12. 11 – 11. 12 2011
Looking into Neighbourship, Uqbar +Kronenboden, Schwedenstrasse 16,  D -1 Berlin
Curator: Agnieszka KulazińskaBerlin, Partner: Uqbar, Curator: Dorothee Bienert


During the recent presentation of the book “Polish! – Contemporary Art from Poland”[1] the question was raised as to what was actually Polish about art from Poland. Not an easy question to answer, as the artists differ significantly, in their choice of strategies, topics, and techniques – whether this is due to their respective generation, a certain school or individual experiences and interests. But still, at least in the opinion of the participants in the discussion, there are issues that seem particularly close to the heart of Polish artists. One of these issues is the critical, sometimes also tongue-in-cheek exploration of the artists’ identity as Poles, of the inferiority complex connected to their native country’s position in Europe and of the prejudices they encounter.[2] Add to this the often heated discussion on the moral concept represented by the extremely influential Catholic Church, and a critical discourse on the traumata of the history of the 20th century, which would not be imaginable in Germany, for instance.

The exhibition “Looking into Neighbourship” presents a small selection of works opening new perspectives on what has been overlooked, – has been underfoot, so to speak. The projects by artists such as Karolina Breguła, Monika Drożyńska, Karolina Freino and Alicja Karska/Aleksandra Went explore the changes in urban space and of the various forms of neighbourship. The artists have turned their inquisitive gaze on small things, which allow the bigger questions, such as the treatment of history and its evidence, the relationship between the public and the private or the challenges created by cultural differences, to shine through.

The artists have heterogeneous backgrounds: they grew up in four different Polish cities (Katowice, Kraków, Szczecin, Gdańsk), studied art at different art academies, and today live in Warszawa, Kraków, Wrocław and Gdańsk. They employ documentary, gender-critical and participatory strategies: documenting places and things disappearing from urban space and from public awareness (Karska/Went, Freino), using techniques traditionally associated with female domestic work (Drożyńska) and inviting the public to participate in the development and implementation of their projects (Freino, Breguła).

Each one of the artists presented takes aspects of urbanity as their points of departure for their projects and interventions. With diligent research, but also with irony and wit they create awareness for what is right at hand, and for our obliviousness to the obvious.

[1]           Panel discussion in Bonn and Düsseldorf, in May 2011, organised by the Polish Institute Düsseldorf.

[2]           These topics are dealt with e.g. in works by artists as Grzegorz Klaman, Piotr Uklanski and Hubert Czerepok, such as his neon letters proclaiming “You will never be a Pole”, 2008.

Municipal Institution of Culture