28.05.2021 - 05.09.2021Curator: Katarzyna Karwańska Organizer: Krakow Photomonth Festival
As early as the interwar period, Polish Futurists highlighted the core issue with constructed social realities, such as identity and race, which in performance theory are fleeting and fluid. In 1919, the first avant-garde performance in Poland, A Subtropical Evening Organised by White Negroes, took place, initiated by Anatol Stern and Aleksander Wat. The programme included the reading of texts ‘with outrageous syntax, pornographic and Rabelaisian content,’1 including Stern’s poem ‘Burning a Fig Leaf,’ a piece read by a man wearing only a gauze loincloth. ‘Much was said and written about us after that. It was not flattery,’ Wat later recalled.2 Futurists, in the role of ‘naked people in the cite centre,’ overthrew social and cultural norms in a manifestation of moral and artistic freedom.
It is precisely this freedom that Machciński seeks to achieve, not via contestation, but by affirmation, replacing the ‘naked man’ with myriad colourful identities. The artist creates characters and reconstructs them, at the same time processing and questioning the stereotypical categories that divide people, thus exposing the performative nature of all identities. Despite an evident romance with primitivism, Machciński’s creative practice, as with that of the Futurists, is devoid of any intention of causing hurt. Instead, it appears as a universalistic, humanistic strategy that gathers together in one place people of all races, religions, and genders. ‘My characters are not just about Europe—Asia, Africa, the whole world,’ says the artist,3 portraying in his atlas of humanity an extensive, detailed, and colourful taxonomy of human faces and emotions.
Hail the world!
black, red, yellow, white people –
from Europe – Asia – Australia –
from Africa, America –
recluse of the islands –
kiss your colourful snouts
1 Aleksander Wat, Wspomnienia o futuryzmie, „Miesięcznik Literacki” 1930, nr 2.
3 https://youtu.be/Om_2QaTZe8A. Kalisz 1967.
4 Stanisław Młodożeniec, Hymn pokoju, 1921.