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Urban Justice


Coming from Silesia, a region in Poland heavily impacted by the turmoils of war and communism, it was easy for Karolina Obońska of 2019 Humanity in Action Berlin Fellowship to see that almost all of the current social problems stem from negligence of the past. With her master’s thesis focused on the legal basis of art restitution, she became fully aware of how perplexed the problem of real estate ownership is and how it perpetuates injustice.

Initially, her Action Project was supposed to focus on one aspect only – the urban chaos. As it turned out, it would also serve as a study of the ever-regressing public municipal sphere, lacking legal basis, and general helplessness regarding the relation of commoner-authority.

To the dismay of both local and national governments, the debate on „visual pollution” is a recurring subject globally. While navigating the new reality of the first lockdown, Karolina wanted to move from debating to acting more proactively.

Her idea for this was to document every ad/banner/image installed in contradiction with the Resolution of Katowice City Council and to deliver it to the applicable authority. She imagined the authorities would ensure that the banners were either adjusted to the resolution or taken down.

However, after she had been warned that this may be harder than expected, she decided to try it first with one landmark building.

After countless desperate phone calls, never-ending appeals, arguments without merit, as well as being personally offended in official correspondence, 3 out of the 5 reported ads got removed – Coca-Cola including (trademark breach). The final decision arrived in July 2021. Since the ads have been there since the 90s, the resolution does not apply to them. Fortunately for Karolina, it is not that black and white and she continues to put up a fight!