May 12, 2015 - European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 - Dispossession, a collateral event of 56th Venice Biennale
May 12, 2015

Dispossession, a collateral event of 56th Venice Biennale

Tomasz Opania, Green border, 2015. Multimedia installation. Photo: Małgorzata Kujda.

Venice Biennale collateral event
May 9–November 22, 2015

Palazzo Doná Brusa
Campo San Polo 2177

The Dispossession exhibition, organised by Wrocław European Capital of Culture 2016, is an official collateral event of 56th Venice Biennale. It features works by artists from Germany, Poland and Ukraine relating to the historical axis of displacements that revolves around Wrocław. As a city whose almost entire population was replaced during and after the Second World War, its confused identity and history becomes a departure point for this exhibition’s thinking about losing and seeking a home. 

The phenomenon of dispossession is approached here from a private perspective of abandoning one’s home and claiming someone else’s house. Stories of historical and contemporary displacements are intertwined in the exhibition in an attempt to expose the permanence and repetition of these processes. A recognition of the atemporal character of dispossession permeates the show  and can be traced in works as diverse as Oksana Zabuzhko’s commissioned texts and Manaf Halbouni’s installation. 

What appears here is a question of a life in transit, of a precarious journey and an experience of being transported and deprived of agency or a sense of direction. This state of disorientation and precarity manifests itself both in the works referring to the Second World War and to current conflicts, a connection which can be seen for example in the neighbouring installations by Dorota Nieznalska and Thomas Kilpper. There looms an image of a home that is unobtainable and can never be truly reached. 

Memory, as the most important force that connects one to his or her lost home, appears both stubborn and malleable. The Open Group juxtaposes voices of two women displaced during conflicts almost seventy years apart. In Tomasz Opania’s installation, the national identity of his family—who refused to leave their house when the borders changed—is put to question. The stories of lost home and missing relatives expose not only the workings of a memory that clings to some images and represses others, but also highlights the inadequacy of language to express emotions and reminiscences.

The other side of losing a home is the necessity to search for a new one, often in a foreign and hostile place. Susanne Keichel’s photographs document the socio-political situation in Dresden since the emergence of the PEGIDA movement through a series of personal and inquisitive pictures. The realistic sculpture by Szymon Kobylarz doubles as a peculiar infographic showing statistical data about migration in Poland. What is exposed here is that the sense of belonging is far from being merely an individual choice, as the right to it must be granted. 

From weaving together the past and the present, the imagined and the registered, an image emerges here of a home that is phantasmagoric, precariously balancing between reality and absence. The concluding image of Dispossession is Andriy Sahaydakovskyy’s installation depicting a world on the verge of collapse. It is in those subtle slippages and uncertain balances that we find a home that is never quite there. 

Curated by: Michał Bieniek, Małgorzata Miśniakiewicz
Artists: Manaf Halbouni, Susanne Keichel, Thomas Kilpper, Szymon Kobylarz, Michael Merkel, Dorota Nieznalska, Tomasz Opania, The Open Group, Andriy Sahaydakovskyy, Oksana Zabuzhko.
Organised by: European Capital of Culture Wroclaw 2016 
Media contact: Wiola Samborska, wiola.samborska [​at​]


ECoC Wrocław 2016 presents Dispossession, a collateral event of 56th Venice Biennale
European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016
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