The creation of collaborative situations, processes and actions underpins Alicja Rogalska’s artistic practice. She often works with people who live in precarious economic and political contexts, activists and researchers: migrant workers, people who have been deprived of their citizenship, caregivers, street musicians, asylum seekers who have trained as lawyers, young farmers, popular singing groups or feminists and queer activists. Temporary collectives emerge from these interactions, which are formed on the basis of a common life situation, class, political convictions or commitment to social change. The videos, images and objects created through the collective processes focus on moments of ability to act, rebellion and solidarity. The works question the logic of capitalism and try to create a space for the imagination of other, more just possibilities.
In her texts on the concept of presentist democracy, Isabell Lorey writes that subjectivation has the “potential of socially transformative empowerment” – not as the deliberate political action of an autonomous subject, but in the practices and moments of the constituent power of the manifold many. “With the aim of questioning the usual understanding of immediacy and presence as the negation of political representation, the undesirable legacy of Hegel’s thought, she uses Benjamin’s idea of the present to validate anything that contributes to the emergence of new political subjectivities. She distances herself from the concepts of linearity and progress and writes: “The current democracy is breaking through liberal-democratic times and spaces. It is becoming a new form of democracy in which many are able to have a “good life”. The current democracy does not live on a postponed promise for the future. It is already practiced in reality, in the present time of struggles. ”For precarious people, the connection to the past is broken and the future cannot be projected, so:“ You have to be able to dare to start over and become in the To affirm the present. The practices of doing, thinking, and feeling never just carry on the past; they are neither routine nor habit. ”By initiating collective actions, Alicja Rogalska harnesses the potential of art to capture and expand us in the present moment, and manages to help her collaborators re-establish themselves as subjects within a certain collective perspective to constitute. In a certain way, an artistic project creates a network of solidarity that can take much longer than the project itself. The sensual layering of the works of art helps to express the emotional landscape that the subjects contain, their specific individual “ground” and consolidate. The collective effort of an artistic project creates a different landscape – a horizon, an opening, a rift – that makes it possible to go beyond the legal, economic or social status quo.
Alicja Rogalska is a Polish-born interdisciplinary artist who lives in London and Berlin and works internationally. Rogalska graduated with an MA in Cultural Studies from Warsaw University and an MFA in Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College, where she is currently a PhD student in the arts department. Recently she presented her work in the Kunsthalle Bratislava (2021), the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, 2020-2021), the OFF Biennale (Budapest, 2020-2021) and the Tabakalera (San Sebastian, 2020). Rogalska is currently Artist in Residence at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Essex University (2019-2021) and a scholarship holder of the DAAD Artists in Berlin Program 2020.
The exhibition, curated by Aneta Rostkowska, is Rogalska’s first solo exhibition in Germany and brings together works of art that were created between 2011 and 2021. It is embedded in an immersive, landscape-like exhibition design by Mateusz Okoński and is accompanied by a rich public program, including a public space campaign, an artist talk, a guided tour, a reading, a lecture on socially committed art and a wellness day for Cologne city activists. The exhibition is funded by the Berlin artist program of the DAAD and takes place as part of “beuys 2021: 100 years of joseph beuys”.
Quotes: Isabell Lorey, “Presentist Democracy: The Now-Time of Struggles”, in: Andreas Oberprantacher, Andrei Siclodi (Ed.), Subjectivation in Political Theory and Contemporary Practice, Palgrave Macmillian London South Yarra Sydney 2016, p. 152, 160 and Isabell Lorey, Presentist Democracy. Reconceptualizing the Present, in: Quinn Latimer, Adam Szymczyk (Eds.), documenta 14. Munich: Reader, Prestel 2017, p. 185.