War aijentlich ain scheenes Schiff Po prawdże to piękny sztatek beł

In the exhibition Po prawdże to piękny sztatek beł | War aijentlich ain scheenes Schiff contemporary artists from Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden present their reflections on probably the deadliest event in the history of the Baltic Sea, which took place during the months preceding the end of the World War II, when German refugees from East Prussian ports like Memel (Klaipeda), Königsberg (Kaliningrad) and Gotenhafen (Gdynia) were evacuated and transported west. This action was named “operation Hannibal”. Several of those refugee boats never made it. It is estimated that 40 000 people - mostly civilians, children and women, died during the months when the ships were air-raided or torpedoed and sunken.

One point of departure for this exhibition is the novel by Günter Grass, Im Krebsgang, which is based on the sinking of the ship called Wilhelm Gustloff, which was torpedoed by a Soviet Submarine at the end of the World War II (on 30th January, 1945), a couple of hours after leaving Gotenhafen (Gdynia). Approximately 9000 people died, most of them civilians, women and children, after the captain of the submarine S-13, Alexander Marinesko, had given the order to fire the torpedoes. The catastrophe of the Wilhelm Gustloff is the deadliest sea tragedy known in history. In his novel, Grass gives a German context to the sinking, and marks its place in German collective memory. Several other ships were torpedoed during the same period, among them: the Steuben (torpedoed on 10th Feb, 1945, 3-4000 dead), the Goya (torpedoed on 16th April 1945, approximately 7000 dead), and the Cap Arcona (air-raided on 3rd May, 1945, approximately 5000 dead).

The actual events around the Wilhelm Gustloff were in many ways made known and documented, not only in Günter Grass’s novel, but also in other books and documentaries. The story has also been made into a film. Nevertheless, some historical facts and circumstances are still unclear. Today, despite the high number of casualties, the Wilhelm Gustloff and other similar shipwrecks lie quietly at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, to some degree forgotten, but at the same time being both physical and symbolic reminders of the most fatal period in the history of the Baltic Sea.

Too a large extent, these ship catastrophes are still not very well-known to the world, or even to the countries around the Baltic Sea. This is probably connected with the complex historical background that builds the symbolic meaning of the shipwrecks. Despite the fact that it will soon be sixty years since the ships were sunk, the subject is still quite complicated to discuss. One of the reasons why it is not too much elaborated on, might be connected with the period when the ships were sunken - meaning the end of the World War II, when millions of people had already lost their lives, while the causalities on board the ship were mostly of German nationality, and, obviously, in the clear cut war propaganda Germans could not be defined as victims.

In Sweden for example, especially among younger generations, very few have heard of those ships. One of the reasons why the problem is neglected, could be that the ships remind the Swedes too much about their position during the World War II, a position that is still today subject to a collective amnesia. Whereas, in Poland, one way is interpret the Wilhelm Gustloff catastrophe as an outside event, with which Poland had nothing to do. However, on the other hand, it is no secret that a lot of Polish people supported the ethnic cleansing of Germans in East Prussia at that time. In Kaliningrad / Russia, there is a huge memorial to honor Captain Alexander Marinesko (died in 1963), who, in addition, was officially proclaimed a Hero of the Soviet Union as late as in 1990. To state that he was responsible for the decision that led to the death of thousands of civilians, including children, is still very controversial.

The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff and the other ships has different meanings and implications in countries like Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden, which to a large extend are not possible to combine. Perhaps it would be better to leave the wrecks under the sea surface, instead of bringing them out, and thus reminding the world about the war events. On the other hand, the wrecks will linger there, just like myths in the collective memory of the past, as a hidden huge historical memento mori. The question is, if we do not create the possibility to discuss with our neighbors the historical events in which 40 000 people lost their lives, how can we proceed to form a peaceful future? In fact, these wrecks, demand to be discussed, in order to be set free from the historical burden.

For the exhibition Po prawdże to piękny sztatek beł | War aijentlich ain scheenes Schiff we invited artists from Poland, Germany, Russia and Sweden, who have been working with the topic of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Their works give some reflections from an artistic point of view on the events and the symbolic meanings of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This theme, being the starting point of the exhibition, could be viewed as very narrow and specified. However, in a broader context, the exhibition elaborates on one of the most significant periods in the history of the Baltic Sea, and therefore opens the new perspectives for the common future.

