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Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

May 13, 2017 - November 26, 2017


Organizer: Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

Polish Pavilion Commissioner: Hanna Wróblewska
Deputy Commissioner: Joanna Waśko

exhibition curator: Barbara Piwowarska


Sharon Lockhart (b. 1964) is an American artist living and working in Los Angeles and Poland. Lockhart works with communities to make films and photographs that are both visually compelling and socially engaged through collaborations that unfold over long periods of time. Created with young women from the Youth Sociotherapy Center in Rudzienko, Poland, her project Little Review comprises translations, a new film and series of photographs, as well as educational workshops. Little Review draws its inspiration from the work of Janusz Korczak (1878-1942), the Polish-Jewish educator, orphanage-director, and children’s rights advocate. Similar to Korczak, Lockhart’s goal is to provide a forum for children’s voices — both past and present.

polish pavilon at the Venice Biennale

The eponymous Little Review (Mały Przegląd) was a newspaper written by children and teenagers and published as a weekly supplement to the Jewish daily Our Review (Nasz Przegląd) from 1926 to 1939. Created and originally edited by Korczak, the Little Review gave voice to young people’s opinions on politics and everyday life.

The new photographs in the exhibition — introspective and careful studies — portray two young women from Rudzienko reading the Little Review in the National Library in Warsaw, where the newspaper has been conserved. Framing an encounter across nearly a hundred years of history, the photographs reflect on the gaps, linkages, and subtexts between past and present.

From the archive of 677 issues, the young women chose twenty-nine issues of the Little Review based in part on connections with their own lives and parallels to today’s uncertain times. Their selections from the paper, which remains untranslated and largely unknown, are presented here for the first time in English on a weekly basis for the duration of the Biennale.

Accompanying the texts, a new film by Lockhart suggests a more abstract translation of the Little Review: three acts and a satirical prologue performed by the young women that evoke the resilient and candid spirit of Korczak’s newspaper. Set against a black background that refuses a single context, the scenes are resonant of the history of a diverse group of practices in both the visual and performing arts. Given this space to be seen and heard, the young women, like Korczak’s writers, command performances full of nuance and self-possession.

Since 2014, Lockhart has been conducting workshops with the young women of Rudzienko.

Throughout the Biennale, Lockhart and the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw will continue to organize educational workshops for the young women aimed at empowering their sense of agency, freedom, creativity and modeling possibilities for longer-term support structures with Warsaw institutions.

At the heart of this multilayered project are the subtle and myriad ways in which individual lives and their sociopolitical realities are brought together through an intermingling of past and present. The installation furnished with architectural elements adapted from the National Library in Warsaw, gives palpable form to this density of histories and lives. A collective portrait that focuses, in the here and now, a nearly hundred-year-old call for an empathetic community that cares for every voice.

Sharon Lockhart, Little Review, 2017 (Image: courtesy of the artist and Zachęta—National Gallery of Art)

Sharon Lockhart, Little Review, 2017 (Image: courtesy of the artist and Zachęta—National Gallery of Art)

 Participants of the Little Review project include the young women aged fourteen to eighteen from the Youth Sociotherapy Center in Rudzienko: Weronika Banach, Elżbieta Bugajewska, Agnieszka Chodakowska, Beata Domańska, Patrycja Dominiczak, Zuzanna Dziembakowska, Nadzieja Flinik, Patrycja Głogowska, Aleksandra Grabowska, Zofia Grzywacz, Agnieszka Jamiołkowska, Małgorzata Kowalska, Aleksandra Kowynia, Wiktoria Kruszewska, Natalia Leśniewska, Natalia Mikołajczyk, Alekandra Mojsiejew, Maja Nowakowska, Adrianna Olczak, Patrycja Onochowska, Alicja Pałaszewska, Alicja Pasternak, Angelika Piekacz, Natalia Skoroch, Paulina Suchocka, Karolina Szyc, Natalia Tetych, Wiktoria Tomaszewska, Aleksandra Wiśniewska, Kinga Woźniesińska, Gabriela Zadrożna, Karolina Zembrzuska.


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