In the beginning there was a place. Almost 1000 m² of space at 3-4 Lenartowicza Street, which in the following years became a symbol of our activity, was discovered in 1998. This place released the energy of people united by the common idea. The original look of this place of art was created by the members of Grupa Nieformalna, Lech Karwowski and Piotr Klimek. This early stage was marked by activities „from the outside”, the import of artistic creativity, for which there was no room in Szczecin so far. In the following years – since 2000 – the OFFicyna Association has become a creator of profile „from the inside”. Today, it is most of all people who create it. The OFFicyna’s profile is the sum of our passions and skills. These people are a huge collection of individuals with different interests, education and know-how. They are creators, curators, organizers – these provenance often intertwine. They are also publicists, scientists, publishers, managers, social activists, volunteers, lawyers and specialists in obtaining external funds. The OFFicyna’s potential are competences, invention and involvements of people associated with it. The OFFicyna is multi-faced. It deals with contemporary art. However, as we believe, it is impossible to deal with all of its aspects, the OFFicyna explores art understood as an element of everyday life. We are practitioners, we do not deal with theoretical debates about our activities, leaving this issue to specialists. We come across the terms „social art”, „relational art”, „artistic and social activities”. We are aware that our practices are often perceived as a form of spending free time, entertainment or social prevention. We see ourselves as a „modern place” – as it was defined by art critic Magdalena Lewoc in 2003, in the catalogue published on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the OFFicyna existence. We are defined as well as a „social place”, „place of first contact” – or simply „place of art.”.
The place itself is an important element of our identity. It has enabled, implicated and modulated many of our activities. Today we visit place at Lenartowicza Street less frequently than we would like. Would it be ever possible to run the centre again, we do not know. In this publication we would like to describe OFFicyna. We do it mainly from the current point of view, however, most of our texts and photos describe our whole history so far. We know that some of areas have richer literature or iconography, that many of the OFFicyna’s aspects have changed over time – just like the people who are associated with us. This multidimensionality means that our activity is complex. Its individual elements cannot be seen separately from the others. There is no such thing in OFFicyna as “art exhibition department” or “education department”. The activities themselves often cross the categories, according to which we talk about what we do. It happens, that the invited artist carries out „his own project” prepared together with us, which is only possible in cooperation with a group of people on the basis of „workshop”, the effect of which is presented in a form of an exhibition in a “gallery” or the other type of presentation, such as “events” or “festival”.