Martin Schibli


Magnus Petersson (SE), Jonas Dahm (SE), Jörg Herold (DE), Günter Grass (DE), Evgieni Umanski (RU), Anna Steller (PL), Olo Walicki (PL), Huber Czerepok (PL)

Accompanying events:


16:00 meeting with artists participating in the exhibition, devoted to the collective memory in art, moderated by the exhibition curator - Martin Schibli (meeting will be held in English)

18:00 bus trip to the opening of the exhibition Trans-Russian Art Project „9000 km” in Centre for Art Education Laznia 2 in Nowy Port


Gdańsk: 25th January - 16th March 2014 | Centrum Edukacji Artystycznej Łaźnia 2, ul. Strajku Dokerów 5

Opening: 24th January 2014, 6 pm

Curator: Evgeny Umansky | Coordinators: Agnieszka Wołodźko, Ignas Kazakevicius

Financial support of the project:

European Union, Lithuania-Poland-Russia ENPI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013

More information: www.laznia.pl

19:30 opening of the exhibition in 4G, with the performance by Anna Steller “Unrelenting beauty of disaster” to the live music by Olo Walicki. This performance was first shown at the opening of the international exhibition “Telling the Baltic” in the Blekinge County Museum in Karlskrona (Sweden).


17.00 "The human story of the Wilhelm Gustloff" - meeting with Claes-Göran Wetterholm, a Swedish expert specializing in shipwrecks at the bottom of the Baltic Sea


18:00 MEETINGS AND MICROUTOPIAS / EDITION I |Łaźnia CCA, ul. Jaskółcza 1

“Ladonia” | Lars Vilks, Martin Schibli | Curator: Agnieszka Wołodźko

Meetings and Microutopias is a new artistic and research project conducted by Łaźnia CCA which is based on research on participation art in Scandinavian countries between 1990 and 2010.

The first edition of the project is dedicated to Ladonia, which is the name of a microstate proclaimed in 1996 by a notoriously unapologetic Swedish artist Lars Vilkas. During the meeting, Ladonia will be described by the artist Lars Vilks, who currently serves as the microstate’s Secretary of State and the Swedish curator Martin Schibli, the Minister of Curators, Semaphores and Swiss Army Methods of Ladonia. More information: www.laznia.pl


19:30 closing of the exhibition

- a theatre performance based on the motifs from Günter Grass’s book “Crabwalk” adapted by Paweł Huelle, played by the actors from the Witold Gombrowicz City Theatre in Gdynia: Szymon Sędrowski as Dawid, Maciej Wizner as Konrad

- presentation of the exhibition catalogue

Po prawdże to piękny sztatek beł | War aijentlich ain scheenes Schiff*

Vernissage: Friday, 24 January 2014, 7.30 p.m.

Exhibition: 25 January 2013 - 31 March 2014

Curator: Martin Schibli, Iwona Bigos

Venue: Günter Grass Gallery in Gdansk, Szeroka 34/35, 36, 37, Grobla I 1/2

Opening hours: Tue-Wed 11:00 - 17:00, Thu-Sun 11:00 - 19:00


* the title of the exhibition was inspired by a quotation from Guneter Grass's book Crabwalk

Biographical notes:

Magnus Petersson

Magnus Petersson is educated at Art Academy of Valand, Gothenburg, Sweden 1999-2004. Before that he studied at different preparing art-school in Sweden and Finland. He lives and works in Halltorp at the Swedish south east coast. Since his master exam in 2004, he has exhibited in several countries abroad; Russia, Germany, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Slovenia and USA. Petersson has frequently participated in the wreck exploring expeditions with Deep Sea Production for almost ten years. Thanks to this collaboration with Carl Douglas at Deep Sea Production and Marin Mätteknik he has been able to create several art projects with side scan-sonar technique.

Jonas Dahm

Jonas was born and raised on the west coast of Sweden and has always been fascinated by the sea. He started diving at the age of 10, together with his father who was a commercial diver and a devoted wreck diver. That formed a natural basis for his interest in wreck diving and naval history.

He did his military service in the navy as a mine clearance diver and that was also when he took up underwater photography. Since then, throughout his professional life as a firefighter, he has kept up his interest in wreck diving and photography, especially interested in the stories of ships lost at sea.

In the late nineties he got to know Carl Douglas (Deepsea Productions) and Ola Oskarsson (MMT, a marine survey company) and from then on they have been working closely together. The cooperation has resulted in the finding of more than a hundred shipwrecks in the Baltic. Some of them are historically important like the Steuben, Svärdet, Prinz Adalbert and the British WW1 submarine E18. It has also resulted in the TV documentary Vrakletarna (2007) and the book Shipwrecks of the Baltic (Björn Hagberg, Jonas Dahm, Carl Douglas, 2008).

Since a while back Jonas is working as a full time photographer and diver for Deepsea Productions/MMT. His main focus is to gather more material for another book together with Carl Douglas. Their aim is to create another book, now concentrating more on pictures and the history seen through the camera lens.

