Polana Institute presents “Headquarters"; a type of political fiction aimed at bringing us closer to something that never existed but could have – actively combining feminism, craftsmanship, and radical artistic performance. Polana's exhibition space has been transformed into the imaginative office of the Guild, an association of individuals constructing various structures. The idea is similar to that of The Building Institute, an informal platform also created by Olga Micińska, aiming to emancipate technical knowledge in the field of art and beyond, as well as to support diverse and balanced development within the market of construction work. The Headquarters are curated by Olga Micińska (DAI, 2018) and feature among other practitioners, Samantha McCulloch (DAI, 2019) as well as contributions by Olga herself.

| tag: Warsaw

The Guild has been dedicated to preserving building traditions while simultaneously exploring the boundaries and possibilities of craftsmanship. Its members engage in various manual techniques, including writing and performance practices, to emancipate the knowledges dwelling in their craft. Their approach to labour is based on constant experimentation and effective communication, believing that solutions stem from mutual agreement and shared experiences rather than imposed assumptions.

The Guild's Headquarters houses specialized departments that allow members to continually develop their skills, including Education Department, Industry Department, Shipping Department, Writing Department, Public Relations Department, and Department of Internal and External Affairs. The Guild is now opening its doors to the public, revealing the inclusive and subversive work processes of its members.

The Education Department, headed by Olga Micińska and Harriet Rose Morley, provides technical support and supervision to a group of journeyfemmes working on their own artistic projects. Mathild Clerc-Verhoeven, Cecile Hübner, Chloé Sapelkine, Gersande Schellinx, and Bo Wielders are carrying out their own ideas for extraordinary tools under the mentorship of the department, while also deepening their knowledge of woodworking and metalworking. Together, they have also erected the entrance gate to the Headquarters. In the long run, the Education Department aims to create more equal working conditions in the field of construction work.

Stéphanie Baechler leads the Shipping Department. To an imperfect perfection she has mastered the art of fabricating cargo boxes, which she uses to transport her delicate works. Recently, this pragmatic aspect of her artistic practice has become the main theme of her latest projects, drawing attention to the care required for this type of technical work.

Meanwhile, Paulina Włostowska is in charge of the Industry Department. She manages this branch which is also a kind of embassy of the Department of Colour and Light that she initiated. The artist, taking linen fabrics as her subject, oversees the process of introducing handicrafts into serial production. To achieve this, she collaborates with external manufacturers, including the Żyrardów Linen Mill and the Warsaw screen printing workshop PHU Sitex.

Kitty Maria and Elise Ehry join the Guild as unemployed air hostesses. Their services – which often involve injecting absurdity into concrete situations – are provided in the Public Relations Department. They become public spokespersons for the organization, amplifying the voices of physical laborers. In their performances, instead of increasing the rhythmic sound of tools, they make graceful noise.

Writers Samantha McCulloch and Gersande Schellinx run the Department of Writing and the archives of the Guild, which document the process of building according to their own discretion, analyzing the experimental strategies of construction. Continuously searching for the most appropriate words, this literary branch strives to document the essence of the Guild's work.

Located in close proximity to the Department of Writing is the Department of Internal and External Affairs, headed by Anna Siekierska. This department contributes those threads that escape the typical notions of productivity, but are undoubtedly necessary for members of the organization to function properly. All drifts, digressions, and manifestations of internal life are materialized in objects that help interested parties better understand their own position in the surrounding world.

Stéphanie Baechler, Mathild Clerc-Verhoeven, Samantha McCulloch, Elise Ehry, Kitty Maria van Ekeren, Cecile Hübner, Olga Micińska, Harriet Rose Morley, Chloé Sapelkine, Gersande Schellinx, Anna Siekierska, Bo Wielders, Paulina Włostowska

Curator: Olga Micińska

Opening: April 14th, 6 - 9 p.m.
Exhibition is open until April 29th 
Mon - Sat., 12 - 7 p.m.

Polana Institute combines functions of an art institution, gallery, educational and research faculty.