International Art Symposium "There Was, There Is and Will Be"

International Art Symposium "There Was, There Is and Will Be"

Text by Alicja Klimczak-Dobrzaniecka

The cult "concept-shape" by Stanisław Dróżdż became - in a slightly changed form - the motto of the International Art Symposium in Morawa near Strzegom in September 2017. The interpretation possibilities of the words of the Hourglass - was, is, will be - are very wide. In contact with the place, its history and the matter in which the artists participating in the project acted, the Dróżdż triad contributed to many considerations in which time and place were the main theme. The palace in Morawa for a moment became a kind of laboratory where art was used to experience struggles with a complicated history, uneasy modernity and an unknown future.

The meeting took the form of an open-air event, so apart from the indispensable meetings, micro-lectures or, in short, building relationships within the artistic environment, it became the background for regular, intensive work, the effect of which was the exhibition inaugurated on September 11. The exhibition space consisted of palace buildings (with a stable), a garden and a park. Palace in Morawa, now the seat of the St. Jadwiga, a hotel, a house, a kindergarten and a tourist place, it is not adapted to the exhibition of art, which definitely worked in a plus. The nature of the entire complex became a challenge for the artists, but the entire exhibition did not take on the character of "guerrilla art in extreme conditions"; the dialogue with the place took on more subtle forms, sometimes even on a non-visual level. The artists chose various corners of the complex as places to present their works: the entrance gate, staircase, corridors, rooms, fireplace, tower, yard, former stable (probably the closest to the place intended for showing art), garden and park thickets.

The geography and history of the place are extremely important issues. The works presented at the exhibition have been strongly established in the context of these two concepts. The city of Strzegom is one of the largest stonework districts in Poland, famous for the extraction and processing of granite. The palace in Morava, located outside the city, is the center of cultural and social events organized by the St. Jadwiga, founded by a social activist, Melitta Sallai. Sallai was born in a palace in Moravia in 1927 as the second daughter of the landowner Hans-Christoph von Wietersheim -Kramst. In 1945, she left the family home with her family, and after nearly fifty years she returned to devote herself to social activities. The woman's life story has come full circle and, in a sense, the past has merged with the future. The palace stands at the intersection of several historical axes: the axis of what was before the war and itself, the axis of the post-war years difficult for property, the axis of a new political order and return to its own, but at the same time, foreign lands, and finally the axis of the present with a newly written chapter in the history of the palace.

The organization of the sculptural symposium in this place is, in a way, a response to its geographical and historical conditions. The organizers established cooperation with local granite producers, thanks to which the artists had access to materials and the possibility of processing them. The very process of selecting, shaping and placing sculptural works in the context of the palace in Moravia has acquired a special meaning in relation to its history, because by its nature stone is a matter strongly reminiscent of the notions of history, duration or inviolability. However, not all works are sculptural works. There are also objects, site-specific installations and paintings. The symposium was organized by the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, and it was sculpture that dominated the projects on which the artists worked for nearly a week. And although the organizers use the term "art symposium", perhaps opening them more to all artistic disciplines or even resigning from divisions into them, this event definitely belongs to the sculptural one. I would like to point out right away that both the entire exhibition and the artists using the non-sculptural medium lose nothing at this point. However, when locating the congress near Strzegom, the Polish capital of granite, it would be a sin of omission to cut yourself off from the sculptural genius loci.

The words "was, is and will be" refer to the duration, passing, new coming, historical past and historical continuation. Considered in the specific context of the palace, they provoke reflection on history, contesting or recalling the original functions of the place, but also reflecting on the passage of time in general. The artists' projects were therefore a response to the nature of the existing space, integrated with it or completely independent of it. There were clear references to the words of Stanisław Dróżdż not only on the semantic or interpretative level, but also on the formal level.

Autorką fotografii jest Alicja Kielan.