“If we do not now dare everything, the fulfilment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, the fire next time!” – James Baldwin wrote in 1962. This quote became an inspiration for Maria Brewińska, who prepared the exhibition Alienations or The Fire Next Time at the Zachęta in 2019. Seven films by seven outstanding international artists showed the face of modern alienation: from social through racial to ecological issues. This spring, the second edition of the exhibition was scheduled to open at the Silesian Museum in Katowice. Unfortunately, the plans have changed, but Alienation remains acutely topical today. In the ninth issue of the Zachęta Online Magazine we recall, among others, this exhibition.
We open the latest issue with Andrzej Wajs’s essay on Alienations written for the Katowice exhibition. “What is alienation? A departure from oneself, tearing off the fabric of the world with which we can no longer engage in a dialogue, stripping it of remains that remind us of our common origin? It is all this, undoubtedly, but above all it is also something that we do not yet know. The fun is just about to begin, and no one can predict it how it will go on”, writes the author from the perspective of 2020. We also encourage you to revisit the materials accompanying the exhibition at the Zachęta: the curatorial text by Maria Brewińska, film descriptions, and photographic documentation. We also present the guide to the exhibition in Polish Sign Language (available to hearing people).
Selected from our collection, we recall Jarosław Kozakiewicz’s short mockumentary Satopticon – a pastiche of popular science TV programs. Presenting the history of building a futuristic prison located in Earth’s orbit, the artist draws attention to injustice, abuse, and risk associated with modern technology and technocracy, rooting his SF in the problems of the modern world. We also recommend the texts in the folder accompanying Ferit Kuyas’s exhibition City of ambition (2011), in which the artist presented photos of Chongqing – one of the many Chinese cities growing at an impressively and terrifyingly rapid pace and scale, currently occupying an area equal to one third of Poland, inhabited by over 32 million people.
Finally, we return to the 1969 exhibition of photos by Leonard Sempoliński Warsaw 1945, presented by Kamila Leśniak from the Institute of Art History of the University of Warsaw. In turn, Karolina Grzywnowicz’s Weeds is a project about plants that form a unique record of political and social history – recalling the history of people deported from the Bieszczady Mountains, Beskid Niski, Beskid Sądecki, Przemyskie Foothills, and Roztocze. To this day, plants remain an evergreen and ineradicable mark of human presence. We invite you to listen to the recording of the artist’s conversation with curator Zbigniew Libera and philosopher Paweł Mościcki which accompanied her exhibition at the Zachęta Project Room in 2015.