In the 19th century, Poland was often depicted in paintings as a female figure called ‘Polonia’. Polonia_2020 alludes to those depictions, from a 21st century point of view.
Engaging with motives from popular films, music videos and stock images, Polonia_2020 seeks to shed a light on issues caused by the patriarchal culture and also transforms the national ritual of martyrdom into a sadomasochistic subversion.
In 19th century, creating an allegorical formulation of ‘Polonia’ as a symbol of national martyrdom had a great influence in shaping the collective imagination in Poland. While men were portrayed as players who shape the public discourse, women were depicted as subservient creatures. This vision of woman as a human sacrifice is deeply rooted in patriarchal culture. By exaggerating the masochistic characters of ‘Polonia’ in this cycle of paintings, a space for overcoming this defensive position, opens up.
The masochist ‘Polonia’ becomes ‘insolent in her obsequiousness, rebellious in her submission. Her apparent obedience conceals a criticism and a provocation’ [Deleuze]. Adaptations of Polonia borrowed from iconic polish paintings of famous painters like Jan Matejko, Jacek Malczewski and Stanisław Wyspiański are inserted into various contemporary environments. Kitsch, bright, saturated colors also refer to aesthetics of post-internet and sit next to techniques of the traditional oil painting.