Crossroads Gallery: Chris Niedenthal / Our Poland Today
Girl Power 01.10.2016 © Chris Niedenthal
The Centre for Intercultural Creative Initiatives “Crossroads” is a municipal cultural institution, operating in Lublin since 2008. The Centre’s activity is firmly rooted in the locality of the region, but we inscribe our experiences in a universal perspective, and we try to match global trends with the singular practices of our everyday life.
Our ambition is to undertake bold, risk-bearing initiatives, penetrating unknown territories and cultural “crossroads”. We look at the processes of meeting, dialogue, and confrontation, inspiring attitudes of tolerance and social responsibility.
Driven by the need to define identity and seek freedom, as well as the desire to look at the phenomena connected with social changes, we have established a new exhibition space, “Crossroads Gallery”. The Gallery has been functioning since December last year, both in the Centre’s building and in virtual reality.
Unlike our Open City Festival, which presents art in urban space, in this case, we present the city, with its cultural challenges, in a closed gallery, at the same time opening it to the limitless reality of the Internet.
This allows us to focus on “social art” and civic activity, documenting events that take place before our eyes, examining their cultural resonance, and promoting pro-social attitudes.
With the inaugural exhibition, entitled “Belarus 2020. Trauma and laughter” we presented a true chronicle of the Belarusian revolution, triggered by the fraudulent presidential elections won by Alyaksandr Lukashenko, which led to mass protests by peaceful citizens.
The events in Belarus and the similarities of civic attitudes helped draw attention to the situation in our country. As a result, we decided to present the photographs by Chris Niedenthal, one of the world’s most renowned and recognized photojournalists, commenting on the Polish reality.
Almost four decades have passed since the famous “Apocalypse”, a shot taken by the artist in front of Kino Moskwa in December 1981. He could sit back and work only on his archive of negatives, numbering thousands of frames, making exhibitions, and publishing albums. However, after the election of 2015, there were fewer and fewer “quiet moments” and he again had reasons to go out into the streets.
The works that made it to the final selection presented at the exhibition are a subjective image of Poland in the last five years. Emotional portraits of “ordinary people”, protests in front of the Constitutional Tribunal, the Sejm, the Presidential Palace, in front of the courts, and demonstrations, the 2020 election campaign, women’s marches, and the “Independence Marches”, as well as the pandemic which almost completely dominated our lives.
General shots “from a bird’s eye view” and close-ups of faces, captured in this special moment that all world’s photographers dream about. Gestures expressing anger, determination, joy, irony, stubbornness, and sadness. Demonstrators and policemen. Adults and children. All this is a recap of the history of Poland in recent years, one the viewers can see in the photos presented at the exhibition “Our Poland Today” by Chris Niedenthal.
At the moment, the exhibition will be open for viewing at the Crossroads Gallery from May 7th for the next three months online at www.rozdroza.com, and live, after the lifting of the restrictions. A commentary on the exhibition was provided by Anda Rottenberg, a well-known curator, and critic of contemporary art.
More about the exhibition here.