Sharon Lockhart’s exhibition “Rudzienko” marks the first ever presentation of the artist’s work in the Baltic States and the first time that this installation has been exhibited at a European institution.
For over two decades, Lockhart has made films, photographs, and installations that are both visually compelling and socially engaged, exploring how labor, rest, education and play are enacted and represented. Her practice is largely based on personal interactions and creative collaborations that unfold over extended periods of time, working with communities such as ship workers in Maine, a girls’ basketball team in Japan, children in the American West and, most recently, a group of Polish teenagers. These works produced through dialogue, community and collaboration, shape an unexpected synthesis of socially committed process and formal aesthetics that make Lockhart’s oeuvre so compelling.
The themes of childhood and adolescence have featured in Lockhart’s work since the mid ‘90s and are further developed in a recent body of work by the artist focusing on the group of girls from the Youth Socio-Therapy Centre in Rudzienko, Poland — a state-run home for girls. Lockhart’s engagement with this group derives from her longstanding personal friendship and creative collaboration with one of the Centre’s inhabitants, Milena, whom the artist met while creating her 2009 film Podwórka. Inspired by the girl’s desire to tell her story, Lockhart began a research into the issues Milena faced as well as education and the history of children’s rights more broadly.
The two-channel film installation Rudzienko (2016), lends the exhibition its title and features the girls from the Centre engaging in conversations and various activities in the Polish countryside. From 2014 through 2017, Lockhart organized a series of workshops with the girls that took place over several summers at farmhouses outside of Warsaw. The sites of the workshops double as the locations in the film and the improvised conversations caught on camera were prompted by their content. Through the simple tasks of thinking, writing, moving, singing, listening, and improvising the girls were encouraged to express themselves, to open up their minds and voices to new possibilities behind the habitual horizon of the sensible. The film installation and a related series of three still photographs entitled When You’re Free, You Run in the Dark (all 2016), also on view at the CAC, are products of these shared experiences. This overarching project is also the subject of a new artist book released concurrent with the exhibition.
Alongside the exhibition and publication, the CAC hosts a short workshop with this group of girls and selected screenings of Lockhart’s films at the CAC’s Cinema.
Sharon Lockhart is an American artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1991 and her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in 1993 where she studied with Mike Kelley and Stephen Prina among others. Lockhart has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions throughout her career, including those at Findazione Fotografia, Modena, IT (2018); Museu Berardo, Lisbon, PT (2017); the Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, US (2016); Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, CH (2015); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, SE (2014); CCA Warsaw – Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, PL (2013); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, US (2012); The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, IL (2011); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, US (2011); Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg, DE (2008), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, US (2006); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, US (2001). She has been included in the biennials of Liverpool, UK (2014), Shanghai, CN (2014), Sydney, AU (2006), and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, US (2004, 2000, 1997) as well as the FRONT International Triennial, Cleveland, US (2018). She was selected to represent Poland at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Image: video still from Sharon Lockhart’s film Rudzienko (2016)