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“Cities of the Archipelago nurse their misfortunes,” wrote Philip Springer in his latest book. Misfortune number one: war. Misfortune number two: the failure of large industrial plants, employing a host of inhabitants, a new society living in new provincial towns in new houses of concrete slabs. This is the story about all these small towns, about sisterhood that is born on the ruins mistreated by history. It is about looking for community in a seemingly hopeless situation.
After the fall into lethargy, caused by a catastrophe, it is hard for small towns to awaken a new world. In the video of Maciej Cholewa, people who live in the unspecified, universal Small Town, over time agree with their fate and turn into concrete telecommunication poles. Sometimes such posts take root at the other end of the world, but the lines connecting them to the Small Town remain strong. Helena, cousin of the grandma of Izabela Mrugala, for some time a prisoner in Auschwitz, snuck out by a Polish guard escaped to Adelaide in Australia. She stayed there for the rest of her life, but she cultivated the memory of home town, Tychy, more and more over the years. In her letters we find recollections, but also small objects, seeds, lemons. Regardless of the fact that plants from such distant countries as Poland and Australia are perceived as exotic at their destination, women strive to rebuild the thread that binds them.
Aliona Haiduk refers to the unusual historical manifestation of sisterhood. She recalls the memory of the female political protests that took place during the January Uprising (in Belarus known as the Kalinowski Insurrection) during the years 1863-1864. Women wore black clothes then to show solidarity with the insurgents. They protested in their own way, available to them at the time. Until finally the authorities forbade wearing mourning. The artist takes on the role of anonymous heroines. The sign of fighting is clothing, a dress used to build a sense of community. The revolt of women is often associated with the body and the symbolism of the costume – no wonder that this story resembles last year’s black protests so much.
The armed conflict is inextricably linked to the corporeality. Regardless of the degree to which it is technicalized, in the end it is always about the body. Their footprints are intertwined with equally battered bodies of cities. In the official perspective, however, what counts are the stories about the heroes, with whose monuments urban spaces are peppered. Still as a child, soaked with heroic, tragic stories that stimulate imagination, ŁukaszRadziszewski grabbed a pen and began to draw war. Continuing this series to this day, over the years, he began to look at his paintings more and more critically.
The roots of the person incorporated in a Small Town are intertwined into a wider network. In Radziszewski’s video, we see sunrises and sunsets recorded at individual points of the globe in such a way that their 24-hour transmission gives the impression that the sun stands in one point. The apparent stagnation is a result of the coordinated work of many people, thanks to the Internet, which, despite growing commercialization and subordination to particular interests, enables people to become more and more self-organized. Today stopping the Sun and moving the Earth may be achieved no longer be an individual, but only by a legion of geeks from small towns around the world.
CURATORS: Vera Zalutskaya, Piotr Policht