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WOJCIECH GILEWICZ / Thanks to Us, the World Is Better

Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art
Centre for Creative Activities in Ustka
/ ul. Zaruskiego 1a

Discipline / sculpture, installation

Period of stay / March – April 2023
Project title / Ustka 2023

Artist residency – Ustka 2023
1.03 – 30.04.2023

Curator
Weronika Teplicka

workshop
/ dedicated to seniors

20 – 21.03. 2023

workshop
/ for primary students

28 – 29.03. 2023

opening

Centre for Creative Activities in Ustka

20.04.2023 / 6 p.m.

exhibition
Thanks to Us, the World Is Better

21 – 27.04.2023

Painting projects, exhibitions and the Instagram account @walewska8studio become a way for me to address themes related to waste and methods of enhancing its value. The negative connotations associated with waste manifest themselves already at the level of terminology itself. The search for and acceptance of what is discarded may be a universal practice that transcends ecological themes. During my residency, I juxtaposed “waste” with “luxury”. The economy of luxury (consumption, excess and fashion) driven by society is on the one hand responsible for the huge overproduction (the packaging of the products we buy alone accounts for 10-25% of the waste we produce), on the other hand, according to its logic, waste has the potential to become a luxury and collector’s item. The recent revival of ceramics from Mirostowice, the furniture design from the 1960s-70s and other items salvaged from garbage by a younger generation of sustainability-driven vintage afficionados is a well-known phenomenon in Poland. During my residency, I worked in the ceramics studio. While learning about this medium in practice, I tried to find a common denominator between the noble and demanding technology of ceramics and the experimentation and my personal fascination with waste.  I used the slogan used by the Municipal Management Company in Ustka: “Thanks to us, the world is better” [Dzięki nam świat jest lepszy], which appears on the garbage trucks serving the city as the title of my exhibition. (Wojciech Gilewicz)

 

Wojciech Gilewicz / Thanks to Us, the World Is Better

Wojciech Gilewicz began the project “Thanks to us the world is better” by searching for and collecting primitive human gestures left in the urban space of Ustka like graffiti, tags and throw-ins. He memorized them by documenting and identifying the styles of individual authors. He also looked out for spontaneous and simple drawing motifs on the facades of buildings as traces of human presence, especially those embarrassing and inherent to peripheral urban fragments like garbage dumps and dumpsters.

Understanding modern mechanisms striving for sustainable development, the artist treats waste as raw materials and potential matter for creating new forms. Having no influence on reducing their overproduction, he uses them in his works as inspiration, but also as material. Being a creator, he becomes one of the links on the road to transforming material reality and putting it into permanent secondary circulation.

Wojciech Gilewicz’s activities during the artist residency are a continuation of the “Trash Walks / Trash Walks” project. The artist recorded the streets of New York, observing the interactions between the accumulated bags and boxes of trash, and the garbage truck workers or people seeing the potential in them. Segregating and collecting individual items, they seem to build installations out of them layering sizable and overflowing constructions.

In Ustka, trash is most visible on the beach, as if it were on a sheet of white paper. Single plastic objects washed out by the sea become symbols of changing trends and habits. The artist brings them out and combines them with ceramic forms extending their journey and engaging them in a further process of existence. He selects individual gestures from photographs of local street art and shows their representations on manufactured ceramic objects. She builds vessels by referring to issues familiar with art history: instead of genre scenes as on Greek vases, she decorates them with bas-reliefs of everyday objects made by workshop participants. Drawings on paper made in ink become pages from a calendar, pages from a calendar become a base for keeping notes.

In the works of Wojciech Gilewicz, movement and change within a few repetitive gestures are constantly discernible. The artist brings his works outside the context of the gallery, presenting them in urban space. The works of art become situations in which they occurred in a specific environment. The artist does not treat the gallery space as a “white cube” prepared for the sterile presentation of the works made. He creates a peculiar environment by bringing together things found in the gallery space with manufactured objects. The title of the project alludes to the advertising slogan of the Ustka Zakład Gospodarki Komunalnej “Thanks to us, the world is better”, where the artist began collecting the first observations related to the project. /Weronika Teplicka/

Wojciech Gilewicz

(@wojciech.gilewicz) is a painter, photographer and video maker. His latest film Trash Walks made in New York, premiered on his solo show in Biała Gallery in Lublin in 2022, is a kind of walk through the city with garbage of all sorts in the background, where themes such as trash diving, no-waste culture, circular economy and freeganism are explored in a rather free narrative with the help of the film protagonists. In his projects, Gilewicz appears on both sides of the camera adhering to the principles of self-reliant economics aka. DIY. From 2017 to 2021, the artist co-ran Beach64retreat by the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway, Queens, New York, a grassroots, independent and free of charge initiative for creative individuals from various disciplines as his response to the increasing precarization in the sectors of arts and culture. The artist is a co-founder of the artist collective Other Society [Inne Towarzystwo], operating in Warsaw since 2022.

Photos/ Krzysztof Tomasik

“Artistic residency – Ustka 2023”
The project partner is the PZU Foundation