I remember this image from my childhood: I was maybe 10 years old. A summer day, after school. My classmate and I stepped outside the boundaries of the familiar Śródmieście district. We directed our steps towards an unspecified destination. We found ourselves on Mickiewicza Street, where the Teatr Polski building still stands today. Without thinking much about it, we opened the door and went inside unstopped by anyone. Silence. Emptiness. Soft carpeting underfoot. From the lobby, somehow intuitively, we sneaked into the auditorium. We hid between the rows of seats. We knew we were crossing a line. Our behaviour was unusual. On stage, the work of the editing team was under way. A working hustle and bustle. Bent in half, almost on all fours, we left through another door. We found ourselves in a corridor leading up to the backstage. In fact, it was only a few seconds’ look, a glance. I saw the theatre from a different side. Ugly, with lots of rubbish, ladders, ropes, with scraped walls. No powder, no mask, no lights, no magic. I remember the feeling of excitement, trepidation, perhaps slight disappointment? The organism from within. We ran out of the building after a while. We laughed outside for a very long time.
Darek Gackowski’s photographic project Backstage was created at a time of dynamic changes affecting many cultural institutions in Bydgoszcz. Thermal modernisation, conversion or creation of entirely new buildings have all generated numerous changes.
The photographs are an attempt at reportage; they document places to which the potential viewer has no access. Backrooms, storerooms, technical rooms, curtains, backstage, dressing rooms and hoisting rooms… The viewer may not have the opportunity to see it, but he remains wildly curious. From ugly, cluttered interiors is born what we see at the front, on stage, in the showroom. Often when working on a project, during rehearsals, editing, something happens, something intangible. Art happens! Of course, such moments often cannot be replicated in front of an audience, but they have their place in the history of the project’s creation and certainly have a definitive impact on perception. The silent presence of the technical team is felt under the skin. Breaths held, numerous eyes from the backstage, readiness, tension.
Among the many situations recorded by Darek Gackowski, we see the ones we expect: the clutter on stage, props in the process of transformation, but also temporary, comic juxtapositions of objects. The commentary on what is happening from the stage side is often observed right in the backstage. The technical team plays their own exhibitions, performances and concerts in the safe spaces of the backstage. There is no applause…
Start 13.05.2023, 6 pm