Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Explores the Social Potential of Art Making

Polish Pavilion in Venice | © Barbara Kaja Kaniewska
Polish Pavilion in Venice | © Barbara Kaja Kaniewska

Artist Sharon Lockhart represents Poland at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with a multifaceted project, creating a dialogue between young women living in the Youth Socio-Therapy Center in Rudzienko and the work of Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish pedagogue and early advocate for children’s rights.

Every two years, Venice becomes the epicentre of the contemporary art world as artists from all across the globe display their works at the Biennale. The 57th edition will run from May to November, featuring 30 pavilions. This year, the Polish pavilion, curated by Barbara Piwowarska and commissioned by the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, features work by an American artist Sharon Lockhart.

Little Review Exhibition at the Polish Pavilion | © Bartosz Gorka

Her project, “Little Review”, is a conceptual and visual translation of a titular newspaper created by Janusz Korczak. Mały Przegląd (Little Review) was a weekly supplement to popular Jewish daily Nasz Przegląd (Our Review) published for 13 years, until World War II. It featured articles written by child correspondents covering typical newspaper sections like politics, science, sports and culture. The paper was the embodiment of Korczak’s philosophy of treating children with respect and seeing parenthood as a process based on partnership, it was a philosophy which was seen as revolutionary at the time.

Little Review Magazines | © Bartosz Gorka

Lockhart’s project incorporates translations of old issues of the paper as well as a series of generative workshops conducted in Warsaw and new artwork, including a film and a photo series depicting teenage girls as they discover the back issues of Mały Przegląd.

“Little Review” expands on the artist’s existing relations with the young women of the Youth Socio-Therapy Center in Rudzienko and celebrates and amplifies their individual stories and shared experiences. “The young women engaged directly with the archive of Mały Przegląd and the National Library of Poland, discovering links between the past and present,” Lockhart said. “They zealously responded to the newspaper created by Korczak and the timeless validation that children are people and their voices matter.”

Little Review Exhibition at the Polish Pavilion | © Bartosz Gorka

“Sharon Lockhart refers to the history of the life and work of Janusz Korczak – physician, educator, writer, journalist and social activist. But she does not concentrate on the dramatic aspect of his biography (Korczak died at the Treblinka extermination camp alongside his charges from the orphanage he was running),” said Hanna Wróblewska, commissioner of the Polish Pavilion and director of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art. “The main aim of her project is to recall the extraordinary quality of Korczak’s pedagogical approach and his teaching method and present it to the worldwide audience. Sharon Lockhart refers to Korczak’s methods, yet with the use of her owns means of expression.”

The Polish Pavilion will be open at the Giardini from May 13 to November 26, 2017.

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