Exhibition: “The Amazing Land of Quarks, Elephants and Pierogi”

10 December 2021
Polish Pavilion

We believe that the Polish language can be a fascinating and fantastic territory which we would love to show you more of.

It is based on an award-winning publication that introduces readers to the Polish mentality and language. The exhibition will be complemented by a rich programme of workshops aimed at the youngest audience.

The exhibition is organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Our exhibition takes you on a journey through this uncharted land. Along the way you’ll find out how the Polish language sounds and what it looks like! (But can you touch it?). You’ll meet strange creatures and new words – and learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of after all! Last but not least, you will get a chance to witness some of the truly mind-bending superpowers of the Polish language – along with its rather mind-blowing products.

Like any project, this exhibition has its pre-history. It all started in 2015 as an online project called ‘Poland: Word by Word’. It came from the team at Culture.pl, a website run by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, a public state institution dedicated to the promotion of Polish culture around the world. The initial idea, that of a series of online articles about Polish words, written for foreigners interested in learning Polish language and simultaneously learning about Polish culture – slowly transformed into a book concept.

That book Quarks, Elephants & Pierogi. Poland in 100 Words was an attempt to distil the essence of a nation and create a comprehensive introduction to Polish culture. At the same time, with 100 illustrations and graphic design by artist Magda Burdzyńska, it’s become a unique and beautiful object. Published originally in 2018, as part of the multi-annual national programme celebrating the 100th anniversary of the revival of the Polish state, it has since had several imprints, including a Japanese version in progress. The success of the book has also spawned a series of worldwide exhibitions from London to Tokyo, and Legnica to Basel.

With the current exhibition shown here at the Polish Pavilion of Expo 2020 Dubai, however, we have for the first time dared to combine a showcase of these lovely illustrations with a comprehensive narrative about Polish language, culture and literature. We’ve attempted to convey, in an intriguing and slightly surreal way, some of the most curious phenomena and unknown powers of Polish, seen not only as a foreign and, for some perhaps, exotic language – but also as a language of daily communication, and as a tongue of literature and poetry, wielded by a streak of Nobel Prize winners. A powerful dynamic tool that can transport you to exotic places and bestow you a trove of truly serendipitous finds.

The current presentation is also a nod to the rich culture of the host country. We’ve highlighted the perhaps not-so-obvious moments of contact and influence between Polish and Arabic culture.

Essentially, we hope that this exhibition can serve as a gateway to the amazing landscape of the Polish language and lead you to a whole new universe on the tip of your tongue.

Exhibition title: 'The Amazing Land of Quarks, Elephants and Pierogi'

10.12.2021 – 16.12.2022, The Polish Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai
Visual concept & illustrations: Magdalena Burdzyńska
Exhibition script: Mikołaj Gliński & Berenika Glińska
Text: Mikołaj Gliński & Adam Żuławski
Sound installation: Krzysztof Pawlik Stream Media
Producer: Adam Mickiewicz Institute

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