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Marta Czok
Curated by Jacek Ludwig Scarso


From 26th March 2024, Project Space, Venice
542-544 Campo Rialto Novo, 30125 VE
Wednesday - Saturday 4pm - 7:30pm admission free

Marta Czok EX_PATRIA Banner (2).jpg

Curatorial Notes

In response to the theme of the Sixtieth Venice Art Biennale "Foreigners Everywhere", Fondazione Marta Czok presents EX_PATRIA, under the patronage of the Polish Embassy in Rome: a collection of recent and historical works by Marta Czok, from the eighties to the present day, which reflect on the construction of the concept of homeland and the ideologies that make this concept ambiguous. On the one hand, the idea of homeland conforms with the need to call a place "home" and to feel that such a home is designed to protect rights and ensure an adequate standard of living.  On the other hand, the construction of this concept involves the identification of "borders", the physical and metaphorical barriers that imply the imaginary distinction between Self and Other.


Migration, political asylum, xenophobia and nationalist populism relate to this principle, reinforcing its symbolic meaning and the lived experience of those directly affected by this. In these works, we find a gap between those who need to leave their countries and those who have the power to determine their destiny: the politics of war, transnational bureaucracies, the impact of a global economy blur into one another, making those who remain in limbo even more vulnerable: without a place, without rights, without a home.

Marta Czok's work develops hand in hand with her "stateless" identity: born in Lebanon in 1947, Marta Czok comes from a family of Polish political refugees: her Mother's family, at the beginning of the War, resided in the city of Ostrog, now part of present-day Ukraine, and was deported to Siberia, before rejoining the Polish army and the Allies. In the horrors of World War II, her family was subjected to prison camps, forced labour and the Katyn massacre, where 25,000 officers and members of the Polish intelligentsia, including her grandfather Stanislaw Zurakowski, were shot by the Soviets. During and after the war, her family was in the Middle East: in Iran, in Lebanon, in Palestine, then back to Lebanon, before arriving in Egypt. Their hoped-for return to Poland, however, was not possible and they found political asylum in London, where they started again as landless and where Czok grew up, until she moved to Italy in the seventies.

Marta Czok's childhood was marked by these events, because the impact of the war continued in the stories told by her family, in the precariousness of a start to life as a refugee, in the fear of further deportations and new conflicts that could arise at any moment.


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