SEX AND SUBVERSION IN THE ART OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF POLAND (Seks i subwersja w sztuce PRL-u)
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The article presents an analysis of the seditious usage of sexuality in the art of the Peoples Republic of Poland (PRL) and in relation to this criterion proposes to distinguish the alternative history of modern art in Poland after 1945. The starting point of the analysis is the sadomasochistic explosion in the drawings by Jerzy Nowosielski dating from the first half of the 1950's, which were conceived as an act of rebellion against the totalitarian rules of Socrealist imagery, against the authority and prudery. Next, the works dating from the 1970's are discussed: feminist media interventions by Natalia LL and body performances by Jerzy Beres and Ewa Partum. These lead towards the counter-culture body art and action art in the circle of the Galeria Repassage; the homosexual character of the performance by Krzysztof Jung is particularly accentuated here. Stress is put also in the influence of the sexual revolution on the independent filmmaking by directors belonging to the Amateur Film Clubs (AKF). Artists' subversive attitude to sexuality is analysed in context of governmental censorship, which repressed artistic expression through accusations of pornography; examples of exhibitions censored on these grounds are enumerated. The author points out the importance of the official aesthetic theory, enforced from the 1960's onward, which took part in creating the artistic system known as the 'Socialist Modernism'. The thesis is proposed that the Socialist Modernism was defined in opposition to pornography. The category of pornography included works of art which used sexuality subversively by introducing the element of desire and physicality and radicalising the contact with the recipient. The contrast between art and pornography was of crucial importance both to the official aesthetic theory and to the acts of censorship. The rules of the anti-pornographic Socialist Modernism were set out in the 1965 text by Stefan Morawski, which is analysed in the article. Morawski's traditional attitude is contrasted to the counter-culture theory of blurred boundary between art and pornography, introduced in 1969 by Susan Sontag; the author of the article agrees with this theory. As subversive to the socialist ethos and artistic regime, the author considers art which in times of the PRL approached the forbidden area of pornography by its directness in depicting body and sex, including genital nudity. Another element of this gender and sexual revolution is constituted by works transgressing the hetero-normative patriarchy supported by the authorities both in the PRL and after political breakthrough of the late 1980's. In this manner, sexuality was a means of political commentary as much as expression of individual freedom and intimate life. In conclusion it is pointed out that the satirically and vulgarly pornographic character of art created in the 1980's, in the output of Lódz Kaliska and Gruppa, became an expression of rejection of the old rules in the period of transformations in the political and social system. It was also an expression of the opposition to the emergent conservative ethical and patriotic ideology promoted by the Church, then newly come to power, and the political groups affiliated to it.
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