Current and announcment

Apparently, there is no better cure for melancholy than browsing through atlases, which work like a healing substitute for a travel. Devoid of a physical effort, imaginary journeys usually end in the interior, no one’s land, an undescribed location of uncertain and misty status. The feelings of being lost and disorientated, embedded in this phantom cartography, encourage us to work with our memory as if it was a kind of therapy that works through recalling happenings that had been suppressed or dislocated. They prompt many questions. How are maps and archives created at all? Who does not get to be seen and heard in them? What has been excluded? And what about the margins of the official geography and history – the boggy ground of superstition, fiction and sensibility? What can be found there?

The works displayed in the exhibition Interior evolve around two axes that make up the perception of the Polish countryside. The first one constitutes ethnographic mystifications, inspired by folk beliefs, leeching off the seasonal rhythm of work and various agrarian rituals and includes fantasies about becoming one with the soil and dreams about being absorbed by nature. The second axis stems from the need to finally confront our feudal past. As opposed to the images depicted by ethnographers, in which 84% of the analyses are focused on free time (as if Polish country dwellers were mostly busy dancing and celebrating), this second axis deconstructs the phantasm of the Arcadian countryside. Here, coming to light are many centuries of the exploitation of the peasantry, a silent social class who has not left much to testify to their misery and fear.

How do we go about telling their story? The past, especially our own, seems to be the most distant territory. Monuments come to mind straight away, as they are indispensable tools for knitting together our collective memory, yet here, in this context, they only arouse considerable suspicion. Vertical, stout solids are primarily to commemorate heroic deeds and events of historic importance, so they embody the patriarchal, nationalistic narrations, highlighting the position of an exclusive, based on very specific criteria, group of people. If we set about erecting new monuments to the Polish countryside, what should they be like? Should we build them from water, earth, wooden sticks or fire? Should they be horizontal or dispersed, change with time, thus challenging the traditional category of stability and a monumental form, empowering the voice of the oppressed, the invisible, the ones who have been kept silent, human and not human inhabitants?

Newly designed, fluctuating shapes tap into the rural archives, swell with energy and open up spaces in which facts replace hearsay, suspicion and prejudice – and now they are waiting to be explored. Therefore, welcome are daring researchers of history and herstory – the ones who wish to excavate what is hidden above the ground in search of alternative models of the past, the ones who chase emptiness left by old tales, those who burrow into mildewed layers of history consisting of leftovers, offscourings accumulated in eroded rocks and signs of bygone happenings, beliefs and fears.

This captivating interior stretches horizontally, like an uncharted land, yet it also extends deep underground and unfolds into time. It is accompanied by the earthy smell of turned soil, which turns out to be part of a ritual celebrating the material processes of sprouting, blooming, flowering and dying – but not only. It is primarily a tool for working with time in a geological sense, when it is perceived as layers: sediments and deposits, filaments and tissues.

Przemek Branas, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Ewa Ciepielewska, Elżbieta Jabłońska, Agata Jarosławiec, Karolina Jarzębak, Jan Kowal, Michalina W. Klasik, Land of YZ, Aleksandra Liput, Daria Malicka, Marta Niedbał, Alicja Pakosz, Maryna Sakowska, Ala Savashevich, Justyna Smoleń, Jakub Woynarowski

Marta Lisok

Opening of the exhibition — 12 May 2022, from 6 p.m.
The exhibition will last until 12 June 2022.