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The Orange Alternative – Surrealist Protest Movement

Group of forty vintage prints documenting various happenings by the Orange Alternative movement in Solidarity-era Poland.

Original gelatin prints, measuring 13.8 × 9.2 cm. Very good.

A rare group of forty photographs by an unknown photographer, providing a visual history of the artistic and quasi-political group performance art movement Pomarańczowa Alternatywa [Orange Alternative], which arose in the early 1980s. The carnivalesque group reached its peak of activity in 1985–1989. In later interviews Fydrych explained that in organizing the happenings of the Orange Alternative, his ambition was “to treat the political system of Poland as a work of art.” The group divides into four sets reflecting distinct events that rank among the group's most visible happenings of the period 1987-1989, when a veritable "orange" wave swept the country: 1) a happening in Wrocław in 1988; 2) a carnival strike on Świdnicka street in Wrocław that took place on February 7, 1989; 3) the anniversary of the October Revolution on November 7, 1988; and 4) another happening on Świdnicka street in Wrocław on December 21, 1988. Thousands of pedestrians joined these open-form meetings, which made no overt ideological or political demands, but celebrated an alternative way of being a citizen and a subject in late socialist Poland.

A similar photograph of the carneval happening was included in a monograph on the movement (Wszyscy proletariusze bądźcie piękni! Pomarańczowa Alternatywa w dokumentach aparatu represji PRL (1987-1989), 2011). Many shots capture the leader of the movement, Major Waldemar Fydrych (born 1953). They also capture the ludic qualities of the movement, with many participants dressed up as Lenin, Fidel Castro, or Native Americans wearing masks, playing musical instruments, dancing, and holding banners with statements such as “Lets bring Africa into the USSR,” “Dwarves of all nations unite,”and “Only two things in the world stink of herring.”

As of September 2021, KVK and OCLC show no comparable institutional holdings, excepting a VHS recording of a strike held by IISG Amsterdam.

Book ID: 51536

Price: $1,750.00