Don't hold your tongue

Don't hold your tongue

Don't hold your tongue

solo exibition at Shefter Gallery
Curator: Agnieszka Gołębiewska

It is said that in the beginning there was a word. As an idea, order and thought. Then people built the Tower of Babel and ancient Esperanto went to hell, and the world descended into linguistic chaos.
Reportedly, in turn, in the beginning there was chaos. From it emerged a plethora of warring deities, creating the world and then humans. So here we are.

Monika Drozynska keeps vigil at the point where thought and language meet. And in fact she creates, sitting with a needle in her hand. Embroiderer, visual artist, activist of Polish national railroads, embroidering headrests in train Pendolino. An observer and vigilant catcher of words.


Because language is a fascinating phenomenon. It is a sense of being at home. It is something we take for granted when it is our mother tongue and in it we live, communicate and form our thoughts.
However, it can be a reason for our exclusion when we know it insufficiently well and get lost somewhere in translation. This, in turn, can mean an inability to express ourselves fully and be part of the community at the same time.

The writer of these words has had over a decade of emigration experience and a whole lot of stories at the interface of the funny and the painful. Suffice it to say that, having had a computer with a different keyboard for all that time, typing on the Polish one meant having to re-learn the combinations for creating Polish characters. It would seem such a trivial and simple thing. These Polish letters in my name have always emphasised my otherness. I like them very much.

Monika Drożyńska pulls our teeth and won’t let us hide the tongue behind them.
“Hold your tongue” is a well-known saying. Keep silent, even though you know. I know, but I won’t tell. For speech is silver, but it is silence that is gold.
“It is a virtue above virtues, to hold one’s tongue.” – These are words taken from a didactic play by Władysława Izdebska from 1824:
“It is a virtue above virtues,
To hold one’s tongue;
What one does not have to say, one must sit quietly
Better, honey, to be silent than to say a foolish thing”.
And for me, speaking up is a virtue, says Monika Drożyńska, and how, embroidering one of her works at the moment. From here, Monika’s works include banners at women’s strike demonstrations.
Having a voice is still a privilege, although it should be one of the basic civil rights.

In the work “Moon”, which announces the exhibition, an emblematically rendered hand squeezes a long and twisted tongue emerging from the mouth.
Like a flower set on a long, twisting stem, the tongue is ‘knotted’ by the hand. Next to it, two wolves howl to the moon, formed from a combination of letters building an association with the word ‘woman’, so that the word ‘man’ does not appear. For it was women who were usually tongue-tied, and attempts are still being made to do so.
The infamous female virtues are, in the opinion of some, still humility and obmutescence.
Today, Poland is becoming a new homeland for thousands of people from Ukraine.
Monika Drożyńska creates inter-language bridges. One of the artist’s works will create a tent, a kind of shelter. Let us be good and kind to each other. Let’s not fight over the wrong endings in the genitive. There is room for everyone.
(Agnieszka Gołębiewska)