Czesław Miłosz’s Room, Palace of Culture and Science, Parade Square 1
In Great Britain, 2017 is marked by the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual relationships in England and Wales. To celebrate this occasion, leading museums, including the British Museum and Tate Britain, have prepared a number of exhibitions and supporting events, thus joining the anniversary celebrations commemorating this act of law. Exhibits presenting work by LGBTQ people, queering one’s own collections and new tourist routes are just some of the strategies proposed in the jubilee year.
In 2017, Poland is far from celebrating its own anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual relationships. However, if any Polish museum or another art institution came up with an idea similar to Great Britain’s, we could be now celebrating the 85th anniversary of the lifting of criminal penalties for sexual relationships between persons of the same sex in Poland. Meanwhile, we are celebrating the year of the avant-garde, devoid – in our country – of sex and sexuality. We are opening new historical museums without stories about LGBTQ people. We are launching exhibitions where nonheteronormative behavior is ignored.
An ephemeral exhibition, Heritage was created as a non-institutional response to this status quo. Taking the form of a visual essay, it consists of archive materials, books and artifacts: museum exhibits or reproductions of such objects, as well as works by contemporary artists. Heritage raises questions about the status and visibility of LGBTQ people throughout Poland’s history. It shows and queers the histories and herstories of those whose works belong to the strictest canon of Poland’s national heritage as well as of those who today are forgotten or unfamiliar to a broader audience. Thanks to its sketchy character, Heritage is both an exhibition that looks forward to the future and a lesson to learn. Perhaps in fifteen years’ time, on the 100th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual relationships in Poland, we will see it displayed at an institution.