15.06 - 29.07.2012: GALICJA, MON AMOUR. FOLLY, FANTASY AND PHANTASM - the 4th part of the project GALICIA. TOPOGRAPHIES OF MYTH
GALICJA, MON AMOUR. FOLLY, FANTASY AND PHANTASM was the 4th part of the project GALICIA. TOPOGRAPHIES OF MYTH*.
Curator Danna Heller about the exhibition:
It is no secret that when the word ‘Galicia’ is whispered in your ear, mixed feelings arise: on the one hand Galicia embodies the sense of open multi-culturalism and non-nationalism during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and spurs a sense of longing for a naive, imaginary space that no longer exists; while on the other hand Galicia recalls the traumatic period of WWII and its disastrous aftermath for the Jews and other communities who were liquidated from the region. As I am a half-Polish (half-Yemenite), Jewish, Israeli curator (who grew up in Texas), this exhibition inhabits several layers of consciousness which are manifested in the works of over a dozen international artists who relate to Galicia and its ‘parent’ the Austro-Hungarian Empire in a relationship that changes from fantasy, folly to zones of phantasmatic senses.
The great ambivalence of the notion of Galicia mentioned above is intensified by the artists who are participating in the exhibition and their complementary positions vis-à-vis this context: some artists currently live in the region (Hungary, Poland, Austria), while others are descendents of families from the area (Czech Republic or those living in Israel), and yet other artists who have no biographical connection (Portugal), but still their works incorporate a fresh point of view on common questions of identity and myth.
Thinking of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a starting point, it is inspiring today to think of notions of monarchs, majestic etiquette, a kingdom which is no longer, and a sense of longing and missing of the empire as an entity, a ‘fatherland’. The idea of Galicia as a sort of alien child to its parent, the Monarch, where a relationship of intimacy, dependence and patronage took place with a major political power – yet this connection was abruptly ended by historical circumstance. Questions of the rise and fall of empires, legacies and historical events lead me to a discussion of the sense of folly with which these events took place and still take place today even if imagined – artistically, culturally, socially, and politically.
The exhibition “Galicia, Mon Amour” attempts at presenting a mise-en-scene of situations that arise from considering the mythical aspects of what was Galicia. From a current point of view, it is also an attempt to dissect the characteristic that brings forth such an international ‘imported’ project in the city of Nowy Sacz, once Galicia, and explore its attitude towards itself today and its past as part of the fabric of this historical region. This attempt is also explored via experimental texts, poems and essays by the contributors to the catalog, who each add to the mosaic of a contemporary point of view into the myth of Galicia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Irony, absurdity, humor and folly evoke a mental reflex that may have the capacity to ‘deal’ with the myth of Galicia in a new direction. This approach may seem in opposition to the severe historical context of the region and the catastrophes that took place in the early 20th century. This is not to annihilate the significant devastation of the historical context, but ratheran attempt to shift the discourse regarding Poles, Jews and minorities of Gypsies, Ruthenians and others that inhabited the region. In the context of myself being a Jewish-Israeli curator, the exhibition may be understood as a variation on the standard western readings of the Polish-Jewish cultural exchange, and a provocation into new ironic channels of thought, twisting the mythical Galicia into a sort of theatrical platform for contemporary exchanges.
* Cykl GALICJA. TOPOGRAFIE MITU realizowany w ramach projektu pn. „Sztuka współczesna narodów dawnej monarchii austrowęgierskiej”. Projekt jest współfinansowany przez Unię Europejską w ramach Małopolskiego Regionalnego Programu Operacyjnego na lata 2007-2013.