Sergey Shabohin, St()re #12: Dusty Slogan, 2020. Courtesy the artist
We’ve initiated the project at the Arsenał Gallery in Białystok during crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, after institutions of culture in Poland had been shut down on march 12th 2020. The exhibition is an effect of the open call and only one – incomplete – of many possible transcriptions of time of quarantine and its meanings. We were inspired by Rebecca Solnit to talk about solidarity in crisis. The author convinces us that we become more solidary, altruistic and empathetic when disaster strikes.
Over recent weeks, we have all been witnesses to self-help and solidarity-focused activities, on a major scale and in small local communities alike. Despite the need for „social distancing” – or possibly because of the very reason it was introduced – we have been developing new ways of engaging in community practice. Artists joined us on the quest, both in real and virtual space. Employing tools of art and searching for appropriate measures, they created new communities or supported existing ones, they initiated or supported social campaigns.
The majority of works on display saw daylight in times of quarantine. Yet some of the earlier ones reference the issue of the position of minorities in normalized society rather than circumstances caused directly by the pandemic. Apart from exclusion born of fear of infection, artists point to other, not directly associated with the current crisis. They remind us that what we need today is an option of building a new and more just social system rather than returning to pre-epidemic „normality”. They highlight the old world’s deficiencies we should be filling by building a new community. It is also important for us that the works and testimonies sent to us extend beyond our country’s borders, and that voices from beyond its centre are audible as well.
Our other main inspiration came from Naomi Klein and her talk, replicated and reposted time and again in early days of the pandemic. The scholar sees crisis as a situation enabling genuine change, because – as she states – the decisions about coming out of the crisis are not just the areas of responsibility of elites and agendas. They will be based on the „ideas that are lyeing around”. Also those, which have been rejected so far as too utopian and today are becoming a part of day-to-day struggle which can be taken by each of us. A chance
such as this one occurs only in moments of deep crisis. Those moments allow us to notice the possibility and the necessity of change. Solnit notes that often as not, crisis become a time of extraordinary proximity, as well as great queries, passionate involvement and community reflection. Artists sense such moments, and appeal for a change in paradigms that rule our societies.
Shukhliada & Photinus School, Out of Body Experience, 2020, video documentation still. Courtesy the artist
Adelina Cimochowicz, Untitled from the I, Gaea the naeked series, 2020. Courtesy the artist
Daniel Kotowski, Reading Aloud, 2019, video still. Courtesy the artist
Marta Mariańska, Video Chat, 2020, video still. Courtesy the artist
Jaśmina Wójcik, Jakub Wróblewski, Self-Agency, 2020, video still. Courtesy the artists
Juliana Höschlová, 19.4 from the Inner Parts of Features series, 2020. Courtesy the artist
Paweł Żukowski, We’ll make it, 2020. Courtesy the artist
Diana Lelonek & Edka Jarząb, Wielogłos, 2020. Courtesy the artists
· SOLIDARITY AND AGENCY, online at solidarityandagency.online
until December 31, 2020
Artists: ADELINA CIMOCHOWICZ, MONIKA DROŻYŃSKA, GALERIA KOMPUTER, BARBARA GRYKA, JULIANA HÖSCHLOVÁ, MAGDALENA KOSEK, DANIEL KOTOWSKI, DIANA LELONEK I EDKA JARZĄB, MARTA MARIAŃSKA, RITA MÜLLER, AREK PASOŻYT, SHUKHLIADA and PHOTINUS STUDIO SCHOOL (authors: YEVHENII ARLOV, ANNA IVCHENKO, MAX NYKYFORIV, OLEKSANDR REZNIKOV, OLEKSANDR SIROUS, IGOR SOKOLOV, YEVHENII SVYSTUN, DMYTRO TENTIUK, TAIRA UMAROVA, MYKHAILO VYBODOVSKYI; curators: LERA POLIANSKOVA, MAX ROBOTOV, IVAN SVITLYCHNYI), MARTA ROMANKIV, ALA SAVASHEVICH, SERGEY SHABOHIN, KATYA SHADKOVSKA, JANA SHOSTAK, JAŚMINA WÓJCIK & JAKUB WRÓBLEWSKI, WERONIKA ZALEWSKA, PAWEŁ ŻUKOWSKI
Curators: KATARZYNA RÓŻNIAK, ELIZA URWANOWICZ-ROJECKA
© 2020, GUEST ROOMS