Witold Gombrowicz wrote in A Kind of Testament: “What is Poland? This is a country between the East and the West, where Europe starts to draw to an end, a border country where East and West soften each other”.
This transitionality is particularly strongly discernible in the eastern part of Poland where Białystok and Lublin are situated. The history of these cities was created by many nations, the traces of which can be found in their material fabric as well as in the awareness of today’s inhabitants. It is hard to call these cities “eastern” but undoubtedly they are not also “western”, even though they aspire to be such. Only 50 km to the east of Białystok there is a border with Bielarus and about 100 km from Lublin – a border with Ukraine. Up to 1991 it had been a border with one totalitarian state – USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the border experienced the revival of contacts between the border countries, especially with regards to trade. It became decidedly less “tight” and more “permeable”. It was also a new chapter – stepping up relations between Poland and Poles with their eastern neighbours. It lasted barely several years. Poland’s accession to the European Union and the Schengen Area shortly thereafter opened our country to Western Europe, closing it off the East. Our eastern border has become an external border of the Community, which in consequence led to a necessity imposed by Brussels to strengthen it and implement many new restrictions for the border traffic. Most importantly, this has created a new iron curtain, a new wall dividing Europe into two parts. This division is equally artificial as the one from before 1991. However, the border is as real as it gets.
Therefore, the eastern part of the Schengen Area constitutes the main, but not the only reference point for the exhibition. Not the only one as the reality turns out to be very dynamic and in the recent years Europe has been marked by other places where existing borders are changing their character. On those borders walls and dams have been erected to impede movement of refugees, inside the Schengen Area border controls are being introduced in different places, the Polish border guards do not allow the Chechen fugitives to enter Poland, nationalistic tendencies are developing in the European countries and the facts are being manipulated openly giving rise to xenophobic sentiments. We cannot forget about an undeclared war which is still being fought in the east of Ukraine. The situation is also tense between Georgia and Russia. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh still echoes in our memories.
The topic of borders is continually present in visual artists’ creativity. Borders understood very broadly, not only limited to their geographical aspect. The exhibition will feature both known, already existing works of art and the new ones, executed especially for this event.
“Attention! Border” has been created in cooperation with Galeria Labirynt in Lublin and Galeria Arsenał in Białystok and it consists of two parts presented simultaneously in both cities. Most of the artists will show two different works of art, some of them, however, will display works consisting of two parts which will be exhibited at the same time in both galleries. Therefore, if you wish to fully get acquainted with the project, you must visit both Arsenał and Labirynt.
Artists: Ovidiu Anton (AT), Babi Badalov (AZ), Janusz Bałdyga (PL), Mirosław Bałka (PL), Anna Baumgart (PL), Anatoly Belov (UA), Yevgenia Belorusets (UA), Pavel Braila (MD), Fatma Bucak (TR), David Chichkan (UA), Hubert Czerepok (PL), Yaroslav Futymskyi (UA), Ferenc Gróf (HU-FR), Barbara Gryka (PL), Elżbieta Jabłońska (PL), Maciej Kwietnicki (PL), Victoria Lomasko (RU), Marina Naprushkina (BY), Tymon Nogalski (PL), Open Group (UA), Petr Pavlensky (RU), Dan Perjovschi (RO), Ghenadie Popescu (MD), R.E.P. (UA), Mykola Ridnyi (UA), Jadwiga Sawicka (PL), Sabina Shikhlinskaya (AZ), Jana Shostak (BY), Société Réaliste (HU-FR), TanzLaboratorium (UA), Lubomyr Tymkiv (UA), Vova Vorotniov (UA), Piotr Wysocki (PL), Anna Zvyagintseva (UA)
Curators: Monika Szewczyk, Waldemar Tatarczuk
Realised thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage