The interdisciplinary project brings back the historic sheds of Gdańsk shipyard’s workers and engages various forms within the installed art spaces in different European capitals. It attempts to uncover the meanings that "Solidarity" resonates with in modern Europe - from Brussels in the west to Kiev in the east.
The interdisciplinary project brings back the historic sheds of Gdańsk shipyard’s workers and engages various forms within the installed art spaces in different European capitals. It attempts to uncover the meanings that "Solidarity" resonates with in modern Europe - from Brussels in the west to Kiev in the east
Solidarity trade unions' federation emerged on the 31st of August, 1980, at the Gdańsk Shipyard under Lech Wałęsa’s leadership. It was the first trade union not controlled by the communist party in all of the countries of the communist bloc. The union played its role in Poland of the 1980s, as a nation wide anti-bureaucratic social movement, which employed the methods of civil resistance to advance the causes of workers’ rights and social change. Solidarity's influence led to the intensification and spread of anti-communist ideals and movements throughout the countries of the Eastern Bloc, weakening their communist governments.
Poland's presidency of the European Council provides an opportunity to re-examine the significance of the ideas cherished by Solidarity in present-day Europe. How did the movement affect European sensibilities? Are its values still valid or are they now obscured by consumerism and materialism, and their alienating character of capitalism? The project is a chance to reflect critically upon the future of Solidarity, and discover new meanings and phenomena with which it could be associated. Is it possible to revive these ideals or are they destined to become slogans of an ageing continent? Can Europe afford to show solidarity with illegal immigrants? Is solidarity still a living component of European civilisation, or is it just a catchword covering up cynical interests?
The Camp is an installation, an art space which is modified in each of the sites it visits. Objects from the Gdańsk Shipyard selected and adapted by Grzegorz Klaman set on a tour to major European capitals. Their trivial yet legendary character is taken out of its immediate context as these artefacts attempt to transmit the Shipyard’s myth and place it under scrutiny far from its original setting.
For years, workers of the Gdańsk Shipyard constructed their own private sheds within the huge production space. It was there that they would meet up during their breaks, have coffee or lunch, rest, and then - plot conspiracy against the regime. The humble zones of privacy and comfort were always respected by the management, in spite of no officially regulated status. These small hubs of social life lightened the burden of daily toil. Their design, colour and furnishings reflected the unbridled creativity of their users, and gave a vent for the workers' free self-expression. Made using whatever materials were at hand, these improvised shelters are among the last remaining testimonies to the ingenuity of workers who fashioned strange constructions and vehicles, attempting to make their lives somewhat easier. No longer serving their function, and consigned to be melted down at a steel-mill, the tiny havens now languish on the shipyard grounds.
"Solidarity Camp" offers a village of these sheds to the public. Grzegorz Klaman, together with the shipyard workers, modified the shelters in accordance with EU transport regulations. The hybrid constructions which emerged from this process blend the indigenous with the normative. Regulation practices thus become a reference point for the installation project, which forms a narrative of the shipyard shed’s struggle for survival in a new reality of the European Union. The sheds will be installed in different settings as "Solidarity Camp" and the Camp's surroundings will be modified in cooperation with various artists.
The Camp will be set up for 8 to 10 days in each city. 5 sheds will be set up, centering around an area which will serve as a natural meeting point, where lectures and concerts will take place. Each little hut will host visual installations, performance art, various presentations, meetings and political interventions. More intimate hide-and-seek type games, sharing meals and simple being together will also be welcomed within these spaces.
Each of the sheds will have an assigned function, and host different art events:
- A shed hosting the political multimedia presentation about the history of Gdańsk Shipyard sheds, prepared by Grzegorz Klaman
- A shed-residence for different Polish artists: Zorka Wollny, Marek Sobczyk, Roman Dziadkiewicz and Karol Radziszewski
- A shed presenting the works of artists Agnieszka Kurant, Paweł Mykietyn, Adam Witkowski, and Anna Molska.
- A shed serving as a space for changing artistic activities, exhibitions, small audio and video installations.
- A chill-out shed with a bar serving vodka
Lectures given at the Camp's opening in each city form a key event of the installation. The following guests have been invited to speak at "Solidarity Camp": Bruno Latour, Naomi Klein, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Ranciere, and Chantal Mouffe. Another element of the programme comprises readings of contemporary Polish plays, reflecting the process of changes which occured during Poland’s journey from Solidarity to the European Union.
Plays chosen for the readings are:
Bożena Keff’s "Utwór o Matce i Ojczyźnie" / "On the Mother and Fatherland"
Paweł Demirski’s "Brylanty to węgiel, który wziął się do roboty" / "Diamonds Are Coal That Got Down to Work"
Julia Holewińska’s "Ciała obce" / "Alien Bodies"
These writings lend their voice to a generation that did not take part in political changes and the fall of communism. It is a generation which was thrown into a "brave new world" and is now trying to make sense of what happened. The readings will be directed by Marcin Liber, and actors from each hosting country are to participate. In addition to the readings, a documentation of Jan Klata’s "H" performance is to be screened within "Solidarity Camp". The young director’s 2004 play discusses the ideals and the legend of Solidarity movement.
Date: 7th-11th of September, 2011
Venue: National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kiev
Organised by: Nowy Teatr, Instytut Sztuki Wyspa, Warszawa ESK, Gdańsk Shipyard
Project cofinanced by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.