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Monika Powalisz

Varsovians: Monika Powalisz

A co-screenwriter of the “Belfer” television series which second season has already started, a writer, an editor (“Smak” magazine), a mother of Anda, lives in Żoliborz. She arrived in Warsaw from Łódź in the early 90s.

I can’t stop thinking about a man who set himself on fire at Defilad Square.
– For me it is the most extreme form of resistance.

For me also a symbolic end of some era in Warsaw – peaceful times, good life. We haven’t appreciated this so far. Even we haven’t been noticing it. Konwicki wrote “Mała Apokalipsa” (“A Minor Apocalypse”) in the 70s. Forty years later history repeats itself. Do you have the same feeling?
– We have been living in a very safe social bubble – we don’t notice many things or we simply try not to see them. We are limited to our own micro worlds. There is reprivatization, gentrification, ongoing social stratification in our city – it has been happening for many years just in front of our eyes so to say. Question is how we will react? Do we want to activate or remain in our bubbles?

If you had a chance to write a series with modern Warsaw as its main heroine, would it be sinister? Politics, crime, people thrown out of their flats? Something like “Pakt” or “Ekipa”?
– Not necessarily. I’d rather think more of a modern version of “Dom” where in one tenement house we have people of different professions, at different age, from various social backgrounds. Or it could be also a comedy, however such genre I’d see more in the gated communities where people completely don’t know each other and can’t function in a common space – they don’t understand the idea which stands behind it.

However, I feel better at crime fiction. Drama series are far more difficult.

How does your Warsaw look like? How did you perceive it when you moved here for good?
– I started from quite a difficult place – Muranów – deeply affected by the history. I don’t remember Warsaw from the 90s. I used to attend the Academy of Dramatic Art that time. After reading “Przez rzekę” (“Across the river”) by Stasiuk I got flashback from my student years. After that I started absorbing the city and its history.

The older I get, the more conscious I am of this place. If I had to describe the city in one adjective I’d say: disturbed. On many levels: architectural, planning, social, emotional. I wouldn’t like to use the word „crazy” because it is not about it. It is rather “clear” disturbance as in Thomas Bernhard.

You have chosen Żoliborz. Why?
– It is a relatively young district, created before the World War II. One of the few which were planned from the begining to the end, and post war intrusion was minimal. I like this spatial order, we have here everything which is needed for a well balanced life. Maybe it would be nicer if there were more clubs and restaurants.

Social traditions of Żoliborz are very close to me, too. There are some people who thumb their nose that it is a place of self-righteous intellectuals, who are confined to their enclaves. It is not true. Żoliborz was socially diverse by design. There were flats for working class as well as for the officials. In the Glass House (designed by Juliusz Żórawski in 1938-41) where I took an active part in administration it had always been stressed that it was a place where a boilerman, driver and director lived under one roof. Of course it is all changing right now but the gentrification processes here are not as brutal as in Praga.

In Żoliborz we have a lot of local initiatives which unite the community. For me it is an ideal place. I can find here peace of mind.

Photo: Aga Bilska

Monika Powalisz

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