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Non-places

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Place:
Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk, Szeroka 34/35-37
Opening: 26th of August, 6.00 P.M.
Exhibition: 26th of August - 30th of October 2016
Artists: Ugo Carmeni (IT), Sylvain Deleu (FR/UK), Anke Illing & Thomas Vossbeck (DE), Michał Szlaga (PL) and a post-workshop exhibition as part of The People's Smart Sculpture EU Project
Curator: Marta Wróblewska

What are Non-places? Do they have any raison d’etre? What is their relation with reference to the surrounding reality? What is their status in social consciousness and in relation to public space?

Each city has such ‘underworlds’ filled with overlapping narratives, images, memories and functions that have built on one another over many years as grain of an aged tree and capture the historical register of a particular place. They are defined by various terms, for example genius loci - this amazing and one of a kind spirit of a place which, although invisible, but strong under the skin and almost metaphysically perceived.

Non-places presented at the exhibition in Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk are spaces that are a little unowned and not clearly defined with reference to both function and status. Speechless, off the map, sometimes desolate, and still resonating with accumulation of meanings connected with stories, identities or past relations. They represent a certain symbolic topography which physically does not exist in its original shape anymore, yet the memory of it produces some utopian visions concerning possible scenarios in the future built upon something what we widely and proudly call our legacy, both the wanted and the unwanted one.

The exhibition includes impressions of an Italian photographer Ugo Carmeni which depict interiors of closed Venetian hospitals, places where time and space intersect and fragments thereof which in themselves become autonomous art objects representing specific aesthetics bordering on abandoned ruin and precious relic. On the other hand, Anke Illing and Thomas Vossbeck enter Silesian mines to furtively look at factories going bankrupt which as a result of worsening management of their assets are becoming abandoned and are dying a slow death. Our ‘non-place’ in Gdańsk is of course the Shipyard, standing at the crossroads of the proud past and the uncertain future. Two photographers present two different visions of this issue. Michał Szlaga has been observing the Shipyard from the perspective of an insider continuously for the past dozen or so years, documenting and exploring its changes and transformations on site. The image of the Shipyard according to Sylvain Deleu presents itself to an outside observer who is only selectively and periodically involved in processes accompanying the transformation of this place, stressing its uniqueness, intriguing beauty and undeniable symbolic dimension. 
In addition, the exhibition is supplemented by the selection of works by participants of photography workshops with Michał Szlaga which took place at the Gdańsk City Gallery in 2016 as a part of the EU project, The People’s Smart Sculpture. The participants took a challenge and took pictures of places connected with the history and the legacy of the Gdańsk Shipyard, a list of which was made by Waldemar Affelt, historical monuments restoration expert. They included i.a. s/s Sołdek coal and ore freighter, the Stutthof Museum in Sztutowo or sculptures on the façade of the Main Building of the Gdańsk University of Technology.

Non-places are spaces suspended within time and function, distant from everyday hustle and bustle yet still bearing traces of past splendour and activity. However, we read such traces only partially, since these places have been largely deformed and fragmented as scattered puzzles that are missing most important pieces that would allow us to uncover the whole. These missing spaces are places to be filled in by creative intervention of artists and interpretation of recipients thanks to whom ‘Non-places’ shall gain a new status of places of full-value.



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The project is organised as part of the European Programme The People’s Smart Sculpture (PS2)