Shoulder to Shoulder
Artists: Ola Bydłowska, Yulia Frolova, Gorsad, Jan Jurczak, Paweł Kocpan, Daniel Kosoy, Yulia Krivich, Sasha Kurmaz, Milena Liebe, Marta Mach, Wiktor Malinowski, Dawid Misiorny, Tymon Nogalski, Victoria Pidust, Kajetan Plis, Kristina Podobed, Julie Poly, Krzysztof Powierża, Maksym Rudnik, Anton Shebetko, Elena Subach, Synchrodogs, Yan Wasiuchnik, Bartek Wieczorek
It all began on Thursday, 24 February, 2022. On that day, at the Czwartek gallery in Warsaw, we opened an exhibition, Roughly 5 km. We reflected on how to reach a receding horizon, and how to frame reality around one’s own perception. On that day, Russia invaded Ukraine. Nobody was prepared for that; or, at any rate, we weren’t. None of us had framed such images of reality. As disturbing updates flooded in, we were beset by questions, fear, a sense of helplessness, and the feeling that a story that was ‘never again’ to repeat itself was upon us. Between the images of destruction, we were hit by flashbacks to a past narrated by our elders. Afterimages, and with them the din of questions in our heads: How to react to war? How to create in times of annihilation? How to manage time that may soon expire? Fear pushed us to act. By the following Thursday, we were already working on the Slava Ukraini! exhibition. The idea was born spontaneously as an act of solidarity with artists confronted with an unimaginable tragedy overnight. A fragment of the text promoting the exhibition read as follows:
We invited artists from Ukraine to participate in the exhibition. The majority of them are at war now; the rest are constantly thinking about it. We did not want to impose a topic or direct what the photographs should depict. We gave freedom of choice, seeking to create a path for escaping the most harrowing thoughts, even if just for a moment. We don’t feel competent to describe or summarise anything. But we are able to express our solidarity.
The idea was simple, the circumstances complicated, the goal worthy, and time short. We felt the process of creating the exhibition would provide some respite from the unfolding devastation, however momentarily, and that it might allow us to gaze beyond the horizon to generate an image of a new reality. The process drew us together. Fourteen days after war was unleashed, there was a vernissage. The exhibition gained publicity, received positive reviews, aroused interest. Overheard at the opening: ‘Slava Ukraini! Ukraine is not yet dead, nor glory, nor freedom. Fate will smile upon us, young brothers!’ Someone else said: ‘If there is no art in times of war then only war will be left.’ We felt strong together. We felt confident it was all a success, at least as far as the exhibition was concerned. The war raged unabated and, three months later, it grinds on. Each of us is ‘richer’ with disturbing information. This wealth of knowledge makes nothing easier. Although we have received answers to some of the questions that had been clamouring in our heads, fresh anxiety has surfaced in the interim. Nobody knows what will happen next.
The exhibition Shoulder to Shoulder S[t]S is not a story of war, although it was created in its shadow. The presented works do not directly refer to events set in motion on 24 February of this year; rather, they refer to the process by which we participated as a collective, as individuals in an act of solidarity. We wanted it to be a story about solidarity—not about destruction. Three months later, we’re still thinking about it. How to catch up to a rapidly receding horizon? How to frame reality with one’s own perception? How to react to war?
The exhibition is co-organized by the Czwartek and the Szara Kamienica.
Galeria Szara Kamienica
Rynek Główny 6 St.
Thu –Fri 15.00–19.00