LAZNIA 1 LAZNIA 2 2016 - Monika Drożyńska
Monika Drożyńska
To Pickle
06.09 – 24.09.2016, opening 06.09.2016, 5 p.m
Artifex Gallery (Vilnus)
Curators: Agnieszka Kulazińska-Grobis, Aleksandra Księżopolska
Monika Drożyńska’s „To Pickle” exhibition looks into the question of how the national identities are being created. As a point of departure the artist interrogates Polish society from the minorities and enemies point of view, those who threaten the unity of the nation. The exhibition attempts to unravel how multi-layered, rich and fluctuating the phenomenon of the national identity is. It is a discussion which focuses on the redefinition and the rise of awareness of the current and past trends. The notion of the nation is not so obvious anymore. We live in a common Europe where the differences between individual countries are being blurred. However the migration (in the frames of EU too) and the multicultural society start to threaten our common wealth and pose questions about national identity. We live in a sort of schizophrenic situation. Societies are opening up but instead of marginalizing the conflicts this process wakes up old demons and threatens its foundations.
Four flags are being presented in the frames of the exhibition. The EU one was fermented with beetroot acid and it is attached to a blooming branch of a tree. Beetroot acid is a result of a biological process of fermentation. Could we describe the European identity in a similar way? Might it be an effect of a rank-and-file, almost organic ferment? Could it be forged in a meeting and dialogue? One cannot predict the results and the only way is to wait patiently for the each ingredient to combine and transform.
Drożyńska`s European Union flag turns into a table cloth after being detached  from a blooming branch of the tree. The branch is being put into a vase and individual elements of the artist’s work start to decorate the table, where one can sit, talk and simply share a common meal. Drożyńska`s flags deconstruct the notion of The European as well as national identity being looked upon from a political construct point of view. They define identity as the effect of an organic, interpersonal fermentation, a result of meeting with the other. The other from this perspective is no longer an unidentified threat but becomes a vital element in the creation of oneself.  
The other three flags have been embroidered manually with song lyrics, newspaper extracts, quotations from books and poems. They refer to different social, historical and cultural problematics. All of them tend to be raw, resembling unfinished sketches. They were created in collaboration with different groups of people; Polish Muslims and artist`s parents who have emigrated to the UK. Process of creating the flags is crucial in Drożyńska`s work. One of them had been done with the help of Złote Rączki (The Hands of Gold) school in the frames of the ongoing Drożyńska`s project. The Hands of Gold embroidery school for ladies and gentlemen is above all a place for meetings, which gathers men and women from various backgrounds and professions. All the participants are connected by a common passion to stitch, meet one another, develop skills and share the experience. The embroidery school is at the same time a political project based on discussion and quest for new values.
In the frames of the Vilnius exhibition the artist will work on the fifth flag with the Polish minority in Lithuania. Participants and Monika Drożyńska will embroider jointly in Lithuanian the initial words of Adam Mickiewicz’s epic poem „Sir Thaddeus”, „O Lithuania my country.” This work is as important for Poles as for the Lithuanians. The process of embroidery of the apostrophe poses questions with regards to the national identity and its contemporary, complicated image.  
The word “kwas” employed in the title of the exhibition has been used because of its double meaning in the Polish language. It refers to the natural, organic process of fermentation from one hand but from the other to human relations which can “be in a pickle”. The word “kwas” defines the two borderline points of interpersonal relationships. The positive one, which is the result of the organic fermentation and the negative one based on the construction of borders and creation of artificial political conceptions.
Homemade beetroot acid, which was used to ferment the EU flag will be served by Monika Drożyńska during the opening of the exhibition. Eastern Europe is known for its different types of pickled vegetables. We pickle cabbage, cucumbers, beet roots, bread. It is our heritage and our input into the European culture. It is what we have in common. Pickling is a part of our identity.
Municipal Institution of Culture