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Untitled (Solidarność)

Piotr Uklański Polish

Not on view

In 2007 Uklański marshalled three thousand soldiers from eleven battalions of the Polish Army to create a “living photograph” in the Gdańsk shipyard, where the first non-Communist labor union in a Soviet-bloc country was formed. The Solidarity movement was at the forefront of sparking Poland’s political revolution. It was thus possible for Uklan´ski to immigrate to the United States in 1990, the year that shipyard worker Lech Walesa was elected president of Poland.
Uklański’s massing of multitudes into a form that can be read only from the air recalls the patriotic “living photographs” made during World War I by Arthur Mole and John Thomas. Rather than being a purely affirmative recollection of the Solidarity movement, however, Uklański’s diptych incorporates the dissolution of the logo as the individual participants leave their spots—a fitting metaphor for capitalism’s almost tidal ability to disperse any stirrings of collective organization with the lure of individual fulfillment.
For this presentation in the Great Hall, Uklański reproduced his original photographic diptych as a pair of banners akin to flags or signs carried at political rallies. In this way, he presents the Met’s diverse audiences, who congregate temporarily, with an image of their own potential unity or abandonment.

Untitled (Solidarność), Piotr Uklański (Polish, born Warsaw, 1968), Inkjet prints on poplin banners

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