Freedom is not an abstract concept, but rather a square where we meet, negotiating the boundaries of our dependent autonomy. It is a vast area of many truths, for everyone likes having their own truth, and rules set by one party often make it impossible for the other to move. The area of the square is indispensable in ensuring movement and change, with every move requiring negotiation. Its shape cannot be determined in advance, and every move is possible, on condition that it results from caring about your and our common space. Freedom has its boundaries in your discomfort zone and matters only if you have a place there.
Our common space is divided by a wall, yet not necessarily made of concrete, nor the hauntology of the market, bureaucracy, command, ban and order. The wall is a command, a boundary imposed from above, a monologue, a concrete screen which echoes arguments. The wall has become a fact, an element of everyday life, as trite a statement as violence. This year, a wall will be constructed in Plac Wolności. The wall, as a radical space for negotiating freedom, as an attempt to deal with an unacceptable fact. Around the wall, in front of it, behind it and within it, stories will be collected, conversations and interactions initiated, in order to break the cruelty of the authorities disguised as safety, with the voice or actions of specific people, to oppose the narrative of large-format ideas.
The stories of migrants in the form of sound installations will be built into the wall. By means of a human microphone, we will listen to these stories, such as the one about life during the fall of the Berlin Wall, also about the so-called boat migration in the 1970s from Vietnam to Europe, or the account of the resistance movement in Belarus. These stories affirm nomadic attitudes, their historical non-obvious character, susceptibility to injury, their strength in helplessness. The voices of the migrating bodies, just like cracks in the concrete banality of the wall, will crash down on its foundations.
We will try to cross the wall with dialogue, which will not be easy as it will be a dialogue between persons whose professional relations and personal convictions prevent everyday interactions. In Experiment Dialogue, confrontations based on stereotypes will be undermined or reinforced in the processes of negotiations – here the common space will be shared by a priest and an artist, by an Islamic community and non-heteronormative persons.
The wall will become a board – a place for negotiations in drawings, a visual conversation initiated by professional graphic artists. Their drawings, comic strips and stickers will be a point of departure for the inhabitants of Poznań and the Festival guests, sketching stories that will inevitably interact and create a polyphony of opposition, consent and mediation.
Plac Wolności will be a lab, where the closeness and distance created by the wall are tested. Every city is full of places where the community engages in dialogue. Thus, we will take two steps into that which is on both sides of the wall, to check what is happening in our local grounds. In some of Poznań's vacant buildings, audiences will come across the issue of migrant acclimatization, and/or its failure. We will look at a few inconspicuous (battle) territories and along with artists and inhabitants re-negotiate their functions, ownership rights or aesthetics. We will look for the so-called safer spaces. We will also take a respite from the difficult art of negotiation in the form of escapist pleasures: macro-journeys and micro-escapes into the city.
The purpose of this year’s Generator Malta is to understand the conflict, most clearly visualized by the wall, so while negotiations usually end with a wall, we will try to start with it. In building a wall on Plac Wolności we wish to further understand why walls are even constructed, in order to demolish them as soon as possible.
Zofia nierodzińska, Joanna Pańczak, Agnieszka Różyńska