18.07.2022 - 12.08.2022 Events, Visual arts

Głosy / Voices

Art exhibition combining words and images.

July 18-29, 2022 – St. John the Baptist in Norwich (Unthank Rd, Norwich NR2 2PA)

July 30 – August 12, 2022 – POSK Gallery (Polish Social and Cultural Center, 238-246 King
Street, Hammersmith, London W6 0RF)

The art exhibition Głosy / Voices is a combination of words and images. The former were written by a poet born in the 1950s, while the pictures are the work of a photographer from the 1980s generation. The juxtaposition of the images and words of the two artists constitute a coherent
whole… an artwork constructed over two generations. The exhibition was inspired by Jan Polkowski’s volume of poetry Głosy / Voices, which the poet invited Maria Gąsiecka to adorn with her photos.

Jan Polkowski’s cycle of poems entitled Voices has no counterpart in Polish literature, or world literature, for that matter. It is no haphazard collection of poems, but a coherent and thematically homogenous cycle of eighteen verses dedicated to the victims of the massacre on the Baltic Coast in 1970.

Maria Gąsiecka’s black and white photographs of the deserted Gdańsk Shipyard, in combinationwith Jan Polkowski’s moving poems, combine to evoke an atmosphere of the passing moment,and history. The exhibition is intended to provoke reflection on the meaning of existence andpassing away. Polkowski’s stirring poems permit us to remember those who passed away too early and unexpectedly, recalling to our eyes recent events that still remain a timeless image of the world around us.

Exhibition curator, Maria Gąsecka, says:

‘Jan Polkowski is an exceptional person. He is a man who does not need to be met face to face in order to be moved by his sensitivity. He is a poet who can reach audiences of all ages with his words. For several years, contemporary art has been stuck in a vicious circle, a kind of crisis. The recipient is not able to refer to many works, ashamed to admit that they do not understand them, looking for meaning and message. The volume of poetry by Jan Polkowski is a collection of poems inspired by the events of December 1970, when Polish soldiers were ordered to shoot Polish workers protesting on the coast. It tells a little-known story, one suppressed by the communist authorities and, as a result, largely forgotten. The poems are literal. I had the pleasure to work on the set of the feature film Black Thursday, Janek Wiśniewski fell and the documentary film Black Thursday, why? which I met the participants of the events in Gdynia. Doctors, nurses, grown-up men today who miraculously did not die as boys. Polkowski tells their experiences literally. His poems are an extraordinary account of history.

In 2021, the Institute of Literature published the  Głosy in foreign languages. It is an excellent way to not only share Polish poetry with a foreign audience, but also the nation’s history. The English translations are the work of Charles S. Kraszewski, a poet of Polish origin living in the United States. When reading the poems in English, you can feel the enormity of the work and sensitivity that the writer put into the translation of the works. From its first publication, the volume of Głosy has been enriched with photographs by the Gdańsk Shipyard by Maria Gąsecka. The juxtaposition of Polkowski’s works with these black and white images create the nucleus of today’s art exhibition.

The art exhibition Głosy / Voices is a collection of ten pictures, six poems and four photographs. I selected the poems together with Magdalena Filipczuk, who runs the project on behalf of the Institute of Literature. The selected poems are varied and I hope that they will encourage the recipient to read the book, Polkowski’s other works and to interest recipients in the history of Poland. The selected photograms are artworks from the Mute collection, which was presented in Poland in 2011 and 2013. The set of black and white images show an abandoned, forgotten and neglected “historical monument”. The buildings that witnessed these historic political changes in Poland – and subsequently throughout Europe, have long since fallen into neglect. Today they are have been relegated to the dustbin of history, just like the forgotten victims of December ’70. The killed and those who survived the gunshots are forgotten.

The set Głosy / Voices will be on display in London (at POSK) and Norwich (at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library in the Forum building and The Crypt Gallery).’


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