Dorota Nieznalska’s untitled video was her commentary on the situation she had been in for years. Exhibiting the already famous work ‘Pasja’ (‘Passion’) in Galeria Wyspa art gallery in Gdańsk resulted in her being charged with offending religious feelings by a group of politicians of the League of Polish Families. The case went to court. As a result, for around eight years the artist was virtually unable to exhibit her works. As she put it, she was deemed criminal even before hearing the sentence. The trial lasted a long time and the artist, as the accused, was summoned to numerous hearings. The work presented at SURVIVAL 8 showed a naked woman’s back filmed statically from waist up. The woman was putting her hands together behind her back in a gesture which looked like praying (referring to an earlier work by the same artist, ‘Prayer Position’) but also evoked associations with complicated yoga positions. This peculiar reversal, a negative of a prayer gesture, was meaningful. It symbolised both the artist’s ‘negative’, as some would say, iconoclastic role and the attitude of the accused, who belongs to a different order, a different system of codes and interpretations, towards her persecutors. The woman (probably the artists herself) was trying to freeze in an uncomfortable position for as long as possible – we could see her muscles contract in a painful cramp – but in the end she had to give up. The relief was temporary because after a few seconds the looping film started anew… The video was accompanied by a multichannel sound installation. Loudspeakers at ears’ height played the artist’s whisper reciting an unending litany of dates of her subsequent hearings.
photo: Łukasz Paluch