Svetlana Boym writes: The twentieth century began with a futuristic utopia and ended with nostalgia. The optimistic belief in the future has become outmoded while nostalgia, for better or for worse, never went out of fashion, remaining uncannily contemporary. Boym, a renowned cultural theorist, identifies two types of nostalgia: restorative and reflective. The first is characterized by feelings of pain after loss, awareness of the irreversibility of the processes that have been set in motion and compulsive recollection of the past, which is perceived as a lost paradise. The second type of nostalgia strives to rebuild, while emphasizing nostos – a return from a long journey during which we re-evaluate our place in the world. Both types of nostalgia are reflected in the works presented in the exhibition. Their creators offer us glimpses of various visions of the climate crisis, suspended between the present and future. On the one hand, we can view landscapes scarred by environmental degradation and post-industrial sprawl; on the other, we experience a hybrid reality in which the organic blends with the mechanical and digital. Anticipating the future ‘post-crisis’ fate of the human species, we can imagine its retrograde evolution (a return to the oceans), close connection with the natural world by means of new technologies (creation of so-called ‘life infrastructures’) or eventual extinction while its legacy is left to the mercy of artificial intelligence.
The Nostalgia for Humanity exhibition is thus a kind of pre-traumatic reflection. The premonition of a looming ecological catastrophe that we ourselves have triggered creates fertile ground for various speculations about the future fate of our species. Cassandran scenarios have not yet come to pass. To survive, it may be worthwhile to actively yearn for an essential part of humanity that has been lost – ideas of community and nurture that re-evaluate our current position and importance in the global ecosystem. Curated by: Monika Weychert, Rafał Kosewski.