29.04 - 13.05. 2022
- Angelina Mass (she,her; Belarus/Germany)
- Agnieszka Szczotka (she, her; Poland/UK)
- Agnieszka Szostek (she, her; Poland/Germany)
- Barbara ‘Kai’ Kaniewska (he, him; Poland/Denmark)
- Bartek ‘Arobal’ Kociemba (he, they, Poland/Denmark)
- Liliana Zeic (she, her; Poland)
- Magda Buczek (she, her; Poland/ Denmark)
- Rine Rodin (she,her; Denmark/ Sweden)
- Thorbjorn Uldam (he, him; Denmark/ Germany)
- Yuriy Biley (he, him; Poland/ Denmark)
- Vala Foltyn (she, her; Poland/ Denmark/ Sweden)
Marta Czyż & VLP
Statens Kunstfond Denmark and Kultur(A)
CONSULTATION & TEXTS
The latest exhibition at artist-run gallery Vi Lever På Polsk (VLP) in Copenhagen grows out of the fissures and misunderstandings, which are succinctly expressed through the simple typography of its title – the mirrored reflection of the word TAK. TAK, the Polish particle meaning ‘yes’, is used to express an affirmative answer or approval, and in some cases expresses the speaker’s expectation that their conversational partner will confirm their assumptions. In Danish, on the other hand, TAK is an interjection, a polite phrase expressing gratitude and deriving directly from the verb ‘to thank’. In both languages the word TAK, despite the differences in meaning, looks and sounds the same, and in both cultures – as highlighted by the exhibition’s creators – the word refers to a set of phrases from the world of acceptance and accord, simultaneously revealing its potential as the very opposite: a world of rejection and negation.
The exhibition presents the works of 11 artists from Poland, Denmark, Ukraine, and Belarus, all of whom either voluntarily or involuntary live and create ‘between’ cultures and societal norms. The title of the VLP exhibition, the rhythmic repetition of TAK, points out the duality that is at its heart, in which the presented objects, bodies, and persons function within the realm of ambivalence, transition, negotiation: TAK and TAK.
The space of the exhibition, usually the site of Bartek ‘Arobal’ Kociemba and Magda Buczek’s studio, located in Copenhagen’s Amager district, is an important context for the works shown here, and defines their poetics. Vi Lever På Polsk is a self-appointed guerilla gallery – a space ‘living in sin’ outside the norm, something that has grown out of a desire for artistic and cultural exchange outside of the mainstream, institutionalised sphere of Danish art. VLP’s garage-like premises are aesthetically and intellectually subversive in comparison. The studio-gallery pop-up is located on the artistic margins of the city’s map, in the gentrifying district-island that until the 1970s was used as a sewage dumping ground.
Thus VLP is part of the Other, an alien place, a new place, at the same time a place built from the desire for closeness and authenticity, from the Slavic notion of hospitality, building something that is intimate, homely, even ‘hygge’. The motif of home, underscored by the very method of entry to VLP, which involves either the backdoor or a window, is also meaningful for the TAK TAK exhibition for another reason. In their presented works, the artists look at home as a reference point for a sense of belonging and safety, noting the duality of its role: home-as-prison and home-as-loss.
During the planning stage of the exhibition, the artists didn’t know that Russia’s escalation of aggression against Ukraine would affect the topicality of the themes they chose to explore. The war highlighted the collapse of the fraught political and social order, which – despite its corruption and flaws – was for many of us, especially in Eastern Europe, an important reference point. Violence and its related effects of alienation, exile, as well as the related questions of identity, both individual and collective, take on primal, incredibly Real meanings. Conflict, especially in such a Manichean version, confronts us with the impossibility of approval, negotiation and consent, putting to the test the titular purpose of the TAK TAK exhibition.
text by Alicja Peszkowska
TAK TAK is the second show of the gallery. These words function both in Danish and Polish language. In Danish, they mean “thank you” and express gratitude or politeness whereas in Polish the meaning for “tak” is simple “yes” and “this way”.
The show focuses on the overlapping meanings of these two contexts: humbleness, amenity, acceptance, gratefulness, consent, and validation but also their opposites: rejection, abuse, disapproval, misbehavior.
All of them are reactions that represent different positions of human and social exchange and mark the balance of power. When disrupted, the inbalance brings aberrations of geopolitical, social and personal sphere.
It is the attempt to investigate the above positions from diverse artistic perspectives, confront and find them in dialogue. After all, TAK TAK signals communication could be a part of an overheard conversation
in at least two languages.
Vi lever på polsk, Magda Buczek & Bartek Arobal Kociemba, 11.11-25.11, co curated by Alicja Peszkowska