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Pavilion of Poland at the 57th International Art Exhibition features Sharon Lockhart's "Little Review"
Sharon Lockhart, Little Review at the Polish Pavilion in Venice. Photo by Bartosz Gorka.

VENICE.- Little Review is the winning project by American artist Sharon Lockhart for the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017. Created through her longstanding relationship with the young women of the Youth Socio-Therapy Center in Rudzienko, Lockhart’s project foregrounds an uncompromised expression of youth, female strength, collaboration, and the social potential of art making. In her portrayal of these young women, the artist references the work of Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish pedagogue and early advocate for children’s rights. Sharon Lockhart’s Little Review is curated by Barbara Piwowarska, and organized by Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, one of the most important art institutions in Poland.

Little Review is a multifaceted project that includes new artwork, translations of a historic newspaper, and an ongoing series of generative workshops taking place in and around Warsaw. An artistic and educational philosophy that privileges the unique voice and experience of young people is central to Lockhart’s project. Lockhart creates a space for dynamic exchange in both her new film, Little Review, and a set of photographs depicting two of the girls as they peruse an archive of the original newspapers. The installation, designed with the architectural firm EscherGunewardena, brings the pavilion’s architecture together with elements from the National Library of Poland to emphasize the archival roots of the project as well as to establish a very specific relationship between the components of the pavilion and the viewer. Little Review celebrates and amplifies the distinct perspectives of the girls from Rudzienko, unifying their individual stories through a shared identification with Polish history and culture.

The figure and work of Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish pediatrician, radical pedagogue, and writer who was inspired by children and their perspectives, provides Little Review with a philosophical framework as well as crucial meanings. The titular Mały Przegląd [Little Review], created by Korczak, was a weekly supplement to the Nasz Przegląd [Our Review], a popular Jewish daily in pre-WWII Poland published every Friday for thirteen years beginning in 1926. Mały Przegląd ceased publication on September 1, 1939 as World War II began. During it’s run, it functioned just as a regular newspaper, with sections on politics, travel, science, sports, and culture. However, all the texts were written by children acting as correspondents from across the country. Lockhart’s presentation at the Polish Pavilion will include the first English translations of selected issues of Maly Przegląd.

Keeping in the tradition of Korczak’s theories, Lockhart and Zachęta – National Gallery of Art established a series of educational workshops for the girls of the Youth Socio-Therapy Center in Rudzienko that informed the work in the pavilion and will continue to run throughout 2017.

Lockhart explains, “This project is an expansion of my ongoing relationship with the young women of the Youth Socio-Therapy Center in Rudzienko. It was a true collaboration. It’s our Pavilion. The educational workshops with Zachęta and several other Warsaw organizations are an integral and continuing part of the project. Employing language, choreography and music developed in these interactions, in the film Little Review, the girls literally take center stage, expressing complex relationships to their time and place. The young women engaged directly with the archive of Mały Przegląd [Little Review] and the National Library of Poland, discovering links between the past and present. They zealously responded to the newspaper created by Korczak and the timeless validation that children are people and their voices matter.”

“Among various features, which convinced the members of the Jury to choose Sharon Lockhart’s Little Review for the presentation at the Polish Pavilion, one element was the most appealing and unique. Sharon Lockhart refers to the history of the life and work of Janusz Korczak — physician, educator, writer, journalist and social activist. But she does not concentrate on the dramatic aspect of his biography (Korczak died at the Treblinka extermination camp alongside his charges from the orphanage he was running). The main aim of her project is to recall the extraordinary quality of Korczak’s pedagogical approach and his teaching method and present it to the worldwide audience. Sharon Lockhart refers to Korczak’s methods, yet with the use of her owns means of expression. She treats children, who are the main inspiration of her work, with the respect they deserve and creates for them an environment where their self-expression can flourish” – says Hanna Wróblewska, commissioner of the Polish Pavilion and director of the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, the institution that has been the organizer and custodian of the Polish Pavilion in Venice for many years.

On the initiative of Wróblewska, a presentation accompanying Sharon Lockhart’s Little Review will take place at Zachęta in Warsaw (May 26 – June 4). The visitors will have a chance to see the original copies of Mały Przegląd [Little Review], which is key to the actions undertaken by the artist.

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