The Association of Artists “Contur” means not only the International Festival of Comics and Games, but also other various cultural enterprises. In 2006 Adam Radoń came up with an idea of the international comics workshop City Stories, during which artists from Poland and abroad cooperate with each other to create comics stories about Łódź. In 2009, at the Festival of Promotion of Cities and Regions, City Stories won the “Złoty Format” prize in the category “promotional publication”. In 2006 the first edition of Big Boat of Humour was held. The idea for a cartoon competition about Łódź came from Jakub Wiejacki. Cartoonists from all over the world compete with each other, fighting for a financial prize. We also had three editions of the visually attractive fluorescent art exposition Fluo Session. “Contur” also organizes Polish comics exhibitions in Europe, e.g. in Italy, Belgium, France, Russia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and in other countries. The association cooperates with the National Cultural Center, conducting a series of comics workshops for young people, organizing various competitions and publishing books on comics. The abovementioned projects are just a part of what “Contur” does, and the number of its activities is still growing.
City Stories is an international comics project, launched in 2006. The idea came from Adam Radoń, director of the International Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź. Its aim is to create comics stories taking place in Łódź or being closely related to the city. Scriptwriters and artists from other countries are invited to take part in the project and, together with Polish artists, they create comics, later presented in exhibition and published as a bilingual album. First ones to take part were the Russians, then the British, the French and finally – the Italians.
Each edition of City Stories is composed of two phases. First one takes place in Łódź and finishes by publishing a bilingual album with stories about Łódź. Second phase takes place in the city where the foreign artists come from and ends by publishing a bilingual album about e.g. Moscow or London. The second stages are still in the making.
In the first edition of City Stories, entitled Pierwsze Opowieści (First Stories), Poland was represented by Grzegorz Janusz, Krzysztof Ostrowski, Przemysław Truściński and Jacek Frąś, whereas the Russian side by Hihus, Askold Akiszin, Alim Vielitov and Konstantin Komardin. Ostrowski and Komardin also designed the cover pages for the album. In 2007, the Polish-British edition was entitled Łódzkie legendy. Pamięci Księżego Młyna (Legends of Łódź. Tribute to Księży Młyn). The participating artists were: Tomasz Tomaszewski, Marek Skotarski, Robert Olesiński, Paweł Marszałek and Michał Będkowski together with Jenika Ioffreda, Humayun Mirza, Tom Humberstone and Warren Hutchison. The cover was designed by Paweł Kwiatkowski. The 2008 was the year of the Polish-French edition. The theme Rekonstrukcja (Reconstruction) was interpreted by Berenika Kołomycka, Kamila Pawluś, Krzysztof Gawronkiewicz and Ireneusz Konior together with Gregory Demange, Florian Bovagnet, Pierre-Marie Grille-Liou and Jerome Dupre La Tour. Marek Skotarski designed the covers.
In 2009 the artists from Łódź, together with the Italians, tackled the theme Łódź in 30 years. They were: Michał Janusik, Wojciech Prokop, Daniel Gembus, Daniel Baum, Jakub Matys, Armando Rossi, Michele Petrucci, Susanna Raule and Carolina Cutolo. Gabriel Kołat painted the covers.
The City Stories workshops, conducted by Adam Radoń, have been made possible thanks to the cooperation with the Association of Artists “Contur”, Łódź Cultural Center, City of Łódź Office, Łódź Special Economic Zone and the Art Zone and the partner institutions, depending of the country: BigAnt in Russia, British Council, General Consulate of Poland in Lyon and Tomatofarm in Italy.
The Big Boat of Humour is an international cartoon contest. The idea came from Jakub Wiejacki from the Association of Artists “Contur”. The first edition of the Big Boat was held in 2006. The main idea of the project is to illustrate a famous paradox of the city of Lodz – the word “lodz” in Polish means “a boat” and the city has a yellow boat in its crest. However, Lodz lies nowhere near the sea, a lake or any big river. Every edition has a different slogan though (2006: “Lodz”, 2007: “To go over the horizon”, 2008: “Go fishing in a boat”, 2009: “City in Reconstruction”).
