[artinfo] dockwatchers exhibition (Gdansk)

Aneta Szylak aneta.szylak at wp.pl
Thu Jul 7 21:11:50 CEST 2005

Curator: Aneta Szylak

Wyspa Institute of Art / Wyspa Progress Foundation
ul. Doki 1, Building 145B
PL 80-958 Gdaźsk
Tel.: +48 58 320 44 46

Opening party September 2,7 p.m.
The exhibition is open from 3 September to 30 
October, Tuesday-Sunday 12.00-18.00

In what way do we relive history? How does 
participation in important historical events 
affect our attitudes, decisions, life choices? 
How do we perceive history today and how do we 
relate it? What can be saved and what is doomed 
to oblivion? "Dockwatchers" is an exhibition 
about the artistic image of the memory, history 
and mythology connected with the foundation of 
"Solidarity", a social movement which had a 
significant influence on the process of system 
changes in Poland and Central Europe. 
"Dockwatchers" addresses the person, the 
individual, caught up in political and historical 
processes, whose personal memory is inscribed in 
collective experiences, the official 
representations of history and various forms of 
commemoration and mythologisation. The stormy 
quarter-century that has passed since 1980, 
despite or perhaps because of the uncommonly 
rapid transformation, was also a time of violent 
conflicts and disagreements, including about the 
shape of memory. How many personal histories of 
Solidarity are there and to what extent are they 
contradictory? It is people, their dreams, hopes, 
frustrations, ideals and disenchantments that are 
the heroes of this exhibition, which juxtaposes 
the oral tradition connected with the heritage of 
Solidarity with its media image. It recalls known 
and unknown figures, faces, symbols and images. 
It poses questions about the contemporaneity that 
grew from the seedbed of the ideals of the 1980s.

Apart from works directly referring to history 
and the people who created it, we also have works 
that speak of the ambiguous perception of the 
past. About the doubts, fears and impossibilities 
of discovering the truth, because of the 
uncertainty of sources and the breakdown in the 
credibility of former figures of authority. The 
exhibition is then a project about the current 
state of the Poles' spirit. It shows the drama 
connected with the appearance of a crack in 
reality. It is also charged with a considerable 
load of irony in the way of looking at national 
disputes and stereotypes.

The focal point of the exhibition is the original 
Solidarity logo designed by Jerzy Janiszewski and 
signed by Lech Walesa. This work constitutes the 
symbolic reference point for the whole project, 
since it played a significant role in creating 
and cementing the myth of Solidarity. The 
exhibition contains works by Polish and foreign 
artists. These include works specially created 
for the exhibition by resident artists at the 
Wyspa Institute of Art: Zbigniew Libera, Fanny 
Adler and Cecile Paris and Rene Lueck. These 
artists will spend August in the Shipyard in 
order to realise their works in the context of 
this specific place. The works will be shown 
alongside works from the Collection of the Wyspa 
Progress Foundation: "Himalaya Bahn" by Rene 
Lueck, "Flag for the 3rd Polish Republic" by 
Grzegorz Klaman, "What? Repeat [Solidarity]" by 
Marek Sobczyk, "Lightsphere" by Andrzej Syska and 
recently created works by Polish artists who have 
undertaken related themes: "Long Ago and Untrue" 
by Jadwiga Sawicka, "Is Your Mind Full of 
Goodwill?" by El›bieta Jab½oŸska, "The Lech 
Walesa Commemoration Room" by Grzegorz Klaman, 
"The Solitarity Museum" by Marek Sobczyk, 
"Dissenter" by Jacek Niegoda, "Really" by Alina 
Zemojdzin, a video installation by Ania and Adam 
Witkowscy and a whole series of portraits of 
activists from the early Solidarity days by 
Micha½ Szlaga. The exhibition will be 
complemented by a video installation of Andrzej 
Wajda's 1981 film "Man of Iron", an image which 
played a significant role in inscribing August 
into Polish culture and collective memory.

Participants in the exhibition:
Fanny Adler and Cecile Paris, Elzbieta Jablonska, 
Jerzy Janiszewski, Grzegorz Klaman, Zbigniew 
Libera, Rene Lueck, Jacek Niegoda, Jadwiga 
Sawicka, Marek Sobczyk, Andrzej Syska, Micha½ 
Szlaga, Andrzej Wajda, Ania and Adam Witkowscy, 
Alina Zemojdzin.

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