Dark Side of Zachęta

Zachęta Art

Zachęta Art

How did belief in progress, hygiene and the scientific approach strengthen the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century? These questions are considered at the Zachęta gallery in Warsaw, where a new exhibition, “Progress and Hygiene”, has just opened. The artworks presented there, which include paintings, installations, films and photographs, explore the complex and troubling relations between modernity and violence. The exhibition attempts to depict the pitfalls of progress, tracing how striving for scientific and social advancement underpinned and reinforced totalitarian states. The interplay between progress and violence is presented in the visual interpretation of contemporary Polish and foreign artists. They also show how they visualise violence at work nowadays, our tacit acceptance of and acquiescence to it, and even dressing it up in the rhetoric of humanism and ecology. The exhibition can be contemplated as a visual essay presenting some well-known images of the 20th and 21st centuries from a novel perspective. It seeks connections between the notion of modernity and such themes as genetic engineering, eugenics, social engineering, national identity, the problem of the ‘other’, exclusion and even cosmetic surgery. Visitors must set in motion their own train of associations, drawing on their own imagination and memories. A major difficulty of the exhibition and simultaneously its greatest merit is that its narration runs along two parallel tracks. Firstly, there is the path of documents and archives which need to be read as such. Secondly, there is the artistic path which calls for a different mode of perception because even if art might gain some semblance of a document, it is not one. The exhibition, which can be seen until 15 February 2015, provides food for thought also through its unconventional juxtapositions of the items on display.
wyborcza.pl

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