Gdansk, formerly Danzig, has a diverse and complex political and social history due to various spells of occupation, self-rule, and periods as a free city. The invasion of the free city of Danzig on 1st September 1939 marked the beginning of the Second World War. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of WW2 in 1945 the city became Gdansk and was once more part of Poland. However as Poland was freed from Nazi occupation by the USSR, under its influence the country became a communist state, against the wishes of a large proportion of the Polish population. It remained a communist country until the fall of communism in 1989.
Today Gdansk it is better known as a “Cradle of Solidarity”. Solidarity was the first independent trade union developed within the Eastern Bloc, providing the first indication of the fragility of Communism, prior to its fall. In the last few years, Gdansk Shipyard has also become the most recognisable place embracing the Gdańsk artistic scene through the artistic adoption of its dilapidated buildings.
The devastated brick production buildings and streets have become protagonists in films, theyhave been photographed and serve as the scenery for theatrical productions, while the industrial noises have been utilised by many musicians. Aside from Wyspa Institute of Art other innovative artistic organisations with in the district include the studio venue ‘Artists’ Colony’ and the artist led space ‘Modelarnia’. The current regeneration and revitalisation of the shipyard has unfortunately led to the demolition of a number of sites housing other creative organisations, the Znak Theatre, Aku Gallery, and the Pattern Room.