Every year the organizers receive a few hundred works from all over the world. Beside Polish artists, drawers from Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine, Cyprus or Germany fight for the Grand Prix award (10 000 PLN). Some artists are from such exotic countries as China, Nigeria, Thailand, India, Iran, USA, Uzbekistan, Canada, Australia or Brazil. The submitted works are rated by a jury led by a famous Polish cartoonist – in 2006 it was Edward Lutczyn, in 2007 – Janusz Stanny, in 2008 – Jacek Fedorowicz, in 2009 – Grzegorz Szumowski. The works are published in a catalogue and exhibited in Piotrkowska, the representational city street, where every Lodz citizen can see them. The chosen illustrations are published as postcards and distributed in Lodz pubs, clubs, hotels and institutions where they are given out to the guests. What is more, the organizers, together with “Gazeta Wyborcza” (local newspaper) prepare a series of mugs with chosen images that are for sale and the money is later given to charity. The competition is announced at the beginning of the year and the deadline is April 31. In May, during the annual city of Lodz celebrations, the Grand Prix is awarded at the gala conducted by famous Polish comedians (in 2006 and 2008: Andrzej Poniedzielski, in 2007 and 2009: Artur Andrus). The previous winners of the Big Boat of Humour contest are Paweł Kuczyński (2006), Jacek Frąckiewicz (2007), Zygmunt Zaradkiewicz (2008) and Jerzy Głuszek (2009). The Big Boat of Humour is organized by the Association of Artists “Contur”, the City of Lodz and the Lodz Cultural Center. The project is also supported by the “Gazeta Wyborcza”. For several years now the Association of Artists “Contur” has cooperated with the National Cultural Center (NCK). In 2007, together we completed the 11/11=Independence project, part of the campaign No Independence, No Happiness. The comics enterprise, addressing the young people especially, was prepared for the National Independence Day. Artists who occupied themselves with historical comics for many years, also worked on this one: Michał Gałek, Andrzej Janicki, Maciej Jasiński, Jacek Michalski, Witold Tkaczyk and Janusz Wyrzykowski together with other comics artists, among them: Tomasz Tomaszewski, Maciej Mazur, Aleksandra Spanowicz and Gabriela Becla. One of the most important elements of the project was the internet site www.niepodlegolosc.nck.pl, where all the stories were available together with information on the authors. The project was supported by the soldier of the Home Army in Poland, fighter in the Warsaw Uprising – Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski – who is also an author of a very popular comics Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek. The publisher Zin Zin Press actively participated in the project as well. The ceremonial album premiere was held on November 18, 2007 in the Library of the Warsaw University. “Contur”, together with the NCK, also conducted the competition “My Teleranek – December 13, 1981” for the best comics scenario about the period of martial law in Poland. The jury awarded the story written by Łukasz Muniowski, which was later drawn by a fabulous Polish comics artist – Jakub Rebelka. The poster promoting the competition was designed by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia, creators of Marzi comics.
Exhibitions. Since 2006, the Association of Artists “Contur”, individuallyor cooperating with various institutions, hasorganized Polish comics exhibitions abroad. We cooperatedwith e.g. the Polish Institute in Vienna, Polish Consulate in Lyon, Polish Institute in Moscow or the City of Łódź Office in Brussels. So far, our comics artists presented their works in Brussels, Vilnius, Budapest, Stuttgart and Lyon. Together with the Łódź Cultural Center and the Cityof Łódź office (cofinanced by the Ministry of Culture andNational Heritage) we prepared a series of exhibitions of the festival’s Grand Prix winners in Vienna, Moscow andAmsterdam. In 2008, “Contur” organized a retrospective exhibition of Polish comics combined with a big exhibition of Grzegorz Rosiński at Lucca Comics and Games in Italy. Similar projects are planned, e.g. at the Portuguese festival of comics in Amadora.
The Fluo Session is an unprecedented event in Polish visual arts. In October 2005 the art that requires a pair of 3D glasses and the presence of UV light was presented for the first time on such a scale. The exposition took place in the Łódź Cultural Center. In 2008, the works from Fluo Session 2 entered public space: Sławomir Brzoska presented his installation in Manufaktura in Łódź and in a pedestrian underpass, between Łódź Fabryczna railway station and the Łódź Cultural Center, there was a group exhibition. By leaving buildings and galleries, Fluo Session 2 managed to make the contemporary art more socially available. The aim was to create bonds between the artist and society – idea that is rooted in the spirit of the Łódź avant-garde from the 1920’s and 30’s. The new edition of Fluo Session enticed the appearance of other forms of art – street-art actions, reactions and performances – beside the traditional painting, sculpture, installations or video projections, present in the previous edition.
On the first weekend of June 2009, the third edition of Fluo Session was presented in the Kraków’s Błonia – as a form of a visiting presentation at the Selector festival. The faithful “fluo” artists took part in this event: Sławomir Brzoska, Tomasz Matuszak and the Lyyying Community.
The idea of Fluo Session came from Adam Radoń. The first Fluo Session would not be possible without the help of Aleksandra Kaźmierczak and Alexander Dvoriankin. Later, the Fluo Session coordination was taken over by Katarzyna Tośta.