25 January 2024

A Polish woman, a German woman, a Ukrainian woman are looking for the truth about home

On July 12, 2023, the “Truth about Home” workshops conducted by the renowned Italian-German artistic duo VestAndPage began at the Masovian Museum in Płock. A dozen or so people from all over Europe, in the era of war in Ukraine and mass migrations, are looking together for the answer to the question – where exactly is our home.

They will present the answer to us on July 19, during the opening of the International Festival of Performing Arts at the Masovian Museum in Płock.

Since 2006, the German artist Verena Stenke and the Venice-born artist and writer Andrea Pagnes have been collaborating as VestAndPage – a duo of performers, film makers, and curators of artistic events. They operated in the ice of Antarctica, at the foot of the Himalayas, in the endless Tierra del Fuego, in military enclaves and in prehistoric caves.

At the Masovian Museum in Płock, VestAndPage conducts workshops devoted to the idea of ​​home. – We are meeting during a difficult time of war in Ukraine, in Poland, a country that has become a new home for people seeking shelter here, says Andrea Pagnes. – Several dozen people from Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, through migration into our interior, through the analysis of our mutual relationships, we want to answer the question whether real home is where we are or where we are going? Is home a place, my body, a memory, a feeling, a hearth? Is home something you take for granted, or is it work? How is it that we come from a certain country?

The result of the work will be a performance that – like nearly 50 other performances – will be on display at the International Festival of Performing Arts at the Masovian Museum in Płock. The festival will start on July 19 and end on July 22. Its program included almost 50 artists from 17 countries, performances, concerts, installations, interactive activities, activities using artificial intelligence and augmented reality, film screenings, and concerts.

The festival curator, Małgorzata Sady, invited both world-famous performers with many years of achievements, as well as interesting artists starting their careers, to participate in the event. These will include: Marilyn Arsem (USA), Maya Gordon (Israel/Netherlands/Poland), Nigel Rolfe (Great Britain/Ireland), Alastair MacLennan (Northern Ireland/Scotland), Joanna Rajkowska (Poland/Great Britain). Maya Gordon, a Polish-Israeli-Dutch artist, will come to Płock, for example, with a 3.5-meter teapot, which is a metaphor for her life. In the historic cathedral in Płock, Canadian composer and pianist John Kameel Farah will perform Bach and electronic music on organ and synthesizers. Sylwia Hanff from Poland will dance the Japanese butoh dance in the play “Wars. The holy blood of the Dreamers.”

– We also invited a group of artists from Ukraine to the festival, thanks to the support of the National Cultural Center, whose presence is extremely important in the perspective of the ongoing war. To a large extent, their actions will bear the stigma of modern history. Ingrid Blekstad, director of Kunstbanken, proposed the participation of five artists from Norway, and thanks to the Pro Helvetia Foundation we will host artists from Switzerland, said Sady. – For four days, from morning to night, the festival will be present in the spaces of the Masovian Museum in Płock and at the same time in the city space, on its streets. And one of the events will even go to the cathedral. Each of the invited artists will present us with their own story, each different and told in their own language, often combining various fields of art.

Admission to the festival is free.

The festival is carried out as part of the “Stories. The world is more complicated than our truths about it” carried out by the Masovian Museum in Płock in partnership with the Center for Contemporary Art in Hamar, Norway.

“Stories” are organized under the spiritual patronage of Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, avant-garde artists associated with Płock, and financed by the EEA Funds and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

– The quote about the complicated world comes from Stefan’s story – adds Sady. – This is an extremely wise and very timely statement, especially in our difficult times. This is an appeal to all of us to avoid being stuck in established thought paths and one-dimensional perception of the world, and to open up to other points of view. Also those contained in other people’s stories, their world and sensitivity. Create and take care of freedom of thought.

Leonard Sobieraj, director of the Masovian Museum in Płock, adds that the implementation of a large, international project was possible thanks to the changes that have taken place in the Płock museum over the last dozen or so years. – We have changed our headquarters, our offer includes new permanent exhibitions, including the very popular Art Deco exhibition, and new branches – he mentions. Thanks to the support of the Masovian Voivodeship Government, in 2021 we acquired a tenement house at ul. Kolegialna 6 with a modern temporary exhibition hall, conference room, educational and workshop spaces. We can implement large projects, such as “Stories” prepared in partnership with a center in Norway. Its program includes shows, exhibitions, workshops, discussions and meetings. All this is intended to bring our audience into contact with Norwegian culture, and more broadly, with European culture. We are happy to reach this level, but we also feel great responsibility.

Photo Przemysław Sztupecki