the exhibition
gorecki.jpg Ryszard Górecki Polska, F16

PATRIOTISM TOMORROW is a phrase which serves as the title for the recently devised program of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. This slogan has inspired us to create an exhibition of contemporary art, which would ask questions about its implications, as this very phrase touches upon several crucial contemporary problems.

Our lives are stretched between two phantasmic ideas. The first of these is the idea of the future, which fascinates us, and which we envisage basing on scientific prognoses as well as on our individual fantasies and expectations. These visions of the future are often greatly misleading; this was the case with the predictions for the year 2000 (for our generation, this meant the dissolution of a myth connected with the coming of great changes brought about by the coming of the new millennium).

The second phantasmic idea is historical truth. History, as we know, is – similarly – just a model of events. The more we protect historical memory and the feelings of pride and continuity it brings, the more distorted this model becomes. The desire to be reminded only of praiseworthy or otherwise positive moments in history makes us push the less pleasant historical facts outside the area of common memory.

Thus, PATRIOTISM TOMORROW sounds as if it consisted of two question marks. These questions and doubts concern chiefly the observed decline of the national state, which springs from several factors such as globalisation, the increasingly multicultural character of societies and the polarisation of human attitudes increasing together with the level of education, and, finally, the expanding scope of information – or disinformation – available through the media (while, earlier, the fear of the unknown has served as an integrating factor).

Due to the above determinants, the meaning of the term “patriotism” should perhaps drift into the sphere of ideas which are constantly negotiated and renegotiated by society; drift from the sphere of the nation-based state to the sphere of the civil society. Especially if we consider that “patriotism”, understood literally as “love of one’s homeland”, unquestionably belongs also to the sphere of human feelings and involves an emotional dimension – something difficult to systematize or evaluate.

The exhibition serves as an opportunity to attempt a synchronic view at the diverse shades of patriotism across Europe, which together create a net of connections and evolutions of a single term. What we aim to show is the similarities and differences between these varieties of “patriotism” and the fact that the term itself is continuously subject to diverse subversions.

The exhibition aims at showing not only the diversity of attitudes, but also – perhaps more importantly – the impossibility of evaluating various approaches against each other, as they all are deeply rooted in the geopolitical and historical conditions.

Monika Weychert Waluszko

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