Kuba Bąkowski, „Head East”

MIEJSCA has so far been a series of minimalist artistic actions realized in public space and having its starting point in the meeting of the artist/artist and the curator in the space for which the site-specific installation was created.

Previous editions took place in: the rooms of an old boiler house, the hall of the Rifle Factory, on the site of a former crematorium urn cemetery and in a somewhat forgotten department store. Maciek Chodziński and Paweł Kulczyński, Marcin Zawicki and Lasy, Julita Wójcik and Marcin Dymiter as well as Honorata Martin and Krzysztof „Arszyn” Topolski dealt in their works with tangible spaces – their architecture and history. Space provided them with a context as an important point of reference for the works they created. The fifth edition of SITES starts from the situation which continues in the zone of the state of emergency introduced at the beginning of September in the border strip with Belarus – in 115 towns of Podlasie and 68 towns of Lubelskie Voivodeship. Kuba Bąkowski, invited to participate in the project, is an artist and activist who has not yet combined these two themes in his work.

In relation to border areas, the name of the cycle could be given the prefix „not-„. The concept of „non-place of memory” (fr. non-lieux de mémoire) describes locations that have witnessed violence and suffering but have not been commemorated through common memorial practices – there are no monuments or plaques. The non-place of presentation of Kuba Bąkowski’s installation is his own car, which the artist uses to travel along the humanitarian crisis zone on the Polish-Belarusian border – at first taking action on his own, and then joining organized relief efforts.

The project entitled „Head East” consists of the remains of a temporary refugee camp. Bąkowski transfers them to his car as a gesture of witnessing. At the border, his off-road vehicle comes in handy during aid operations for refugees wandering in the woods. Parked in the central part of the Main Town, near St Mary’s Basilica, with contents that might bring to mind the scenery of a Christmas crib, it is an urban artistic intervention that is intended to provoke reflection on the fate of those who are denied a place here.

Where the forest ends and the village does not yet begin, there is something, seemingly nothing. Fields and side roads, paths and ditches, copses and meadows, clearances and shadows. Hideouts and traps. Like nothing, like something, but nothing in particular.
(„There Are Things Left After People”, Bartosz Rumieńczyk, Krytyka Polityczna)

Translated with (free version)