March 13, 2018 - Arsenal Gallery - Farmhands in Factories, Boas in Brasseries
March 13, 2018

Arsenal Gallery

Ewa Polska, Visions and Mockeries, 2014. Video. Courtesy of the artist.

Farmhands in Factories, Boas in Brasseries
March 9–April 19, 2018

Galeria Arsenal
Adama Mickiewicza 2
15-222 Białystok
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The Arsenal Gallery in Białystok is the largest contemporary art gallery in the north-eastern region of Poland, Podlasie, and has for more than 20 years served as a platform for regional and international curatorial and artistic research on the notion of the border and the understanding of social change.

Farmhands in Factories, Boas in Brasseries is a re-edition of an eponymous 2016 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw which investigated centrally constructed instruments for upward social mobility on the example of an illustrated magazine for youth from extra-metropolitan localities, and the totalitarian regime’s uses of culture as an engine and a codifier of change in an individual’s social status. The current one takes a look at cultures—the indigenous one (with its vernacularity and organicality) and the academic one (the question of the common versus the national)—emerging from Podlasie: the most ethnically and culturally diverse region of pre-WWII Poland—in transition from the cyclical to the historical time. These are presented against the background of a country-wide—underground and regime—art in the light of state-ranging social changes instigated top-down as a result of the complete enfranchisement of peasants by the Agrarian Reform in 1944. The historical event has been singled out as a foundation for contemporary Polish society (with its class divisions and inequalities as well as its re-sentiments) in Andrzej Leder’s Prześniona rewolucja [The Slept-through Revolution] (2014), a ground-breaking publication for the debates on Polish history. The revolution (the Second World War and the Yalta Conference) ensured stability, social order and economic growth, but it released citizens from their responsibility for change and deprived them of an opportunity for an act of political subjectivisation.

The exhibition is constructed with a cubist method of compositional realism; it consists of four chrono-political stories: on the pre-war period, on the right-after-the-war, on the constitutive moment for the modern, bourgeois culture in Poland and its degradation, and on the present, after 1989. Each section repeats a history, but from a perspective of a different time period, be it the time of works’ creation, or the historical moment about which it speaks. Each section manifests fantasy structures in different plasticity. Each juxtaposes the realist (bourgeois realism, socialist realism, the 1960s formalisms, "soc art" and "soc art dada"; etc. up to the contemporary explorations under the conditions of capitalist realism through the means of "occupational realism"), modernisation- and progress-oriented, with the romanticised, and often sentimental—as relating to a passing world. It invokes violence-related, often unconscious, ruptures and raptures, creatively "worked-through" by artists. However, realism and realist art are understood—after György Lukács—as art which presents the audience with a possibility of identification. Exhibition interrogates not only the social origins of Poland and the melioratory processes forming contemporary populace, but also the responsibility of art and the artist for the people’s position in the challenging genealogy of Polish society, and ask the question how time operates in art.

Curator: Ewa Tatar

Artists: Zuzanna Bartoszek, Dom Mody Limanka, Zuzanna Golińska, Tobiasz Jędrak, Agnieszka Kurant, Jan Moszumański, Tomasz Mróz, Dominika Olszowy, Witek Orski, Tomasz Pawłowski, Ewa Polska, Karol Radziszewski, Józef Robakowski, Adam Rzepecki, Wilhelm Sasnal, Jana Shostak, Mikołaj Sobczak, Ewa Zarzycka, Artur Żmijewski

The exhibition, composed of 100 items, features works from the collections of Białystok institutions: Galeria Arsenał, Muzeum Podlaskie, Muzeum Wojska, Podlaskie Muzeum Kultury Ludowej; Muzeum Południowego Podlasia in Biała Podlaska; Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw; and from private collections, including a.o.: Andrzej Strumiłło, Antoni Kenar, Benon Liberski, Cecylia Ambrożej-Chudzik, Danuta Łabanowska, Dionizy Purta, Edward Krasiński, Edward Rydz-Śmigły, Janusz Krajewski, Jan Czesław Moniuszko, Jan Bułhak, Jerzy Kossak, Jerzy Nowosielski, Jerzy Panek, Leon Tarasewicz, Ludomir Śleńdziński, Rafał Malczewski, Sławomir Chudzik, Stanisław Żywolewski, Tadeusz Bołoz, Tadeusz Kantor, Tymon Niesiołowski, Władysław Strzemiński

The exhibition patron is ElektroPol Sp. z o.o.

Arsenal Gallery
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