Three plagues, three contagions, threaten the world. The first is the plague of nationalism. The second is the plague of racism. The third is the plague of religious fundamentalism. All three share one trait, a common denominator – an aggressive, all-powerful, total irrationality – R.Kapuściński, here cited after Galeria Labirynt’s homepage [see below for the link].
This is the inspiration for an exhibition called Three Plagues that I went to see the other day
The pieces presented at the exhibition refer to these plagues but also consider plagues in a more general sense. The exhibition space- located in a large post-industrial hall (once home to another cultural institution, Workshops of Culture / Warsztaty Kultury), is divided into two distinct areas. One features pieces – installations/objects made by young artists born after 4 June 1989 (in Poland the first free elections since 1928). Among other things, the objects refer to refugees, manifestations of civil disobedience as a form of protests. The second room is very dark and features digital pieces by established older artists. They are set up in a circle, referring perhaps to circles of hell. The videos are very interesting; they are both long and short forms. They cover a wide range of perspectives on “the plague”.
Of some note is a video put together from rape scenes found in movies ranging from Hollywood to Bollywood. The author of this installation researched videos in the Afghan Film Institute. She found some cut off footage that was of poor quality and bought them for 4,000 GBP. She wanted to use them to tell an alternative story..but what she got instead were rape clips from various movies. It made her think – was this a threat not to meddle? Was it a request to help tell a story? So she put it together into a thoughtful video. I found out that there was actually a website that collected rape scenes and offered them to people? That’s grim, to put it mildly. The narration in the video considered the implication of what she received instead of what she had asked for.
Another video is an expose of a prime minister on The human Project…a speech covering 40,000 years of human history. Pretty creative as far as I’m concerned and encompassing the idea of humanity as some sort of plague. Another video that drew my attention was a story about a sculpture hidden in bushes in the middle of a busy square. Silent for years, it suddenly begins to sing…at first it draws people together and they are happy..but then the sculpture insists that it wants to ask the residents a question. and they don’t want ay questions. They are afraid. It’s as much about facing difficult things as it is about the limits of art – a very interesting narrative. As always, it makes me think back to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit (it seems that lately Fahrenheit has become some sort of point of reference for me but it is indisputably valid) and how we like to cocoon ourselves. another, shorter video dealt with nature – it made me think of Shakespeare’s witches chanting over ad about things in nature that we might be forgetting about. Yet another video was just an image of a certain wall…with antisemitic inscriptions…and how no one notices it or doesn’t pay attention or doesn’t care. A few other interesting works: a literal take on apocalyptic biblical plague in a black and white video, a reflection. There is also a video featuring a siren and a double personality of sorts speaking about hatred of foreigners, among other things – it is also very evocative.
As far as I’m concerned, the exhibition is well worth seeing if you are in Lublin. It is stark but thoughtful and the videos on display are varied and very interesting. The premise is interesting and I think the works do the theme justice, inviting us to reflect on various forms of plagues of our world. Some of the videos are very long and 3-4 hours will just fly by.
It’s intended as a mobile exhibition – it can be rented.
More information: https://labirynt.com/en/trzy-plagi/