Słowo wstępne

In the beginning was the place. A space (nearly 1000 m² at Lenartowicza Street 3-4) which in the following years became the symbol of our activity was discovered in 1998. This place released the energy of people connected by a common idea. The initial image of the place of art was created by the members of Grupa Nieformalna (the Informal Group), Lech Karwowski and Piotr Klimek. This early period was marked by activities "from the outside," the import of works for which there was thus far no place in Szczecin. In the years following 2000, OFFicyna was becoming more and more the creator of a "from the inside" image. Today, it is mostly the people who create it. The profile of OFFicyna is the sum of our passions and skills. Those people are an enormous gathering of individualities with different interests, education, know-how. They are creators, curators, organisers – these provenances often permeate each other. They are also publicists, scientists, editors, managers, social workers, volunteers, lawyers, or external resources specialists. OFFicyna’s potential is the capacity, imagination and commitment of the people associated with it. OFFicyna is multidimensional. It deals with modern art. We believe, however, that since it is impossible to deal with all of its aspects, OFFicyna explores art as an element of everyday life. We are practitioners, we are not concerned with defining our activity theoretically, leaving that to the specialists instead. We find ourselves defined as "social art," "relational art," "socio-artistic activity." We are aware that our initiatives are often interpreted as a way of spending free time, as entertainment or social prevention. We perceive ourselves as a "modern place" – this term was used back in 2003 by art critic Magdalena Lewoc in a catalogue published to celebrate 5 years of place of art OFFicyna. We are also defined as a "social place," a "place of primary care," or simply a "place of art." The place itself is an important element of our identity. It enabled, implied, or modulated many of our activities. Nowadays, we visit Lenartowicza Street less often than we would like to. Whether it will ever be possible to run that centre again, we do not know. With this publication we are trying to describe OFFicyna. We are doing this mainly from today's perspective, although the majority of texts and pictures relate to our entire history up until today. We are aware that some areas have better literature or iconography, and that with time OFFicyna has changed on many levels – just as the people connected with us have. This multidimensionality means that our activity is complex. Its individual elements cannot be perceived in isolation from each other. It is no use searching for the "artistic exhibitions department" or the "education department" in OFFicyna. The activities themselves often cross categories. It sometimes happens that an invited artist realises an "OFFicyna project" with us, which is only possible when cooperating with a group of people as in a "workshop." Its effects are shown as an exhibition in the "gallery," or as another type of presentation such as an "event" or a "festival."