Jörg Herold

born in Leipzig (1965), educated as a stucco maker (1986-88), studied painting at Hochschule für Graphik und Buchkunst Leipzig and Hochschule Berlin-Weißensee (1987-1990); winner of numerous awards and scholarships (eg. Germany, Japan), participated in many group exhibitions (eg. Germany, South Korea, China, Switzerland, Belgium), had solo exhibitions in Berlin, Leipzig, Lübeck, Magdeburg, Kabul, Crimea, and many more. Lives and works in Leipzig and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Günter Grass

Günter Wilhelm Grass, born October 16, 1927 in Gdansk, is a German sculptor and graphic designer best known for his writings, which brought him a Nobel Prize in literature in 1999. He holds the title Honoris Causa of the University of Gdansk (for his outstanding literary work and his contribution to the Polish-German reconciliation process) and of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. He is a Citizen of Honour of Gdansk. His novel “Im Krebsgang” published in 2002, depicting the tragedy of the ship Wilhelm Gustloff, was the inspiration for the exhibition "Po prawdże to piękny sztatek beł".

Evgeny Umansky

(b. 1961)

Artist, curator. Range of artistic interests - investigation and critique of contemporary society and dealing with various social contexts. In his creative work the artist uses the existing aesthetic developments and artistic reflections of anonymous authors (graffiti and street art, as well as mass media and advertising technologies) and then interprets the source material in his own way. A participant in Russian and international art exhibitions and projects, including: "Davaj! Davaj!", Berlin, Germany - Vienna, Austria (2002); "The Russian Roulette", Wiesbaden, Germany (2008); "Monsters - People, Murders, Power Machines", Dresden, Germany (2008); 1-st Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art, Yekaterinburg, Russia (2010); “Enclave”, Warsaw, Poland - Kaliningrad, Russia (2011); “Russia Next Door”, Olsztyn, Poland (2011), Minsk, Belarus (2013); 5th and 6th International Art Symposium “Alanica”, Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russia (2012, 2013);“Made in Kaliningrad”, Klaipeda, Lithuania (2013).

"Monument", video installation, 2014


Тrofim Popov - photo

Sergey Sorokin - programming

His Majesty Coincidence has always played an important role throughout the history. The Gustloff - Marinesko story is based on human tragedy and Pyrrhic victory.

The video installation consists of photos of a monument set up in Kaliningrad dedicated to the hero of the Soviet Union - Alexander Marinesko. The programming was effected based on the theory of random numbers to form an endless number of random coincidences.

Anna Steller

is a dancer, a performer and a choreographer. She has been performing onstage since 1993 and also dancing with the Dada von Bzdulow Theatre. In 2003 her cooperation with the Patrz mi na usta Theatre began. She has been a host performer the Theatre in honour of W. Gombrowicz in Gdynia and in the Teatr Wybrzeże. Anna Steller cooperates with CSW Laznia in Gdansk. Together with Magda Jedra she launched the group Good Girl Killer in 2005.

Anna Steller is a highly active artist involved in numerous festivals and projects verging on the borderline between dance and performance art.

Olo Walicki

(born 1974) is a bass player, composer and producer. He plays improvised music and composes works for theatre performances and films. He gets involved in alternative arts circles both in Warsaw and Tricity. He works with dance theatre groups on various performances and projects. He debuted at the age of 16 in the avant-garde music group Blue Pilot, together with Jerzy Mazzol. He was involved in a trend known as yass stage in cooperation with its creators: Tymon Tymanski and Mikołaj Trzaska. For many years he played in Leszek Możdżer’s groups and also performed and recorded music with the Zbigniew Namysłowski Quartet. Walicki co-created the free-jazz group Łoskot and another one -Szwagierkolaska, which is a fusion of pop and alternative music. He has recorded dozens of albums in varying styles. For over ten years his own projects such as Metalla Pretiosa (together with Leszek Możdżer) and Olo Walicki Kaszebe have been issued by his own publishing house. His last record: THE SAINTBOX (with Gaba Kulka) is a multimedia project. Right now he is involved in numerous artistic activities with recognized artists: Andrzej Seweryn, Gaba Kulka, Ingmar Villqist, Maci Moretti, Wojtek Mazolewskim and the Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre and the Polish Radio: Channel I and III.


performance: Anna Steller, Olo Walicki

The premiere of the performance took place at 9.06.2012 for the opening ceremony of "Telling the Baltic" - the international exhibition at the Blekinge County Museum, Karlskrona, Sweden

My performance for the opening Ceremony of the Telling The Baltic exhibition was inspired by the sinking of the MS Wilhelm Gustloff in the Baltic sea in 1945. I use there a coffin-shaped aquarium-like object. The cost of this was approx. 5,200 pln. The aquarium is filled with the sea water.

