Joanna Rajkowska, Two Men and a Mattress, 2017, 8'39", video still

A ‘Day of Learning’

Artists: Griet Menschaert, Katarzyna Perlak, Joanna Rajkowska and Justyna Scheuring
Curated by Katarzyna Sobucka 

Diaspora Pavilion, Palazzo Pisani S. Marina, Venice
25 - 26 November 2017

A 'Day of Learning' is a series of live events presented as a part of the closing programme of the Diaspora Pavilion in Venice. The programme is centred upon an exploration of post-Brexit sociopolitical landscape and forms a part of a long-term research and commission project, 'The Illusion of Return'.

Alongside the artists of Diaspora Pavilion we will be premiering a new video 'Two Men and a Mattress' by Joanna Rajkowska; presenting 'Vulnerable', a participatory performance by Katarzyna Perlak, and 'Interval', a performance by Justyna’s Scheuring featuring singers: Agnieszka Podubny and Robin Paley Yorke.

With the title A 'Day of Learning' we refer to the day of the Brexit referendum. The title is inspired by a project Griet Menschaert realized during the '100 Days of Learning' programme in Eindhoven. Her day of learning entitled: ‘Strolling Through The Grass on The Other Side’ will also be performed in Venice.



Katarzyna Perlak
Vulnerable (2017)

Vulnerable performance and sound piece is a collection of 142 exchanges with participants who tell me how to pronounce ‘vulnerable’ properly. The recordings were done in both sound studio and in public spaces, in London and in Harlow where Arkadiusz Jozwik was killed in hate crime on 27th August 2016, shortly after the Brexit vote.

The work reflects upon the relationship between language, power structures, social mobility and vulnerability. Through the action of asking participants to tell me how to pronounce the word “properly, ” I intended to complicate the sense of inaccuracy and vulnerability one experiences when speaking with an accent that isn’t considered “desirable”. Through the repetition, the word not only disintegrates phonetically and semantically but also throughout the process, there is a spreadable feeling of confusion regarding what “properly” is.

During the Diaspora Pavilion closing week programme Katarzyna would invite audience members to participate in the work and will make new recordings on the site. Previous recordings

Previous recordings
Video documentation


Justyna Scheuring
Interval (2016)

Performed by two singers: Agnieszka Podubny and Robin Paley Yorke
Duration: 18 minutes
Interval is the pause that sees two performers sing concurrently, in tandem, Polish and, respectively, English songs, from pop to folk, in strange unison, in a precise cross-section of cultural interrogation. (…) This is a diptych about migration, about the social tensions and politicisation of the foreign body, about the irresolvable and the unseen. 
Diana Damian-Martin

Interval is Justyna’s artistic response to Post-Brexit xenophobic attacks targeting Poles living in the UK. It is designed for 2 singers (Polish and English) who stand next to each other & sing a cappella at the same time, overlapping different tunes and languages. Moments of harmony occur during this performative manifestation of coexistence.

Justyna is interested in the emotional presence of a human being and groups of people in social situations. She creates new beings within the limits of already existing ones and consciously acts on the border of a seemingly natural state. Most of her projects speak about presence, mutual relations, instinctive reactions, a formation of group identities and social behaviours as well as an encounter and Difference.


Joanna Rajkowska
Two Men and a Mattress (2017), 8'39"

Two Men and a Mattress, a new film by Joanna Rajkowska, started life as a film about Brexit. Unexpectedly, it grew into a narrative about an inexplicable urge that occasionally drives people blindly to their own destruction. With a nod to Two Men and a Wardrobe by Roman Polański (1958), which depicted Polish postwar reality, saturated with violence, Rajkowska’s film employs two British men who, on a hot Polish summer day suddenly perform a strange act - taking a mattress and drowning it in the swamp. Before they do it, they discuss the historical moment they find themselves in and its 'bloody awful' character. And then an exhausting and unstoppable trip with the mattress begins: downhill, through a forest, thorns and nettles, pursued by mosquitoes, into the swamps. 'There is a kind of inevitability, once you start…', one of them comments. It is worth remembering the earlier wardrobe-carrying sequence in The Adventures of a Good Citizen (Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, Warsaw, 1937).

The humorous and surreal performance by a group of friends includes a Jewish character. Watching the film, it is hard not to think about the catastrophe of the Holocaust that was already looming. And, as we know, the summer of 1939, like the summer in Two Men and a Mattress, was very hot.


Griet Menschaert
A ‘Day of Learning, Strolling Through The Grass on The Other Side’

The meeting performance ‘Strolling Through The Grass on The Other Side’ takes a form of an open invitation to a one on one conversation. The aim is to take a look in someone else’s drives, longings and history – the grass on the other side - and in that way learn something about yourself. The artist invites someone from the audience to sit with her and have a 5-minute talk about destiny and heritage, about where one would like to be if one likes to ‘go away’... At the end of this conversation, she offers her guest to take her place and invite someone else. It is an immaterial experiment, using simply ourselves and our real-life story. The idea is to help each other to see your strengths, which also helps to move on more powerfully. The interviewers are asked to not judge the answers but accept them as they come.


The programme is realised in collaboration with International Curators Forum, Diaspora Pavilion. Please visit Diaspora Pavilion for the full details of the closing programme.

'A Day of Learning' programme is supported by Arts Council England, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, and The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage via Scholarship Programme.

The ICF closing programme was made possible by Art Fund. The Diaspora Pavilion was made possible with support from Arts Council England, University of the Arts London and Bloomberg Contemporaries.