How to Make a Monument Public (Dis)appear


Due to the introduction of new restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gdańsk City Gallery is closed on 7-29 November 2020.

Dates: 2.10.2020-21.11.2020

Venue: Günter Grass Gallery, Szeroka 37
Artists: Daniel Malone
Curator: Stanisław Welbel

The solo exhibition by Daniel Malone is a continuation of a project presented in summer 2018 at the Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 in New York under the title “How to Make a Monument (Dis)appear“. The exhibition was based on a set of questions regarding the legal status, rights and responsibilities of art in public spaces. It focused on contemporary discussions and controversies around public monuments found in the former Communist Block, as well as the debate around the removal of Confederate and other colonialist and racist statues in the US. This perspective was inspired by the wave of protests all over the US, but especially strong in the South, that put the question of how to deal with the problematic memorials in front of a public debate. Moreover the protesters actively removed or toppled down some of the monuments, so the discussion was not an academic one but rather a reaction to the reality on the ground.

Around the same time in Poland a different debate occurred, started by the controversies surrounding the monuments from socialist times. In many cases a lot of structures has been removed and destroyed following the political line of the current conservative, right-wing government.

The debate around monuments is an ongoing process in Poland. Parts of the project were presented in 2019 in the framework of 11th Edition of the Warsaw under Construction Festival under the inspiring title: “Monumentomania”…

The so called „monumentomania” is still digesting the World, and it came back with actually a stronger force then before. The response of the protesters in the US, following the murder of George Floyd in many cases targeted the remaining monuments devoted to the confederates. This critical attitude towards the memorial spread around the world and we could just witness a collapse of many monuments which depicted figures associated with the colonial past. In the same time in Poland the debate around the monuments took a different turn. Some memorials became a space for political activists advocating for equal rights and respect for LGBT people in Poland, as this group was lately targeted by many of high rank Polish politician, government and the church.

It seems that it is a right moment to reflect again on the topic of monuments. Thus the project receives an update, which takes into consideration the events that happened globally in the last two years as well it reflects strongly on the local context. The city of Gdańsk, with its multicultural history becomes an inspiration to reconsider the function of the memorials, our relations to them and their status. The show reacts to recent events in Gdańsk, which are the result of the aggravation of the public debate.

It takes place also in very unusual times, midst the global epidemic crisis. It gives another layer to rethink on how we treat a common space and our position within it. Thus the exhibition will take place also outside the gallery and incorporate a public monument in Gdańsk. The selected memorial, will become an art intervention platform, its story will be appropriated and retold. As maybe this is one of the strategies in dealing with the monuments - telling different stories…

Stanisław Welbel (b. 1982, based in Warsaw) is curator and art historian. Currently works at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Warsaw as a visual art curator. In the years 2009-2019 was working in Zachęta - National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. Welabel had studied art history at Warsaw University and Curatorial Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. In 2012, he took part in The 4th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course in Korea. Presently, he is finishing his PhD thesis at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He took part in curatorial and art residencies in France, Ireland, Israel, Romania and curated several exhibitions both in Poland and internationally: such as “Strike. Käthe Kollowitz, Hito Steyerl, Keren Donde” at Zachęta (2019), “How to Make a Monument (Dis)appear” at Mini Goethe Institute Curatorial Residency Ludlow 38 in New York (2018), “Common Affairs” at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin (2016). He collaborates with CPR | Curatorial Program for Research in the US and contributes for art and design magazines. Since 2018 a member of Polish section of AICA International Association of Art Critics.

Daniel Malone (Born 1970, Greymouth), is an artist currently based in Warsaw, Poland & Berlin, Germany. He has exhibited regularly in Aotearoa/NZ and internationally since 1990, co-founding seminal artist run space, TESTSTRIP. He has a BA in Art History, and a BFA in Intermedia from the University of Auckland, where he taught between 2000-2007, when he left to base himself in Europe. He has represented Aotearoa/NZ in numerous exhibitions including the Sydney, Sao Paolo & Guangzhou biennales, & been included in many other international shows. He has continued to work locally throughout this time, exhibiting in public galleries and with Sue Crockford Gallery and Hopkinson Mossman, & as a recipient of the Waikato Art Award and the McCahon House residency. Recent projects include, Trauma & Revival, CAC, Krakow & BOZAR, Brussels (2017); The Wild West: A History of Wrocław’s Avant-Garde, Ludwig MCA, Budapest & MSU Zagreb (2016-17); Not a Dated Annotation, Laurel Doody, Los Angeles (2017).

Published on the Occasion of the Exhibition CLICK HERE.

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