My costumes - in vintage style - resemble the common clothes worn in the 1940s. I take them off one by one as the show continues until the final when my only clothing is a chemise. In this simple clothing I enter the aquarium and freeze. The cost of the clothes was approx. 1,500 The performance is accompanied by a marching band consisting of six members. They perform Spanish resurrection songs adverting to funeral music in a symbolic way.

Hubert Czerepok

Hubert Czerepok, born in Slubice 1973 is a graduate of Kernar’s School in Zakopane and of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan where he attended the studios of Izabela Gustowska and Jan Berdyszak. The art duet Magisters, which he launched together with Zbyszek Rogalski, has produced numerous absurdist photos and films. Czerepok’s cooperation with Sebastian Mendez resulted in devising a strategic game called Survivors of The White Cube: a simulation of the world of art. He also launched the death-metal group Children of Sodom together with Steve Rushton.

Czerepok’s artistic expression includes drawings, paintings, the creation of objects and installations, videos, animations and found footage films. He develops various multimedia projects and interventions in the public space. One of his most frequently tackled topics is the relationship between fiction and the historical truth, though rather than focusing on primary facts themselves, he directs his interest at the ways in which they mutate and transform formally or semantically.

For many years the artist has been running art workshops: at CWS Laznia in Gdansk, the Arsenal Gallery in Bialystok, and the Political Critique Club in Cieszyn to name a few. There he deals with problems like the articulation of freedom or the deconstruction of stereotypes.

Claes-Göran Wetterholm,

Born 1952, B.A: (M.A.)

Author and maritime historian

My interest in the Titanic began in 1960 when I watched a television documentary from BBC on the Swedish television.

My research initially focused on the ship but gradually I have taken a greater interest in the personal history of the people on the Titanic and particularily the third class passengers. This has led to various books, publications, TV- and radio documentaries. I have worked with various Titanic exhibition projects since 1986 and from 1996 as a full time Titanic historian. From 1996 - 2000 I worked with Voyager Titanic Exhibition, GmbH in Hamburg, Zürich and München.

I am currently working with a touring exhibition which began in Spain and has toured various Spanish and Portugese cities and 2008-2009 in Berlin. From May 2009 the exhibition was placed in Stockholm together with the National Maritime Museum of Sweden and between May and September 2013 it is shown in the building Värmekyrkan in Norrköping. I have lectured in many countries on the Titanic and emigration subject, not only Sweden but also around Scandinavia, in Great Britain, Germany, Canada and the United State and on cruise liners. The latest of those lectures took place onthe M/S Balmoral on the special Titanic memorial Cruise that left from Southampton and for New York in April 2012.

Together with RMS Titanic, Inc., I have acted as historian on four expeditions to the Titanic: 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998. The most extensive recovery expedition so far was in 1994 when we spent around four weeks over the wreck. I have not done a diving myself to the wreck but I have had the privilege to see and investigate thousands of objects as they were raised.

I am cofounder and president of the Scandinavian Titanic Society since 2001.


Martin Schibli

curator, critic and lecturer based in Sweden. Between 2006 and 2102, as a curator and director of exhibitions, he transformed the Kalmar konstmuseum into one of the top institutions in Sweden. During the last decade he curated about 80 exhibitions in eleven countries, including Sweden, Russia, Germany, Lithuania and Poland, organised at museums, art galleries and biennials. Last year Kalmar konstmuseum was also an official partner to the Berlin Biennale. His exhibitions include individual displays of works by Artur Żmijewski, Marina Naprushkina and Georg Baselitz. He is one of the main curators for the upcoming Shiryaevo Biennale in Russia, with other exhibition projects planned in Russia, China and Chile. In Sweden he is also known for the book How to become a contemporary artist in three days, a survival guide to the art world. Besides curating, he also lectures regularly at universities and art schools.

Szymon Sędrowski

Szymon Sędrowski has been an actor of the Witold Gombrowicz City Theatre in Gdynie since September 1, 2011. Sędrowski is a graduate of the Acting Department of the Leon Schiller PWSFTviT in Łódź. He made his debut with the role of Gumowicz in the film “Syzyfowe prace” and the TV series of the same title. Between 2001 and 2011 he performed in the Juliusz Osterwa Theatre in Lublin. In 2013 he received the Award of the President of Gdynia for his part of Dawid - a character of the “Crabwalk” theatre performance directed by Krzysztof Babicki.

Maciej Wizner

Maciej Wizner is a graduate of the Acting Department of the Ludwik Solski State Drama School in Cracow. He performed in the Teatr Polski in Wrocław, the Teatr Ludowy in Cracow, the Teatr Slaski in Katowice and for the last two years he has been continuing his career in the City Theatre in honour of W. Gombrowicz in Gdynia. Wizner has received the Award of the President of Gdynia for his role in “Idąc rakiem” together with Dorota Lulka and Szymon Sędrowski.