The “In My Youth Unsated” exhibition is a jour­ney in time and space, a trip to the East, taken to the rhythm of music. Its lead charac­ters are young people – from dif­ferent places and generations – who are unwit­ting yet active agents of history, ves­sels of artistic and social change.

Each of the three artists represents a dif­ferent generation and a dif­ferent attitude toward the com­munity they accompany. Michał Wasążnik(b. 1956) is a photographer. A pioneer and the major figure in documen­ting the Polish punk scene of the 1980s, he was also its active member as, among other things, the manager of TZN Xenna. Photos of the indepen­dent music scene were the basis for a state exam which gave Wasążnik an official title of “artist photographer” in 1984. Two years later, they also became one of his key reasons for leaving Poland. Presen­ted at this exhibition pic­tures from his album “Generation” (published in 2010) offer a unique and charismatic inside look at the actors of the 1980s coun­ter­cul­ture revolt.

Swedish artist Johanna Bil­ling (b. 1973), whose works we showed at Raster at her individual exhibition in 2007, has come up with her own specific lan­guage to reflect on the chan­ges occur­ring in modern societies. Her films, on the bor­der­line of fic­tion and reality, are in fact recor­dings of activities arran­ged by the artist, with mostly young people from specific places and social back­grounds as lead charac­ters. The film set becomes a kind of spon­taneous com­munity, with music, rhythm and – as in the film we show at this exhibition – choreography playing a key role. “I’m Lost Without Your Rhythm” (2009) was shot in the Romanian town of Iaşi and is a record of a con­tem­porary dance work­shop con­duc­ted with a group of local youths – students and amateurs – and headed by Swedish choreographer Anna Vnuk. The film was recen­tly acquired by the Museum of Art in Łódź for its collection.

Milena Korol­czuk (b. 1984) graduated from the Poznań Academy of Fine Arts in 2010. Her works, which are primarily photographs and films, describe the environ­ment of a young artist in a suc­cinct and for­mally refined manner. On the one hand, they show the univer­sum of art and art history assimilated during her studies and, on the other, the world of her own cul­tural and generational experien­ces. The common ground between those two realities is examined in the photographs of the “Black (after Reinhardt)” series (2009) which uncovers the very special kind of dark abyss that is the artist’s hometown of Zabłudów. Here, dark­ness offers a hiding place, just as art gives young people an escape route, but also a trap which is hard to get out of.

One question seems to be resoun­ding in the back­ground of all the works of this exhibition: what forms a com­munity? Is it the experien­ces of a generation? Common descent? A youth spent together? Can art (music, photography and film) play a decisive role in this process? What is the manner in which the images provoked and registered by artists deter­mine our own ideas and our memories of per­sonal, casual, social and art-​historical relation­ships? Is it art, with its own codes and forms, that invests our youth with its seduc­tive aura, or is it our youth that seduces and cor­rupts artists with its vitality?

The title of the exhibition is a verse from a poem by Andrzej Bursa, an artist for whom youth was the only and natural state, who never har­dened, never lived his youth through to the end and never got old. His art was cut short when he died prematurely before tur­ning thirty, at a heroic time. His was a poor sort of genius – lyrically and intel­lec­tually imper­fect – but one that embodied all that lends strength to young age: rug­ged­ness, brutality, beautiful immaturity and extraor­dinary energy.

In co-​operation with: 
Robert Jarosz; Hol­lybush Gar­dens, London

Johanna Billing, Milena Korolczuk, Michał Wasążnik