Karolina Balcer Happy Family
13.05 – 24.07.2022 Karolina Balcer Happy Family
curator: Magda Kardasz
collaboration: Monika Kopczewska
exhibition production: Anna Muszyńska and team
Happy Family is a family project. The impetus to create it was the situation the artist’s older brother Filip found himself repeatedly. Although nothing was lacking in family home, he was periodically homeless. The problem of homelessness is so complex that it is often difficult to pinpoint its causes. Among the most common is social exclusion caused by mental illness or disorder, including addiction, or by a long-term stay in prison. It involves misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis, stigmatisation of the mentally ill, lack of access to help or the ability to use it by the sick and their relatives. Through personal experience, the artist can tell a true story and perhaps break the taboo surrounding the subject of mental health. In this story, her brother is no longer just a family member — he becomes a representative of society.
The works in the exhibition metaphorically refer to mental health issues. The starting point was ‘sweeping problems under the carpet’ — a process that is harmful and only multiplies problems. The artist used tufting and other textile techniques to create the works. The exhibition consists of paintings and objects with textual elements, referring to utilitarian objects associated with domestic space, such as carpets, doormats, lamps, towels, curtains or TV cabinets. The author wanted to create a friendly space, conducive to discussions on difficult subjects (meetings will be held in one of the gallery rooms).
The works for the exhibition were created with the support of the artist’s family members. To co-create the educational program and the publication the artist invited: streetworker Wojtek Skibicki, psychiatrist Marta Ciułkowicz, psychotherapist Magdalena Peron-Szott, as well as psychology and Polish philology graduate Maria Maćkowiak.
The process of shaping the Happy Family project was curated by Paweł Jarodzki.
Karolina Balcer — born in 1988 in Toruń. The artist currently lives and works in Warsaw. Graduate of the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław (2014) and interdepartmental doctoral studies at the same school (2017). The media she uses are painting, video, installations in public space, and more recently tufting (carpet technique) or the textile method in its broadest sense. Her work often deals with architecture, which she treats as a tool for organising social or family life, but also as a refuge. Many of her projects begin with observations of people, social problems, including her own family. Between 2015 and 2019, she co-headed the Wykwit gallery in Wrocław. From 2017 to 2020, she was a member of the Wykwitex art collective. Since 2019, she has been heading the nomadic initiative Why Quit with Iwona Ogrodzka.
Since 2020 she has been working on a family project called Happy Family addressing mental health issues, culminating in a series of exhibitions with an accompanying education programme to raise awareness of mental health and homelessness. The series begins with an exhibition at the Zachęta Project Room. The publication Happy Family — poradnik zdrowia psychicznego [Happy Family — A Guide to Mental Health] will soon be published by Krupa Gallery and the Bęc Zmiana publishing house.
more information about the artist and the project: