In Business, Try to Think Outside the Box, or What Technology Has to Do With Art
On December 3, 2021, we organised the opening night of Outside the Box, an art auction aimed at refuting stereotypes faced by people with disabilities. We chose to start the auction on December 3 because this particular date holds a special significance: it is the International Day of People with Disabilities. The opening night took place at Varso Place in Warsaw, in a space provided to us by our partners, CIC Warsaw and Venture Cafe Warsaw. The artworks were auctioned off on the portal Allegro Charytatywni until January 31, 2022. The proceeds of the auction were donated to the Avalon Foundation, a Polish organisation that works on helping people with disabilities.
Here is a summary of the entire project along with some reflections from our Account Manager, Magda Malinowska, who came up with the idea and co-organised Outside the Box.
Ever-present digitisation is a promise for a better tomorrow. We experience changes in our private, professional and public lives. The dynamics of technology development is huge. As a society, we step into the roles of eyewitnesses to the creation of the digital economy. Smart cities, smart buildings, autonomous cars and cybersecurity are just a few examples of the use of artificial intelligence. When shopping online or searching for information on the internet, we tend to not think about what is making these services a reality. We mainly focus on the service that makes our life more comfortable. Some, losing themselves in comfort, forget about the importance of reaching out a helping hand to others, who are unable to experience the same comforts. But it’s not my place to judge them. I can only judge actions that result in another person being unfairly wronged.
Referring to the data from the Central Statistical Office in Poland, I can conclude that there are at least 3 million such people in Poland. The terms deformity, underdevelopment, defect, weakness, handicap are what appears in the dictionary of Polish synonyms when you look up the term disability. When dealing with a vocabulary that has such negative connotations, common stereotypes and prejudices against this social group seem understandable. So it seems abstract to ask whether technology can change the public perception of people with disabilities. Although we are an organization that deals with the digitisation of parking lots on a daily basis, we took on the challenge and turned to art, which became our arsenal in the fight for the dignity of people whose needs are so often overlooked.
In cooperation with the Avalon Foundation, we created an art exhibition, the effects of which exceeded our wildest expectations, thus gaining a permanent place in the annual schedule of our activities. “Outside the Box” – as this was the title of this project – escaped stereotypes, leaving the rigid business schemas behind. The opening night of the auction had the aim of taking one’s eyes off computer screens and focusing them on the fight against the simplified and often harmful way of thinking about the life of people with disabilities. A formal atmosphere transformed into one where friendliness and empathy were felt by everyone, making warm smiles appear on the faces of the guests. The discussions on non-work-related topics turned out to be a perfect complement to the mood. We offered our guests the opportunity to stop in the course of their everyday lives and look for a place in their lives they can dedicate to helping their neighbours and members of their communities.
Our activities were supported by excellent partners, CIC Warsaw and Venture Cafe, who provided their space to present the works of art, and the owners of one of Warsaw’s restaurants, Patelnia Patera, who made sure our guests had their bellies full during the event. The tools we used to create a space free from prejudices were artistic works that we auctioned with the support of Allegro Charytatywni. As a result of the art auction, we collected over PLN 6,000 to support the foundation’s activities. The artworks auctioned off were:
- Adelina Krakowska, Gwiazda wybiegu [The star of the catwalk]
- Aleksandra Rusiniak, Ile jesteś w stanie dostrzec [How much are you able to notice]
- Aleksandra Rusiniak, Karnawał u mistrzów [A carnival with champions]
- Estera Sendecka, Mistrzowie [Masters]
- Joanna Popowicz, Baletnica z protezą [Ballerina with a prosthesis]
- @scrachess, W klatce uprzedeń [In a cage of prejudice]
- Marta Jagodzińska, Outside the box
- Paweł Król, F.
- Tomasz Cebo, Miłość- no widzisz, że nie widzisz [Love- you see that you can’t see it]
- Hanna Kur, Posłuchaj, jak dla Ciebie śpiewam [Listen how I sing for you]
- Zuza Kamińska, Venus z wózka [Venus from the wheelchair]
- Klaudia Kowalenko, Untitled
- Tomasz Opaliński, Odkrywanie [Discovering]
- Filip Flamboyant, Oko różnorodności [The eye of diversity]
- Radosław Kobus, Wenus [Venus]
- Karolina Bąk, Miłość [Love]
- Anna Bąk, Nie ma ograniczeń [There are no limits]
- Eliza Zawadzka, Ponad ramami [Over the limits]
- @noriaki, Album: sejf jest za obrazem [Album: The safe is behind the painting]
- Michał Pawłowski, Portret 1 [Portait 1]
- Michał Pawłowski, Portret 2 [Portait 2]
- Stanisław Kmiecik, Pejzaż z życiem [Landscape with life]
The opening night of Outside the Box had a special nature. Its repertoire included live performances by people to whom the world is not fully adapted, but they proudly show that their disabilities do not constitute any barriers to enjoying their lives to the extreme. The prelude opening the event was a live painting by Stanisław Kmiecik – a painter who has no hands since birth, and who enjoys being a rally driver in his spare time. During the event, one artist pampered our sense of sight, while another opened our hearts and minds, bringing with him the power to unite souls through sound. Piotr Litwiński, a blind accordionist from Gdańsk, proved that music is the food of love. In a duet with Filip Flamboyant, a DJ from Poznań, he combined the sounds of a wind instrument with electronic music.
From the perspective of our organization, last year was a breakthrough, not only in terms of business but also when it comes to social impact. Gaining experience in cooperation with the Avalon Foundation, we took a broader look at our development. Bearing in mind the needs of people with disabilities, we decided to take an active part in helping them and continuing our work on making parking more accessible, taking this into account in the strategies of building a roadmap of our products, NaviPay and our reservation and subscription portal, digitalparking.city. Thus, we encourage other technology companies to go beyond the rigid schemes and look with a greater dose of empathy at others, because thanks to this, we will create socially responsible businesses.
The only thing left for me to do is leave the reader to think about this: if art doesn’t make us better, why does it even exist?