Konstancja Nowina Konopka. God, Honor, Fatherland and the Sea (10.09 — 02.10)


Konstancja Nowina Konopka
God, Honor, Fatherland and the Sea
2019

God, honor, fatherland and the sea
—————————————————
…these are loose pages, randomly torn out from the family album of Sopot by Peter the
Confederate*
*a local weirdo who in his heyday swam in the puddle, and then he died but might as well be alive.
—————————————————

Sometimes Peter the Confederate sees ghosts that hover in the space of Sopot.
These are ghosts of Jews and Soviet soldiers.
At times he even visits their graveyards.
The Jewish cemetery is easy to find,
fenced from the catholic one
which always drowns in tawdry flowers and twinkles with vigil lights.
Opposite, there’s an ordinary, municipal graveyard.
In the Jewish cemetery, it is quiet and dark, and also pleasant when it’s warm outside.
Peter the Confederate often forgets the way to the cemetery of Soviet soldiers.
It is hidden in the woods and getting there often ends up with straying up and down
stony flights of stairs and all of them look alike.
In the summer, one needs to step carefully, move about snails, those worst
and slimiest among all snails, those that “have no house on their back”.
Peter the Confederate also sees phantoms sometimes.
Wraiths from the past that have nothing to do with reality.
The most he fears the three ones.
They always come together.
God, Honor, and Fatherland.
These are the scariest ones.
Sometimes he is able to shoo the ghosts of Jews and Soviet Soldiers away.
Regarding Jews, it’s enough to stop thinking about them and they disappear.
Soviet soldiers go away when he waves the American flag,
then the Bolsheviks melt like candy floss in hands.
The wraiths that appear on his way together, taking the shape of:
God, Honor, and Fatherland,
are impossible to get rid of,
with them, he has to come to terms …
———————————

Peter the Confederate is an authentic character, a local weirdo of Sopot who wrote poems for money
at tourists’ request. He would always carry an American flag which he proudly waved in Monciak
and which earned him his nickname, the Confederate. He is also a legendary figure who took a
special place in the hearts and memory of the city dwellers. Nevertheless, neither a book nor a
monument has been created to honor him, as it was the case of two local weirdos who lightened the
city atmosphere together with him. Apart from Peter the Confederate, The Umbrella Maker
(Parasolnik) and Canada George (Dżordż Kanada) – both already deceased but honored and
commemorated by the local artists and authorities – made the already legendary ‘The Holy Trinity”
of Sopot freaks.
The author borrowed or – to tell it like it is – stole the identity of Peter the Confederate to make him
the narrator of her story about Sopot. This way, Konstancja Nowina Konopka – a bit like a weirdo –
mooched about the city, entering random relations, making bold offers to strangers and taking
photos of them, and dragging them into her narrative about Sopot.
The history of Sopot written with a madman’s hand, the one screaming among the crowds of
passing-by tourists. The never-ending party has been on for over a hundred years… sometimes it is
difficult to recall what happened yesterday… to find the identity – lost like a wallet after hitting the
pot. The identity of Sopot…
Undercover of the mentally ill Peter the Confederate’s figure, the author is able – with impunity and
full freedom, with no care about proportions and timeline – to summon the variety of ghosts and
phantoms that maunder in the nooks of the history of Sopot, hidden away from tourists behind the
intricate façade of festivals and events. What separates us, is time. What links us, is the never-
ending common grief over national tragedies. It is a nightmare that you cannot get rid of after
waking up.
In the present story, the author used the photographs she took in Sopot and combined them with
archival photographs. The latter have been sourced from the following institutions: National Digital
Archive, Institute of National Remembrance, SPATiF – Sopot Archives.

#gaps_in_history

Кonstancja Nowina Konopka is a Polish artist working in the field of photography. She is the
laureate of numerous competitions – 21 New and Emerging Talents, Lens Culture Student
Photography Awards 2013, Leica Street Photo 2013, Slovak Press Photo 2016, Vienna International Photo Awards 2013, The Miami Street Photography Festival 2013, etc.

10.09 — 02.10
“Ў” Gallery
12:00 – 21:00, daily

10.09
Opening
“Ў” Gallery, 19:00