What are rules governing the cosmos? What is the vision of independent living in Poland held by young, female refugees? How to make friends with a river? What, in a contemporary city, does exclusion mean?
During our meetings we asked ourselves questions about ways in which exclusion works: both, the smaller one – from a city space – and the larger – affecting young, refugee women and men – up to activities of humankind leading to our shortly arriving self-exclusion from this planet. Why and whom am I asking these questions?
The question of the river
I am asking these questions, because a morning press review makes me begin to be afraid… Apparently, already the next generation might not survive; by no means due to an influx of migrants, but rather due to a human-generated climate change. A picture in which Cecylia Malik is boating a river brimming with garbage is not a photograph of some remote corner of the Earth, but comes from a vicinity of Cracow. Our hopes can be raised by a development of urban movements, creating an alternative, functional vision of the city, where residents can actually influence processes which were hitherto happening outside of their reach. Until recently, they could only observe them; now, they want to shape them. Their vision has turned out to be consonant with values of long-established environmental movements; environmental organisations, with their mission, have been reinforced by city residents’ important voice.
The question of refugees
Without migrants, our economy would have collapsed. Centres for Foreigners are places on Polish territory, but for their male and female residents they remain outside Poland: they are pre-Poland, almost-already-Poland, but still-not-Poland. Warsaw, being international(ist) and multicultural, is often chosen by immigrants, as well as by people leaving the Centres, as their place of residence. The decision is influenced by e.g. the proximity of offices and institutions providing social care as well as support in their process of integration, but also by opportunities of maintaining contacts with people of similar background, creating communities, sustaining relationships.
The question of exclusion
20 million Polish men and women live abroad, often experiencing various forms of exclusion. The exclusion arises from their ‘otherness’. In a piece by Anna Jochymek, who is herself a migrant, living in London, we are talking about exclusion in the context of skating, which is a novel redefinition of urban space. Every kerb or a crack in the ground is an obstacle one has to challenge. In so doing, you are feeling and defining space anew. Simultaneously, the exclusionary mechanism is a loop – a loop which is clearly observable from a historical perspective. Mechanisms repeat themselves, all the more that teenagers are a group highly susceptible to such mechanisms.
The question of the cosmos
The cosmos is a metaphor for a new world: a world to emerge in more or less than a decade. None of us has yet arrived there; so far, no rules are governing there. Let us imagine the new world; let us create principles that should be adopted there; let us write our own constitution for the cosmos. And the most essential question: are we really capable of creating a better world?
Whom I am asking
These relevant, current problems are put to young and little persons, who will soon be giving shape to the world. The essence of the project lies in the assumption that children are capable of speaking up on important issues and taking active part in social life: let us just give them a voice and raise a generation of aware citizens.
I am also asking artists invited to participate in the project: Anna Pichura, Cecylia Malik, Pamela Bożek and Anna Jochymek. I am asking women, because their voice matters: they are the ones who can transform this world into a better one. I am also asking women-artists, since they often experience exclusion personally, in language, for example, when they are subsumed under masculine terms (in a gendered-language like Polish, the supposedly ‘gender-neutral’ terms (“artysta” – “an artist”) are, grammatically, masculine).
Together, we will try to speak through workshop artistic activities, for art to take up subjects of importance for us and for the future of our planet.
Curator: Marcin Polak
Artists: Anna Pichura (Konstytucja dla Kosmosu) [(Constitution for the Cosmos)], Cecylia Malik (Jak zaprzyjaźnić się z rzeką) [(How to Make Friends with a River], Pamela Bożek (Polonia. Z ziemi polskiej do Polski) ([Polonia. From Polish Land to Poland)], Anna Jochymek (Kolegium Deskorolkowe, czyli rozważania nad wykluczeniem społecznym w kontekście kultury alternatywnej) [(A Skating Symposium, or Reflections on Social Exclusion in the Context of Alternative Culture)]
Graphic design: Katarzyna Jasińska / Gra-Fika
Organiser: Fundacja Sztuka w Mieście, Ghelamco Poland
Co-operation: Szkoła Demokratyczna w Łodzi (Fundacja Edukacji Demokratycznej Dmuchawiec) [Democratic School in Łódź (The “Dmuchawiec” Foundation for Democratic Education], Ośrodek dla Cudzoziemców i Cudzoziemek w Łukowie [Centre for Foreigners in Łuków], Ognisko na Zielonej Białołęce (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Dzieci Ulicy im. Kazimierza Lisieckiego „Dziadka”) [Zielona Białołęka Youth Centre (Kazimierz “Dziadek” Lisiecki Society of Friends of Street Children)], Galeria W Y (W Y Gallery)
08.12.2018 – 28.02.2019