Fot. Palickap, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Monument to the Anonymous Passer-by – a characteristic and meaningful installation from Wrocław

The Anonymous Passer-by Monument, also known as ‘Passage 1977-2005’, is one of Wrocław’s monuments, unveiled on the night of 12-13 December 2005. It consists of fourteen life-size human figures cast in bronze, standing on both sides of Świdnicka Street, at the intersection with Piłsudskiego Street. The monument has been noticed and appreciated all over the world, being today one of the most original attractions in the city.

The original of the monument was the installation ‘Przejście’ (Passage) by Jerzy Kalina in 1977, set up in Warsaw at Świętokrzyska and Mazowiecka Streets. It was created for the ‘Vox Populi’ television programme. The artist dressed a group of plaster figures in real clothes, which he painted with grey paint.

1977, Monument to an Anonymous Passer-by – a prototype of the one in Wrocław. Photo: Warsaw Hidden History

Pomnik Anonimowego Przechodnia

Jerzy Kalina’s installation was the starting point for a discussion on the reception of contemporary art. Several years after the show, it was interpreted as an artistic prophecy about the introduction of martial law. Kalina himself, on the other hand, explained that it was a symbol of a Polish affliction, i.e. a ‘lame coma’. It was considered an artistic event of 1977 and found its way into all studies on the history of contemporary art in Poland as an innovative move of art from the gallery to the street.

Pomnik Anonimowego Przechodnia
Photo by ZzaniazZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shortly afterwards, the installation was dismantled and went to the National Museum in Wrocław for many years. The plaster figures became the model for a new bronze sculptural installation. The Anonymous Passer-by monument depicts a dozen or so figures ‘descending’ and ’emerging’ from under the pavement on two sides of the road. The author has not modernised them, but has given them individual features (e.g. the facial features of his wife), leaving the props from the 1970s: berets, helmets, bags, briefcases, a milk bottle, an old model of a pram, etc.

Photo Palickap, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Anonymous Passerby monument has received widespread recognition. The American “Budget Travel” ranked it among the most unusual places in the world, and in 2011. Newsweek Poland included it among the 15 most beautiful things in Poland, calling it the “most spectacular” monument in Wrocław. The sculpture was also listed in among the most creative sculptures in urban space and in a similar ranking by the prestigious magazine Arch2O as the only object from Poland.

Pomnik Anonimowego Przechodnia
Photo by Maciej Arkit, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 2018 study of the conditions and directions of spatial development for the city of Wrocław recognises it as a contemporary cultural asset. The Anonymous Passerby statue is popularly photographed and is one of the most popular outdoor sculptures in Wrocław.


Read also: Wrocław | History | Sculpture | City | Interesting facts

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