As the creator of „Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue”, I wish to express my full support for the idea of using the Palm Tree as a form of protest against Warsaw City Council actions. This art work is a symbol of what is missing from the vision of our capital’s officials – the desire to strive for the common good, based on dialogue within society itself. The ten-year history of the project is a constant invitation to engage in this dialogue, a process which has so far ended in a fiasco. The arrogance and disregard for the voice of non-governmental organizations, cultural institutions and citizens themselves, along with a complete lack of understanding of the importance of culture in strengthening society, has led to „Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue” being used to promote the Euro 2012 football tournament without agreement or permission from anyone involved in its creation. I hereby wish to protest against such actions and want to state once again: „This is what the world without art looks like.”
The funding of major sports tournaments has for a long time been used by governments to evade responsibility for issues of real importance to their citizens, allowing officials to divert attention from pressing social problems, all the while creating problems which were not there before. In the staging of Euro 2012, this tendency to ignore the needs of citizens in favour of generating commercial profits has reached some kind of terrible zenith. The football-shaped advertising hoarding erected next to the Palm Tree is an example of this. In order to host Euro 2012, Warsaw is draining its coffers, spending 2 billion zlotys on constructing the National Stadium and 100 million zlotys on organising the tournament itself, ignoring the ongoing lack of social housing, the closing of schools, the privatisation of food provision and restructuring of social support offices. What is more, for the duration of the tournament, Warsaw city authorities have allowed themselves to be subjugated to the decision making powers of UEFA, an institution not subject to any form of democratic control and one which stands to make the biggest financial profit from Euro 2012, not a cent/penny/grosz of which will be paid back taxes to either Poland or Ukraine. The impact of Euro 2012 reaches far beyond footballing arenas. The financial burden resulting from it will be felt by the citizens of Warsaw for a long time to come. “Eurofever” is meant to blind us to every day problems: “The games will begin, sucking us all in”,
Euro 2012 is an event aimed at the few. The majority of us will not get to see the action taking place in the National Stadium, its grounds cut off from the rest of the city by high-rise fencing. The city landscape has meanwhile been hijacked by advertising agencies. New forms of surveillance are being imposed on us. We are experiencing an artificially induced state of emergency, with schools, colleges, theatres and streets being closed. During the tournament, it is clear Warsaw City officials are more concerned with how they are seen by the outside world than with how they are delivering on the obligations to the citizens they are duty bound to serve, citizens who have been barred from having any say in the most important decision making processes. Instead of developing and supporting initiatives for the common good, meant to unite people and be open to all within the city sphere, our authorities have staged a commercially exclusive/excluding spectacle. The Palm Tree, one of Warsaw’s most beloved icons, all to often hijacked by local government for the promotion of its own ideologies, is the perfect place for us to stage a protest against this dire state of affairs.
Bread Not Games!!!
The Citizens of Warsaw