We Protect You From Yourselves

The exhibition will be open from October 23 to November 29

a/political and Biennale Warszawa present collective Democracia with a special intervention from collective Syrena

We Protect You From Yourselves is an exhibition spanning over two floors of Biennale Warszawa. Democracia’s arresting series 18 Police Portraits, 2014 occupies the ground floor, establishing the presence of authority. Confronting the police on both floors are dissident voices: upstairs that of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, depicted in the series Jeremiah, 2018, named after a justice-seeking prophet; on the ground floor, that of a Warsaw-based collective Syrena. The exhibition re-engages with the issues of police brutality and surveillance, addressed earlier this year by Democracia through interventions in London and Warsaw.

Back in July, Democracia hijacked Polish electoral messages that glared from LED screens at Warsaw’s Swietokrzyska underground station, with a multiplied image of a riot policeman (Silence, 2018 – 2020). This disruption was a stark reminder of assaults on civil rights, now directed at LGBT+ communities, but reflective of wider exploitation of police entitlement. In the aftermath of the Polish parliamentary elections, protesters took to the streets in an act of disobedience that the police brutally suppressed. The photographs of that pacification, like those taken by Democracia during anti-austerity protests in Madrid in 2012, included in the series We Protect You From Yourselves, 2013 and 18 Portraits, 2014, focused on the visible aspects of surveillance and law enforcement. The radicalisation of the police at the street level seems to be reflective of that in digital reality, whereby spyware, such as the infamous Pegasus, is deployed across the globe against political opponents, activists and dissidents (as disclosed by The Citizen Lab).

Amiri Baraka’s divisive poem Somebody Blew Up America, 2001 marks an important moment on the timeline of police ascension to power; Selected verses from the piece appear on the picket signs exhibited on the first floor. The poem was written after 9/11, when new legislations were passed in the US, under the guise of terrorism prevention, to further empower law enforcement officers. In Poland, the same framework was used more recently in the context of the 2016 Antiterrorist Act, which increased the governmental power to invigilate and block information shared via telecommunications. In Jeremiah, 2018, Democracia shows the members of Huey P. Newton Gun Club in Houston, Texas, holding the picket signs. The club, which descends from the Black Panther Party for Self Defence, were surveilled by the FBI. One of their members was spied on and prosecuted as domestic terrorists for speaking about police brutality on social media (Rakem Balogun).

Collective Syrena—who, together with Stop Bullshit (Stop Bzdurom), a radical, feminist and queer collective, found themselves at the forefront of recent protests in Warsaw—shares a broader perspective on the processes enabling the police, which extends beyond the current political make-up of the government. Syrena’s practice, based on the ideas of self-governance, social justice and solidarity, reclaims power from the police and authorities for the community. By doing so, they echo the global demands to defund the police and rethink its role in modern societies.

Production:Z.U.CH.

ORDER and Jeremiah series are a joint commission between a/political & the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.

Informacje

The exhibition will be open from October 23 to November 29,  from Friday to Sunday: 11:00–15:00 and 16:00–20:00.

Venue: Biennale Warszawa, 34/50 Marszałkowska Street (MA3450)

Admission free

Opening day: October 23, 2020, 11:00–15:00 and 16:00–20:00

The exhibition is presented in a space which is not entirely accessible for people with disabilities (no lift to the second level).

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We are glad that you want to visit us. Comfort and safety of our visitors and employees are important to us.

What can you do?

Cover your nose and mouth, Use personal protective equipment (a mask, a scarf, or a visor). If you forgot to take one with you, we will give you a disposable face mask.

Use disinfectant on your hands before you enter the exhibition space.

Check your body temperature. If you are in doubt about your wellbeing, you can use our electronic thermometer to take your temperature.

Keep the safe distance. Take note if the distance between you and another visitor or a Promoter is greater than 1.5 meters.

Please adhere to the limit of people allowed in the exhibition space at the same time.

Leave the statement informing us about your health status with your contact details so we can counteract the pandemic and, if need be, work with the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.

Fill out the survey. It will help us adjust Biennale to your needs.

What are we doing for you?

We provide protective measures. Disinfectant is available on each floor. If need be, we can provide a disposable face mask.

We regularly disinfect and air our space. We introduced a service break from 15.00 to 16.00.

We take our temperatures before we start working.

We introduced a limit of visitors. At any one time, the exhibition can be attended by 10 visitors, including 1 person in the featured enclosed space with the video presentation.

The cloakroom and the coffee-and-tea corner are currently not in use.

We are glad that you want to visit us. Comfort and safety of our visitors and employees are important to us.

What can you do?

Cover your nose and mouth, Use personal protective equipment (a mask, a scarf, or a visor). If you forgot to take one with you, we will give you a disposable face mask.

Use disinfectant on your hands before you enter the exhibition space.

Check your body temperature. If you are in doubt about your wellbeing, you can use our electronic thermometer to take your temperature.

Keep the safe distance. Take note if the distance between you and another visitor or a Promoter is greater than 1.5 meters.

Please adhere to the limit of people allowed in the exhibition space at the same time.

Leave the statement informing us about your health status with your contact details so we can counteract the pandemic and, if need be, work with the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.

Fill out the survey. It will help us adjust Biennale to your needs.

What are we doing for you?

We provide protective measures. Disinfectant is available on each floor. If need be, we can provide a disposable face mask.

We regularly disinfect and air our space. We introduced a service break from 15.00 to 16.00.

We take our temperatures before we start working.

We introduced a limit of visitors. At any one time, the exhibition can be attended by 45 visitors.

The cloakroom and the coffee-and-tea corner are currently not in use.