TWO QUESTIONS FOR DIANA LELONEK

June 21, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

When normal life became increasingly shattered due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we wanted to stay in touch with our artists and keep communicating with them and about them. That's the reason bürobasel launched the "Two Questions"-series, asking artists two straight-forward questions. We have asked many artists all over the world already, Mark Dion, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Matthias Dornfeld, Arnold Helbling and Ding Yi. This will be the last and final part of this "Two Question"-series and we talk to Diana Lelonek, artist and political activist from Warsaw. Bürobasel showed Diana in Basel last autumn in a solo show. Diana Lelonek has also been resident at the Atelier Mondial in Basel last year and will be "non-physical" resident at LAGO MIO in Lugano this summer. 

1. Where are you?

Only recently, I left Warsaw for the first time since the beginning of March. I am currently at a friend’s house in the countryside and I finally feel that the stress and tension associated with the current situation are starting to fade away.

2. What are you currently working on?

I spent lockdown in small apartment which I rent in the center of Warsaw. I started to squat a little garden which I found next to our apartment building. It is a private area so it was possible to go there even during lockdown -when staying in parks and even in forests was illegal. I decided to start growing some plants and flowers there. I think this garden helped me survive this difficult time of lockdown.

 

During the lock down when I was staying in my apartment I did some projects. In my opinion the most interesting work which I've done is connected to the current political situation. On 15 April, during the lockdown and in the middle of pandemic, Polish government decided to have a vote on introducing a complete abortion ban. Normally, every time when they try to push this horrible law through the parliament, thousands of people go out in the streets to protest against it. But this time, during lockdown, any kind of protest is illegal. Regardless, women found some legal loopholes and tried to protest anyway. For example, protesting in cars, or while waiting in a long queue to the shop next to parliament with placards, etc.

 

For me, the most important thing during demonstrations is shouting together, but it was not possible while gathering is banned. That is why I decided to invite women to collaborate online, so that our shouts could resound together anyway. I received about one hundred recordings of women, men, and children chanting the sentence: “Fight the virus, not women” [“Walczcie z wirusem a nie z kobietami”] and a few other slogans that we usually shout at protests outside the parliament.

 

Together with my friend, the artist Edka Jarząb, we edited a track from the assembled recordings. In this way, a recording of a demonstration that never took place in a physical form was created. On the day of the parliament vote, the recording of protesters shouting was played from windows and balconies, from cars, on the way to shop. I also went with the speaker next to the parliament building. And thanks to that we could all shout together and our voice was heard. I think that such “speaker protest” can be an effective tool for protesting when gathering is prohibited. Now the „speaker protest” is a part of the online exhibition „Solidarity and agency”.

Currently I'm working on the next show, which was postponed from April and will open at the end of June. I'm going to make a field research in Białystok, so it will be first time from march when I'm going to different city and I'm very happy because that. I am also happy that my solo show „Buona Fortuna” at the Fundazione Pastificio Cerere in Rome is open again after 3 months of lockdown in Italy. I have a strange feeling when I think about this show which talks about catastrophe, our arrogant approach to this planet, series of works "Zoe-Therapy" where bacterias have taken revange on the human dominancy... and finally the unexpected real virus which decided to close the show for 3 months... when we discussed the title with curator Kuba Gawkowski few weeks before opening, important for us was this irony of "Buona Fortuna" but also the hope which is visible in the exhibition. I feel that this virus is our last call for change. We can't miss it.

Me next to the Polish Parliament - I was alone but with around hundred women’s voices screaming from the speaker. Two policmen are going to stop me.

Protest from home

Protest from home

Diana Lelonek

Gardening outside of my flat

From the garden

„Buona Fortuna” at the Fundazione Pastificio Cerere in Rome

„Buona Fortuna” at the Fundazione Pastificio Cerere in Rome

„Buona Fortuna” at the Fundazione Pastificio Cerere in Rome

bürobasel is a project space in Basel run by ShanghART and Waldburger Wouters

St. Johanns-Vorstadt 46, 4056 Basel, www.buerobasel.com

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