‘Only Pain is Mine’ is an exhibition prepared by women — about women. What did their Siberia look like and how they remembered it. It is supposed to be thought-provoking and rise questions: What did it mean to be a woman in Siberia? What difficulties did women face when they found themselves in a borderline situation? What experiences connect them with the victims of contemporary conflicts?
— Most of you probably know our permanent exhibition — said the Director of the Sybir Memorial Museum, Professor Wojciech Śleszyński. — No doubt her feature are emotions. We wanted to repeat them also at the temporary exhibition, but in a different form. We gave the floor to women who talk about their experiences. Most of the deportees were women. Grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters. Today, other women, our curators, dun for this women’s voice — he said.
The curators of the exhibition — Karolina Mosiej-Zambrano, PhD, Katarzyna Śliwowska and Magdalena Zięckowska-Tuchlińska — talked about how much they wanted to emphasize the importance of women’s experience.
— We want to give the floor to women and girls to create a safe space to talk about topics that are still considered taboo today — explained Karolina Mosiej-Zambrano, PhD. — We selected several dozen accounts of women who experienced repression in various forms. We chose those accounts that included aspects that had previously been ignored. We handed this priceless evidence into the hands of the artist. Memory and words transform into lines and shapes — said Mosiej-Zambrano.
— The last part of our exhibition intermingles women’s accounts from various conflicts to emphasize the universality of emotions, but also of violence that affects women — emphasized Karolina Mosiej-Zambrano.
— When we decided to make the exhibition devoted to this subject, it was natural for us to invite a woman to cooperate with us — said the second curator, Magdalena Zięckowska-Tuchlińska.
— We chose Edyta Urwanowicz from Białystok. We provided her with over 60 reports, from which she selected 20. She filtered them through her sensitivity and prepared painting works on large-format canvases.
The curators invited the representatives of Siberian women from Białystok to cooperate in preparing the exhibition. Teresa Borowska, Jolanta Hryniewicka, Wanda Kościuczuk, Janina Rutkowska and Barbara Sokólska took on the roles of the ambassadors of the exhibition.
The third curator, Katarzyna Śliwowska, the Head of the Collection Department of the Sybir Memorial Museum, talked about this project.
— Throughout the creation of the exhibition, we felt great support and help from the Ambassadors. Their stories were an inspiration and motivation for us for further action. Without a doubt, without your presence, the exhibition would not have such a shape. We would like to thank you very much for all this — said Katarzyna Śliwowska.
— On behalf of myself and all Sybiraks, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to see an exhibition that so closely presents our fate in exile. I would like to thank the curators of the exhibition, because thanks to their care and our cooperation, a monumental work was created, work that speaks to everyone. The author of the paintings put a lot of heart and many different ideas into her works. Even a thin line forces us to stand in front of the painting and think about what is the core of this issue — said Jolanta Hryniewicka, the President of the Białystok branch of the Association of Siberian Deportees.
— As women, we are most moved by mothers, especially those who had small children. We were those children. Today we are elderly people, but this Siberian trauma, these memories — it’s all in us — she said.
Long after the official part of the evening ended, the Museum guests were visiting the exhibition in fucus, listening to women’s testimonies and contemplating the paintings.
The exhibition lasts until April 28, 2024, free admission. Welcome!