From Berlin to Gdańsk

From Berlin to Gdańsk (on the 245th anniversary of Daniel Chodowiecki’s journey)

Place: Daniel Chodowiecki and Günter Grass House, Sieroca 6
Dates: 6.07.2019 - 14.09.2019 (opening times by telephone: +48 693 813 082)
6.07.2019, at: 1 pm
Artists: Tomasz Kopcewicz, Agnieszka Piasecka, Barbara Piórkowska, Maciej Salamon, Małgorzata Żerwe
Factual consultant: Anna Schultz (AdK), Magdalena Izabella Sacha (UG)
Curator: Marta Wróblewska
Coordinator: Katarzyna Kucz-Chmielecka
Graphic design: Patrycja Orzechowska
Exhibition design: Patrycja Orzechowska, Agnieszka Jelnicka
Translations: Agnieszka Andrzejewska (ANG), Peter Seraphim (DE)
Organizer: Daniel Chodowiecki and Günter Grass House / Gdańsk City Gallery

Project in co-operation with Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

Special thanks to the following Berlin institutions: Französischer Dom, Druckwerkstatt im Kulturwerk des bbk berlin GmbH, Knoblauchhaus|Biedermeier-Museum| Stadtmuseum Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett | Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

What makes us set out on a journey? What encourages us to cover many kilometers long routes? A need to have a rest, curiosity about the unknown, desire to experience something new, yearning? How does travelling influence our life and what remains of it afterwards?

An eighteenth-century man of Daniel Chodowiecki’s era used to go on a so-called Grand Tour. This kind of tour included major monuments making up European cultural heritage. The main goals of the traveler was to learn and to understand. However, the goal of the journey Chodowiecki made between 1 June and 18 August 1773 was not education. He was driven more by personal emotions, longing for his family, especially his mother, left in Gdańsk.

What do we know about Chodowiecki? When he was in his teens, he left Gdańsk and went to look for work in Berlin. Thanks to his diligence and skills he gained enormous popularity there and ultimately got a prestigious job of the head of the Prussian Academy of Arts, which he reformed so innovatively and successfully that his ideas still function in its structure. Due to his mother’s descent he had close links with Huguenots both in Gdańsk and in Berlin. The works he left prove that he was a man of his epoch – following conventions, but at the same time critical, open, but with a measure of distance, witty, but somewhat moralizing, and always soaking up news from the fields of art and literature, which were getting increasingly available to the Enlightenment people.

What is the artistic connection of Chodowiecki to Gdańsk? His major “Gdańsk” work is undoubtedly the amazing diary of his journey from Berlin to Gdańsk, where Chodowiecki describes step by step, in words and pictures, the way he traveled on horseback on the eve of the second partition of Poland, in order to see his family.

At the time of exceptionally intense mobility, due to well-developed tourism, migrations for different reasons, and also thanks to lack of borders, the development of international co-operation and intensive exchange of thought and experience, we set out on a journey in the footsteps of Daniel Chodowiecki. In its course we discovered places connected with him, his work, his time, and saw how they function in today’s reality. We found the towns and villages where he stopped during his journey on horseback from Berlin towards Gdańsk which took as many as 10 days in 1773. We compared his impressions and comments which he noted down while travelling across Prussia, to contemporary Poland and Germany. Drawing inspiration from Chodowiecki’s original pictures and notes, we created our own current version of a travelogue, using both traditional and modern means of artistic expression. Recording our own observations, we tried to bridge the gap between the present and the past, put the 18th-century man’s filter on contemporary reality, in an attempt to get to know him better. This experience was an attempt to join epochs despite the layers of geographical, political and cultural changes which had built up through the years, but also to experience the very act of following the route which was important enough for Chodowiecki to keep a record of, a record which still seems to be the major work connecting him with Gdańsk.

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Exhibition opening:

fot. Bogna Kociumbas