening of a swimming pool called Aquapark.Cafes and restaurants make Brochow vibrant during the day and revive its pre-war potential.

It would be worthwhile to start weaving neighborhood contacts anew and work on the identity of the local community.A 4th post-war generation is already being born, for whom Brochow will no longer be a “post-German town” but their home and small homeland.  It would also be good for the various groups living in Brochow to live in greater cultural integration (Roma, Poles, Railroaders, Africans or Ukrainians and Belarusians who came here in 2022).Today, these groups live at a certain distance, on the one hand passing each other off as neighbors, but there is a lack of community or joint activities.  Space to meet, get to know new people, exchange views, build relationships.