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Helena Bohle-Szacka. Diffusion

Centralne Muzeum Włókiennictwa w Łodzi
October 21,2021 - March 20,2022

October 21 March 20

“Helena Bohle-Szacka. Diffusion” is a multidisciplinary exhibition and research project, of which the starting point is the biography and work of an artist, fashion designer, graphic artist, philanthropist and curator associated with Białystok, Łódź, Warsaw and Berlin. Helena Bohle-Szacka (1928-2011) was a Pole with German-Jewish roots and, during the war, a prisoner of the concentration camps in Ravensbrück and Helmbrechts.

In the 20s of the twenty-first century, the demons of the past known from the times of terror strike back. We can sense it especially intensively in Belarus. On the other hand, a pro-freedom revolution is going on. Movements such as #metoo, Black Lives Matter, Arab Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ people, and the rebellious society of Belarus are changing part of the world while hitting the wall. Hatred is growing stronger, so we need the voices of the victims of Nazi terror to be heard. Their stories can turn into a warning, yet we want to express this warning in a new way – by incorporating fashion and contemporary art, statements of creators representing various groups and communities.

Shortly after World War II, Helena Bohle-Szacka studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, formerly the State Higher School of Fine Arts, where she later lectured, among others, fashion theory. Her professor and mentor was Władysław Strzemiński, an icon of avant-garde art and a promoter of combining it with fashion, applied arts and industrial products. Bohle-Szacka was also a legend of the social and artistic life that broke out in Łódź immediately after 1945 and, as an artist, she contributed to the impressive post-war clothing industry in Łódź. In the 1960s, she worked as the artistic director of the huge Telimena fashion house in Łódź, and later also in the Warsaw-based Leda. She designed hats and minimalist dresses inspired by neoplasticism. In fashion, she also promoted op-art and futurism. She was the first in Poland artist whose show took place behind the Iron Curtain – in 1965 in West Berlin. She also created phenomenal logos for Polish companies and was an outstanding fashion illustrator and valued Łódź-based journalist.

After moving to West Berlin, where she settled in 1968, she lectured at the Lette Verein Fashion and Graphics Department, designed fashion and books, and supported refugees. In Germany, she also worked as an art curator. She created an enclave for artists, intellectuals from Germany and Central and Eastern Europe.

The “Diffusion” exhibition will be built on the cornerstones of the archives concerning the life and work of Helena Bohle-Szacka, which are kept at the Sleńdziński Gallery in Białystok. The collections will be interpreted by artists, including: Zuza Golińska, whose installation will also be the stage set of the exhibition space, the Romani artist Krzysztof Gil, the creator of avant-garde music videos and fashion films Luke Jascza, the creator of objects and digital art Sebulec, the Belarusian activist and performer Jana Shostak and the fashion designer Kamil Wesołowski. Each and every one of them will base their work on the biography and work of Helena Bohle-Szacka, which will become an excuse to talk about terror and freedom, as well as national identity, friendship, fashion and memory.

The exhibition at the Central Museum of Textiles in Łódź is being created in cooperation with the Sleńdziński Gallery in Białystok with the support of the Berlin-based Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft foundation.

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