Freedom on the Fence – FILE issue 2

Posted by Fabio 30 September 2009

I am often asked what lead me to make a documentary about Polish posters. The simplest answer is that I was inspired by an amazing story about creativity and the human spirit and thought others would be too. My interest in poster design began in the early 80s, as an undergraduate graphic design student in Philadelphia.

Through various art and design history courses and studio projects, I came to love the poster as a means of communicating a simple message. But it wasn’t until I moved to Basel, Switzerland in 1987, that I really understood the true nature of how a poster functions on the street. The number of large, visually powerful posters advertising everything from music and theater to sale items of the national supermarket chain was overwhelming.

My first real introduction to Polish posters came in 1998, when Anka Kolodziej, a Polish student of mine, reminisced about the incredible posters on the streets of Warsaw in the 60s and 70s. She shared several books with me on posters from that era, the pages filled with brilliant examples. Anka lamented the ironic fact that Post-Communist Poland was experiencing the demise of the Polish poster as it once was. As Communism gave rise to a free-market economy, state–run agencies were being privatized and no longer had the funds to commission artists to create these unique posters. My initial thought was how could this amazing story be preserved? There were already several books and articles written about the Polish poster, but I thought it would be much richer if an audience could actually see how the posters looked on the streets and hear personal stories by the artists themselves. Andrea Marks

Read the full article and watch the 45 min documentary ‘Freedom on the Fence’ by Andrea Marks on the DVD in our 2nd issue of FILE Magazine.

FILE Magazine Issue 2