I studied in Poland, summer ’84; and summer ’85, through the auspices of the Kosciuszko Foundation, NY.
In September 1985 I spent two weeks in a dorm room for Music Conservatory and Academy of Fine Arts students in Krakow. During that time I found that my post-graduate fellowship at the Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow, had vanished between the time I left Poland in August, following the summer session, and my return in early Sept to begin the academic year at the academy. I subsequently left Poland a week later after failed attempts to find out why.
One Polish academic friend suggested I was a victim of poor Polish American relations at the time. Poland was still suffering from repression following the crushing of the Solidarnósc (Solidarity) trade movement a few years prior.
My own theory is that telling a Polish student, in the dormitory where the foreign summer studies students were housed, that I had made an artwork in 1982 portraying Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement, might’ve cost me my residency
How? It was said that among the Polish students living in the dorm, serving as “pilot,” aka guides, were some who were gathering info for Polish intelligence agencies. Comparably it was said that among the American students (who were of all ages, from college to seniors) there were some doing simple intelligence gathering for the US, meaning simply observing (as opposed to James Bond cloak & dagger spying).
The Prisoner of Conscience
The artwork I referred to, called The Prisoner of Conscience: Dedicated to Lech Walesa and Solidarity, was exhibited in a national exhibition sponsored by West (law) Pub. Co, St Paul, Minnesota,, held at the Landmark Center, St Paul, 1982. The work was published in the West ’82/ Art & the Law exhibit catalog.
Plac Wolnósj (Freedom Square)
During my two week stay at the dorm, Sept. 1985, I learned that it had been a Gestapo torture center during the years of the Nazi Austrian-German occupation (1939-44) of Poland. Later, during the Communist years, it had also been used as a police and torture center.
Every few days someone placed fresh flowers in the facade at the front of the dorm building – in remembrance of someone tortured, and some probably murdered, there. Hence the term Freedom Square is one of those absurd, more like obscene and perverse, misuses of language.