Blue Republic, Water Drawings: Tank (still), 2014
Radical Hope
Feb 2 – Mar 16, 2023
Galeria Arsenal
Białystok, Poland

The exhibition draws inspiration from Jonathan Lear’s book Radical Hope. Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. In his foreword to the Polish edition, Piotr Nowak refers to the book as responding to three fundamental questions: “(1) how does one continue living in a world that has lost all meaning; (2) is hope at all possible in such a world; and if yes, (3) what language should be used to express it”. The book’s protagonists, a Nation of Ravens or Crows, in all probability large black birds, have undergone a cultural apocalypse, just like other American indigenous tribes. Their world, their customs, anything they have ever believed and everything that had brought meaning to their lives has – in all actuality – been annihilated over the span of a single generation. “When the buffalo went away, the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not lift them up again. After this, nothing happened.” Uttered by Plenty Coups, the last Chief of the Crow Nation, these words have become a canvas for Radical Hope. Differently to other tribes, the Chief of the Crow Nation decided not to stake out his land, to be later defended come what may. He decided to come to terms with the onsetting, adapt to the new world, survive.

Can we at all compare the current condition of our culture and our European community with the ravage and ruin that befell Native Americans? A sense of disorientation and “the end of time”, of a need to make decisions with regard to something unpredictable and unspecified which is yet to come, seems to be one of our most profound experiences. Following Lear’s intuition: in order to exit our existential impasse, we will require a guide capable of finding new meaning, a new field for manoeuvre within. Can art take on that role? Commenting on reality, are artists the ones anticipating solutions as yet non-existing?

Artists: Kuba Bąkowski, Blue Republic, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Veaceslav Druta, Jakub Gliński, Elżbieta Jabłońska, Tigran Khachatryan, Diana Lelonek, Leszek Lewandowski, Zbigniew Libera, Magdalena Łazarczyk, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Lada Nakonechna, Małgorzata Niedzielko, Dominika Olszowy, Patrycja Orzechowska