Found items from the Gdańsk Shipyard tour major European cities this fall, arriving in Madrid in early October. These objects, with their peculiar blend of the banal and the legendary, reflect the historical surroundings in which the myth of the shipyard was born and examine the evolution of those myths in contemporary Europe.
The shipyard shed
Found items from the Gdańsk Shipyard tour major European cities this fall, arriving in Madrid in early October. These objects, with their peculiar blend of the banal and the legendary, reflect the historical surroundings in which the myth of the shipyard was born and examine the evolution of those myths in contemporary Europe
Solidarność Camp is a project developed by Nowy Teatr in Warsaw and Instytut Sztuki Wyspa/Fundacja Wyspa Progress in Gdańsk. As an art space, the Camp is an installation that will be modified in each of the sites it visits. The installation prepared by Grzegorz Klaman consists of steel 'sheds' that were once put up at the Gdańsk Shipyard by workers who wanted a private space away from the construction yard. Here many conversation were held that led to the uprising of the workers in the early eighties.
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 trade union 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?
"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 one of the set-up sheds will have an assigned function, and host different art events:
Elżbieta Jabłońska - The Revolt (2011)
Elżbieta Jabłońska’s intervention at Solidarność Camp is based on the principle of performativity which derives from Austin’s concept of ‘performative utterances’ combining it with a specific physical action. The events that have recently stirred European cities, Madrid also, are forms of social disagreement with the order whose political, social and above all economic facts of existence have exhausted their conciliatory potential and have become unacceptable.
Throughout her residence at the Solidarność Camp, the artist will induce small, daily changes with the use of words and actions. New elements will constantly appear and cause a commotion and change the status quo. The revolt in Jabłonśka’s interpretation is the moment when communication is simultaneously the main priority and the greatest difficulty. It breaks through depite the noise, gibberish and lack of dialogue. When it finds an outlet, it has the power to change. Sometimes this outlet is blocked because of a lack of faith and the infinite possibilities of interpretation.
Solidarność Camp Video Library
Polish video art, documentary films and animations made after 1989.
Never happened (2004)
The content of books wrapped in paper is bracketed with the words printed on the wrapping paper: NEVER HAPPENED. The phrase is an attempt (perhaps a successful one) to invalidate the wrapped contents. In reality, however, it is quite easy to find out if there are any grounds for such condescending generalisations like statements “never happened”, “let bygones be bygones” etc.
Solidarność Camp Reading Room
A collection of Polish books, albums and magazines for the public, including exhibition and theater festival catalogues, translations of plays and literature about art involved in social and political transformation. The reading room houses material published by
the following institutions: Panga Pank editorial, Fundacja Bęc Zmiana, Narodowa Galeria Sztuki Zachęta, Narodowe Centrum Kultury, Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, Instytut Teatralny im. Zbigniewa Raszewskiego and Instytut Sztuki Wyspa.
The Inner Ear Massage Parlour
Performers: Jacek Mazurkiewicz, Patryk Zakrocki
This charlatan project combines truth withfiction, the absurd and the grotesque but treating things in a professional and serious manner. With reference to traditional shamans and the barber surgeons of medieval Europe it seeks to find the very deep connections between medicine and music. As charlatans IEMP are absolved and free from convention, but as good-hearted people they have the best intentions in what they do. In accordance with the science and wisdom of Professor Ripplemark, IEMP play and heal others equally as well as themselves. Only one person can enter the shed during each 12-minute-long performance.
Grzegorz Klaman's project presents a seemingly invisible work. The shed is empty, with only its original equipment and a few graphic signs of habitation - drawings, posters or photgraphs which seem to have been there forever. Visitors walk into an empty space equipped with a computer that tells stories about the shipyard workers. It is also possible to use a smart phone app to watch the video. Four markers can be found in the very places the workers were sitting when they recorded their interviews. These men, who contributed their stories to the project - Zbigniew Stefański, Czesław Szultk, Roman Łopuchow and Jan Kryger - talk about their work and lives in the shipyard, self-help, the underground and the shed’s ever changing functionality. The work deals with materialisation and dematerialisation of memory, political negotiations through this medium with only a semblance of visibility.
Solitarity: Museum, Anniversary, Statue (2005, reedition 2011)
Marek Sobczyk’s work deals with interruption, feelings of uncertainty, solitude and betrayal. This neologism Solitarity combines ideas of detachment and parasitism. The artist has created a maze of images on semitransparent panels, an iconographic junkyard of national symbolism and popculture media pulp. It’s a place of relapses, deviations, clashes and disgust. The film on the monitor has been edited from videotaped conversations between the artist and Solidarity members and intellectuals. The Solitarity of which they speak is a state of the human spirit. These people’s radicalism, disagreement with the politics of compromise, feelings of isolation in the face of dynamic changes and the entire context of the modern world, which they can’t bring themselves to accept reflects a deep realisation of a rupture in the sense of community. Sobczyk’s work brings politics and power into a dimension of philosophical debate, applying to it the criterium of Solitarity, the detachment of a covert existence, which occured as an inevitable result of the end of the ideals of Solidarity - ideals that advocated togetherness. Who is the parasite? Do we feed on the revolution or does it feed on us? What happens to ideals when the revolution comes to power? What does it mean to betray revolutionary ideals?
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 Camp Solidarity: 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. Subjects discussed include the theatre of politics, women's roles in revolt and an examination of post-working class legacies.
Grzegorz Klaman was born in 1959, artist, co-author of the Wyspa Institute of Arts, a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, co-founder of a new art scene in Gdańsk, one of the most influential artists of his generation in Poland, the leader of an independent artistic movement in Gdańsk. A pioneer in activities that combine issues pertaining to the state, art, public space and activism. His idea of Reverse Archaeology (1987) lay at the basis of the Wyspa Institute’s continuous sustained participation in the running discourse on culture and politics. He was a Fulbright scholar at Florida Atlantic University, where the Schmidt Art Center held his solo exhibition. His work has been included in many exhibitions: History of Violence in the Haifa Museum of Art and Chosen in the Digital Art Lab in Holon, In-Between, Chicago Cultural Center (2001), Biennale in Łódź (2004), Dockwatchers (2005), Over and over again (2009), Political Things, Wyspa Institute of Art (2010) or Crushing In, the Nobel Museum, Stockholm (2010).
Date: 11th-20th of October, 2011
Venue: Centro Creativo Matadero, Madrid
Organised by: Nowy Teatr, Instytut Sztuki Wyspa, Centro Creativo Matadero, Warszawa ESK, Gdańsk Shipyard
Project cofinanced by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
See attached PDF for full programme information