London-based artist duo Al/ice/ex Donaghy & Aleksandra Wojt have completed a 1-month residency at Halo Kultura in Poland. They reflected and researched the current precarious and sensitive situation of the Polish LGBTQ+ community, continuing their queer methodology and passion for political relevance of contemporary art practice.
State-sanctioned policies of exclusion towards LGBTQ+ communities manifest themselves in widespread actions of physical and verbal hate by loyal nationalist supporters as well as the everyday citizen. The propaganda of the popular right-leaning movement seamlessly passes the blame for the fall of Polish values and power between immigrants and
The polarisation of LGBTQ+ Poles uses unfounded accusations to rile up fear in the bubbling nationalist ideal, with some regions legally declaring themselves as LGBTQ+ free zones due to:
FEAR that they will infect you.
FEAR that they will teach your children to masturbate.
FEAR that they are paedophiles.
FEAR that they cannot change a part on a motorcycle engine.
The residency culminated in a multifaceted exhibition highlighting themes and narratives around sexuality, censorship and social discrimination. They took steps to encounter the reality of LGBTQ+ communities living in Poland under the pressing right-wing exclusionary and divisive political climate. Through discourse with queer communities and collaborations with
Polish and international artists, they engaged in the initial process of revealing the on-the-ground reality of coping with perpetual resistance. The project aimed to repurpose techniques of hate into empowerment and to reveal the hardship and valuable action being taken by the Polish LGBTQ+ community right now.
They created and curated 2 bodies of work, an installation with a performance and an exhibition showcasing photography and film. They aim to use this as a springboard to develop their research further afield in Poland and in other countries affected by similar issues, bringing in new voices, opinions and spaces to exhibit and highlight the emotions and lives of the community.
INSTALLATION & PERFORMANCE
The installation performance piece reinterpreted and broke down the weapons (cobblestones, rocks, urine, eggs and oil) used against members of pride marches by the often largely outnumbering anti protesters. They offered these objects as a critical gesture, questioning the disappearance of material evidence of violent prejudice into the severely flawed Polish legislation around hate crimes. Voices of local LGBTQ+ people collected through interviews and compacted into a distorted sound composition, emphasise the circumstances of existence within a challenging environment whilst also offering personal insights into the ever-growing LGBTQ+ communities resistance and advocacy.
The piece delves into issues surrounding identity and defence, through a juxtaposition of human and animal techniques of seclusion. The rendered material provides a complex and skewed narrative around empowerment through freedom of choice whilst simultaneously desiring safety and the right to preserve one’s anonymity. Issues around the right to decide whether one should be open or closed with their sexuality, gender or image in public spaces repeatedly came up in discussions and research. Safe LGBTQ+ spaces like clubs, groups or social spaces are incredibly important for expression and education. However, the question that arose was how we can advocate and embody this sense of support and safety in areas where people cannot access them.
Artists & Curators: Al/ice/ex Donaghy & Aleksandra Wojt
Residency: Halo Kultura
Photography Art Direction: Gabriella Gasparini
Photography: Dorota Oza Karecka
Videography: Marcin Adamski
Model: Paulina Pawlowska
Documentation: Maciej Opara & Marta Koniarka