The suburbs have been an indispensable part of almost every urban structure. They were of invaluable economic importance for each city. The suburbs were inhabited by people who somehow transgressed the laws, norms and customs typical for the cities and the city dwellers. The resident of a suburban mansion from the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th century, as well as a medieval non-guild craftsman or an artist fascinated by the beauty of the suburban landscape could all be considered suburbanites.
Historically speaking, a suburbanite is a person living in the suburbs, that is, the area located between the city and the countryside. Zwierzyniec was precisely such a suburb for many decades, until the early 20th century. The people living here mostly earned their living thanks to the city functioning nearby, while simultaneously benefiting from the relative low costs of living outside the city's administrative boundaries.
Today it is difficult to define the suburbs and the suburbanites. Does a separate social group of “suburbanites” even exist? What is the location of the suburbs?
Are suburbs simply the areas located around Kraków's city limits? Or maybe these are areas located within the city boundaries, and their suburban character is only defined by the dominant types of building development and the professions of their inhabitants? Could the people living in villages near Kraków but working in the city still be considered suburbanites? Or maybe suburbs are the modern housing estates, where the apartments are much cheaper than in the prestigious urban neighborhoods, much like in the case of Zwierzyniec a hundred years ago?
What defines a city and what defines the suburbs when it comes to the urban fabric? Is it about communication solutions and amenities? Or the characteristic type or density of the building development?
How does that fit with the quality of the suburbs—promoted especially in artistic creations—as an idyllic place, where life is more pleasant than in the crowded city center? Should the flight to suburban single-family houses and multi-family apartment blocks be seen as a journey in search of the suburban manor house?
In the end, we should assume that the definition of Kraków's contemporary suburbs is different for different people—for some Kraków ends on the current administrative boundaries. However, today we can still encounter people for whom the City, just like the Latin Urbs, only consists of the area enclosed by the Planty park, or possibly by the second ring road. Do the latter people, therefore, consider all the territories remaining outside the City as the suburbs? Perhaps for some people their own street will belong to the city while the neighboring street will not.
The exhibition, which will be the first of the five in terms of chronology, also aims to encourage reflection on a larger issue—the state of Kraków's contemporary community. This is why so many questions are being posed in this summary.