A visualisation from Conversio by Małgorzata Dawidek, photo courtesy of Małgorzata Dawidek
Małgorzata Dawidek has created a project about migrant women settled in Birmingham. The artist tracks women beginning their lives under new conditions in order to examine their processes of adaptation.&
Małgorzata Dawidek is a Polish artist living in the UK who links visual art, linguistics, literature and anthropology. She deals both with the language aspect of communication and the relationships between the body and words, images, and linguistic references.
In August 2015, Dawidek took part in an artistic residency at Centrala Gallery in Birmingham, where a month later she presented her new project Conversio. The project's name is taken from the Latin word conversio meaning conversion, exchange or circulation. It refers to both the Polish konwersja, wymiana, przemiana and the British converse or conversion, implying everything that might entail: conversation; exchange of thoughts; adaptation; inclusion in a new community; and changes made under new life conditions.
The audio-visual project tells the story of women migrating and settling down in Birmingham. The heroines are women of different ages, from varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds and social classes, all forced to live in new conditions.
Through her project, the artist examines adaptation processes of women restarting and re-evaluating their lives. Conversio documents how they function despite barriers that may crop up such as culture, language and their own body.
The project also discusses the concept of femininity understood as a representation of culture. Conversio is a kind of kaleidoscope of individual experiences and a dialogue with history up until the 1990s from the dominant western point of view. In this context, the project focuses on the attitudes of the excluded, namely migrants and stateless people, and aims to create a platform between East and West.
The exhibition uses a series of videos and animation, as well literary and artistic workshops where migrant women describe or show their stories, needs and emotions.
Centrala is a new multifunctional space in Birmingham run by the Polish Expats Association, a non-profit organisation presenting art from Central and Eastern Europe and the UK. It consists of an art gallery, training centre and artistic café. The aim of the gallery is to create an inspirational place and platform for building social ties. Their innovative programme includes socially-engaged contemporary art from Central and Eastern Europe as well as artists interested in the region’s culture, history and socio-political situation.
Małgorzata Dawidek (Małgorzata Dawidek Gryglicka) is a Polish visual artist based in the UK. Her artistic and academic interests combine visual arts, linguistics, literature and anthropology. She analyses issues of language awareness, the borders and possibilities of language, as well as the body perceived as “reality text”.
Dawidek studied painting (1996-2001) and art criticism (1997-2002) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań. In 2009, she gained a PhD in art history from the Institute of Art History at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Between 2004 and 2007, she worked at the Department of Painting at Academy of Fine Art in Poznań. Since 2013, she has taught at The Polish University Abroad in London. She is also a researcher of visual literature and the author of numerous articles, studies and books on visual texts, including: "Odprysk poezji. Stanisław Dróżdż mówi" (Kraków-Warsaw 2012) and “History of visual text: Poland after 1967″ (Wrocław-Kraków-Warsaw 2012).
She was awarded artistic grants from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (2002, 2010), the Young Poland scholarship (2012), the Mayor of Poznan award (2005) and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation artistic grant (2004-2005). Dawidek has also received the National Culture Centre Award for best PhD thesis in the field of culture (2010). In 2014, she took part in an artistic residency at The Art House in Wakefield in the UK.
Małgorzata Dawidek: Conversio
Centrala Gallery, Birmingham, UK
Małgorzata Dawidek, Centrala Gallery, Birmingham
3rd September to 16th October 2015
Sources: centrala-space.org.uk, dawidek.art.pl, edited by AS & AZ, translated by ND, 7.09.2015