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Solo show: Grzegorz Klaman - Lech Wałęsa’s Workplace (over)

1 May 2010 until 12 September 2010
  Grzegorz Klaman - Lech Wałęsa’s Workplace
Photo courtesy Grzegorz Klaman Wyspa Institute of Art

Wyspa Institute of Art
ul. Doki 1 building #145 B
80-958 Gdansk
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Lech Wałęsa’s Workplace
Grzegorz Klaman
Wyspa Institute of Art

The grounds of Gdańsk Shipyard

Building no. 86 B

Grzegorz Klaman’s project, entitled “Lech Wałęsa’s Work-place” is constructed on the tension between the need to experience “authenticity”, which is ensured by the tradition of a museum in situ, and the strategy of “commemoration”. A tourist visiting Gdańsk Shipyard and the “Roads to Freedom” exhibition will look in vain for places directly connected with the person of Lech Wałęsa. To the places where he worked, to traces of his existence as an ordinary worker-electrician, there is no access. What is interesting for us is Wałęsa in the situation between becoming the leader of the striking shipyard workers and Wałęsa at the height of his fame; the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the President of Poland. About the great Wałęsa we know decidedly more, about his ordinary worker’s environment not much. The project entitled “Lech Wałęsa’s Workplace” aims to document, through an artistic gesture, the place-space-surroundings-objects where Lech Wałęsa worked. This is a kind of artistic activity which transfers into the area of reflection the ordinariness-banality of reality. As the Flemish critic, Dieter Roelstraete, writes in his monograph in preparation about Klaman, “Here already we come across the central concerns, tightly strung together, of this particular ‘memorialist’ strand within Klaman’s practice as a whole: the easily manipulated notions of certitude and authenticity or veracity, for instance (especially when entwined with notions of personal aura, empowerment and autonomy). or the uneasy dialectic of remembering and forgetting and its ambiguous relationship to the minefield of recent political history. What interests Klaman in the figure of Wałęsa is obviously not so much the man himself or even the actual weight of his contribution to the ‘changes’ – bracketing this notion already suffices to beg the question of how much has actually changed – but the symbolic ‘Wałęsa’ as a site of historiographic contestation, as a work station (no pun intended!) from which the recounting and rewriting of political history can be controlled.” Within the framework of the “Dockwatchers” exhibition (2005), organised by the Wyspa Art Institute, there occurred a three-day performance created by Grzegorz Klaman with the participation of a double of Lech Wałęsa in his old workplace. The uncommonly lively reception by and reaction of the public confirm the necessity of making this place accessible to the wider public.

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