Three Plagues

Three Plagues, Labirynt Gallery, Lublin

“We Are Coming for You”, video, 2’09”

Dorota Podlaska deals primarily with figurative painting, but also with object, installation, actions and interventions in public space. She is an author of photographic documentation and a book designer. At the centre of her interest there is an individual and its emotions. Her work is characterised by narrative. The artist often refers to personal experiences. “We Are Coming for You” is a series of paintings made using oil technique on canvas. They have been transferred to digital media and presented in the form of animations. The theme of the cycle is growing wave of social unrest, riots, clashes between demonstrators and the police, scenes of street fights that are widely presented in violence-sensitive media. Messages about conflicts accompany us at every step, they become our everyday life. For a growing number of people, this is not only media noise, but an increasingly visible and noticeable threat to everyday life. At the root of the protests there are powerful feelings – anger, hatred, contempt. They are original, powerful forces. Anger expressed jointly, the fight for a common cause, the intensity of bodily involvement and emotions create social bonds. Although they fight for different, often contradictory ideas, rebels are always confident that they are right. Hatred speech goes into deeds, the world seems to master irrational madness. The great things of this world are becoming private. Paintings from “We Are Coming for You” series are a commentary on the contemporary political situation in the world, an expression of general unrest and an attempt to tame personal fear.

The exhibition draws its title from Imperium – a book by Ryszard Kapuściński published in 1993. In the book the author warns: “Three plagues, three contagions, threaten the world. The first is the plague of nationalism. The second is the plague of racism. The third is the plague of religious fundamentalism. All three share one trait, a common denominator – an aggressive, all-powerful, total irrationality”.

Works presented at the exhibition refer directly to the “plagues” described in the quotation or to other dangers such as fascism that is nowadays reappearing. All mentioned problems have a complex character and constitute a wide research field for numerous theoreticians and scholars. However, for a growing number of people, this is not just a theory, but an increasingly visible and perceived threat to everyday life. These phenomena are intensifying to a greater or lesser extent, not only in Poland and Europe, but also in many other places in the world. Concepts such as nation, race, religion are more frequently used by populist and neo-fascist organisations. They are not just slogans any more, they are becoming the foundation of political parties’ programmes. The plagues mentioned in the title in the context of the exhibition are treated as a starting point, in fact, they are one of many disasters threatening the world. Their common denominator is hatred, intolerance, and politics of searching for the enemy and unrestrained human expansiveness. The works presented at the exhibition were created at different times and in different contexts, however, they are all the result of anxiety, discord, criticism of reality and people who are still “ready for violence”.

fragment of curatorial text
Magdalena Linkowska, Agnieszka Cieślak