The artists reconstructs the famous gate of the Gdańsk shipyard where during the notorious Solidarność strikes in December 1981 the ZOMO tanks crushed it in order to get to the strikers...
Janusz Rydzewski, "Pacification of the Gdańsk Shipyard, 16 XII 1981", fragment of a photograph, photo courtesy of the author / press materials
Artist Dorota Nieznalska reconstructs the famous gate of the Gdańsk shipyard. The gate is iconic because during the notorious Solidarność strikes in December 1981, the ZOMO (the communist-era para-military police) tanks crushed it in order to get to the strikers
"I came up with the idea thanks to a photograph by my father (Bogusław Nieznalski), 'No pasaran!', taken on 16th of December 1981. I wanted to recreate the gate on that particular day, devastated by a tank, an a 1:1 scale", said Dorota Nieznalska in an interview with Natalia Grzebałkowska and Dorota Karas published in a supplement to daily Gazeta Wyborcza.
The project entitled "City event, a re-construction of violence" is the latest project by the artist, and her first official exhibition in Gdańsk in a decade. The exhibition follows her exhibition entitled "The identity of a place" organised in 2010 by the Gdańsk Municipal Art Biennale gallery, where Dorota Nieznalska won the title of "Queen of Poland". The prize was the chance to set up a solo exhibition at the Gdańsk branch of the Municipal Gallery and the publication of an exhibition catalogue.
The exhibition "City event, a re-construction of violence" refers to the city of Gdańsk in the 1980s. The main theme is violence and its various facets - racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and selected topics from the history of the city. Many of the new objects, installations and photographs presented in the gallery space reveal a historical event. The exhibition includes installations, objects, photographs and video from the Nieznalska's last two years, including:
• "Jewellery part. I", 2010 (video)
• "Jewellery part. II", 2010 (video)
• "Mowa nienawiści" / "Hate Speech", 2011 (video)
• "Lechia Gdańsk", 2010/2011 (video) - a research project on hate subtexts in public space in Gdańsk
• "Brunatna księga", 2011 (object)
• "Zbrodnia" / "Crime", 2010 (installation)
• "Kultura w polu widzenia! cz. 1 (Nec temere Nec timide / Bez strachu ale z rozwagą)", 2011
• "Re-konstrukcja z dnia 16 grudnia 1981" / "Re-construction of 16 December 1981", 2011 (installation - shipyard gate, archival documents and photos)
Marian Moćko, a participant of Martial Law, talks about the events of the time:
"I clambered onto the barricade and watched how the events unfolded. The gate was chest-high, because I stood on a trailer, my arms resting on (the sign's) top edge. I was wearing overalls, a jacket, gloves, ear muffs - I did not feel the cold. They could not drive cars, as they could not get through. I looked in the distance, and saw - at the crossroads in front of a high school - there were two tanks. The engines were turned on, getting ready to move. I could not have thought that the driver of the tank would do what I saw shortly. I was convinced that they would not shoot without a warning. I hoped that (because) after all, they were Poles.
They warmed up the engine, and the first tank started moving, gaining ever greater momentum. When it got a little closer, I saw that it was a special tank - to destroy barricades. I deluded myself that in a moment it would slow down, but when it was just a dozen meters away from the gates, I thought 'this is the end'. The ones standing at the back, behind me, began to run from on the platforms, further away, jumping off, but I just clenched my hands tighter to the gate. Then I looked death in the face. I noticed a man in the middle of it all, not afraid, (but felt) absolutely nothing".
-Excerpt from an interview with Marian Moćko - participants of strikes and pacification of the Gdańsk Shipyard, in a book by Edmund Szczesiak "Window to Freedom".
Dorota Nieznalska (born 1973 in Gdańsk) rose to fame in 2000, as the artist behind the installation entitled "Pasja" / "Passion" - a cross with images of male genitalia. This work saw her being sued, and earned her the moniker "chief scandalist in Polish art". In 2010, she was finally acquitted of the charge of insulting religious feelings.
Curator: Iwona Bigos.
Exhibition opening: 26 August 2011.
The exhibition runs till the 30th of September 2011.
Gdańska Galeria Miejska 2
ul. Powroźnicza 13/15,16/17
Source: Press materials, www.gazeta.pl