press release

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 Elżbieta Jablońska, “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 Michał 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, Michał Szlaga, Andrzej Wajda, Ania and Adam Witkowscy, Alina Zemojdzin.

Project partners: Espace Croise in Roubaix, Hamburger Kunstverein in Hamburg, Fundacja Signum in Poznan, the National Museum in Gdansk, Synergia 99 Ltd.

Special thanks to: Vera Bagalianz, Catherine Blondeau, Wojciech Bonislawski, Krzysztof Czerwinski, Eric Deneuville, Krzysztof Dolny, Yilmaz Dziewior, Marek Frankowski, Gabriela Gantenbein, Bogdan Garstecki, Mo Gourmellon, Zenon Grudzien, Andrzej Kwiatkowski, Janusz Lipinski, Jaroslaw Przyborowski, Arkadiusz Rybicki, Dorota Sadowska, Roman Sebastyanski, Dominika Skutnik, Dorota Swinarska, Monika Szuba, Tadeusz Z. Wolanski, Pawel Wrobel.

The project constitutes the inauguration of the artists’ residence programme in the Wyspa Institute of Art. On 3-4 September the exhibition will be accompanied by a conference entitled “Arte.Akt: the Political Potential of Art” organised in co-operation with the quarterly “Krytyka Polityczna” [“Political Critique”]. The curators of the conference are Magda Pustola and Aneta Szylak.


only in german

Kurator: Aneta Szylak

mit Fanny Adler & Cecile Paris, Elzbieta Jablonska, Jerzy Janiszewski, Grzegorz Klaman, Zbigniew Libera, Rene Lueck, Jacek Niegoda, Jadwiga Sawicka, Marek Sobczyk, Andrzej Syska, Michal Szlaga, Andrzej Wajda, Ania & Adam Witkowscy, Alina Zemojdzin