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Logo - Galeria Arsenał

Life in the forest

From 15 October 2011 to 13 November 2011
Opening: 18:00
Curator: Rael Artel
Place: Galeria Arsenał, ul. A. Mickiewicza 2, Białystok
Artists: Jakup Ferri (Priština, Kosovo / Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Laura Garbštienė (Vilnius, Lithuania), Paweł Grześ (Gródek, Polska), Tina Gverović (Dubrovnik, Croatia / London, UK) & Siniša Ilić (Belgrade, Serbia) & Ben Cain (Dubrovnik, Croatia / London, UK), Tanja Muravskaja (Tallinn, Estonia), Kaspars Podnieks (Drusti, Latvia), R.E.P. group (Kyiv, Ukraine), Silja Saarepuu & Villu Plink (Tallinn, Estonia), Sener Özmen (Diyarbakir, Turkey)

"Life in the Forest" is an international exhibition of contemporary art that discusses the positions and conditions of contemporary art professionals, who live and work in peripheral areas of the country, continent or cultural context. Contemporary art practices and exhibition making is usually associated with the metropolitan context which besides intellectually vivid and socially exciting environment also provides all necessary infrastructure for artistic production. Contemporary artistic life-styles depend on art institutions and their audiences as well as network of art schools, galleries and collectors. But what happens outside of the "developed" world metropolises? What do the artists who live outside of these centers think and produce? How do they follow and relate to the recent developments in the field of contemporary art? How do they position themselves and which attitudes articulate? Cannot the whole region of former Eastern Europe been seen as one big "forest" with a few expanses inside?


The thematic focus of the "Life in the Forest" show has two starting points: firstly it departs from the very location of its venue – Bialystok is a city located not only in the periphery of Poland, but also in the edge of European Union close to the border of Belarus. It is a kind of border zone, where different political, cultural, economic and religious margins overlap, and to where it is rather difficult to travel. Another point of departure is my own precarious life-style in an ultimate end of Europe, in the forests of Estonia. Living and working in these kind of geographically and culturally remote areas evokes a questions: what does it mean to be an artist in the context like Bialystok? Or Klaipeda? Or Porto? Or Sicily? This exhibition could have easily  been also called as "Life in the Desert" or "Life in the Mountains" referring to the hardly-accessible territories not only geographically, but also mentally. My aim is not just to gather the art works produced in different provincial contexts, but to reflect critically to the phenomenon of artists living and working in the marginal regions of the (art) world or in the locations far from cities or civilization in general. In "Life in the Forest", the keywords like (self-)isolation, survival strategies, (self-)colonialism, alternative working methods and life styles, cultural translation processes, and mediated communication will be under discussion.


The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual (Polish and English) catalogue/exhibition guide edited by Rael Artel, designed by Jaan Evart and published by the Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok. Texts by Rael Artel, Ben Cain & Tina Gverović & Siniša Ilić, Kiwa, Joanna Sokolowska, Katrina Teivane. 64 pages.


"Life in the Forest" is the third step in the traveling cycle Your Periphery Is My Centre, a series of contemporary art presentations in various formats that examine ambivalent aspects of the life in former Eastern Europe and its neighboring regions. The first exhibition in project series "Lost in Transition" took place in summer 2011 in Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia in Tallinn. The second show 'After Socialist Statues" was presented in autumn at KIM? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga (Latvia).

Rael Artel


Co-financed from the funds of the ministry of Culture and National Heritage

Media Patron: O.pl Polski Portal Kultury


on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 12 p.m.

we cordially invite to the event accompanying the exhibition, panel discussion


Your Periphery is My Centre. Life in the forest

discussion on living and working in the middle of nowhere



Rael Artel (independent curator; curator of the exhibition Life in the forest, Tallin)

Laura Garbštienė (artist, Vilnius)

Siniša Ilić (artist, Belgrade)

Michał Jachuła (curator, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok)

Kamil Julian (curator, Warsaw)

Volodymyr Kuznetsov (artist, a member of REP group, Kiev)

Silja Saarepuu & Villu Plink (artists, Tallin)

Joanna Sokołowska (curator, Museum of Art, Lodz)

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