I don’t know a lot about Poland. But I do know something about fairytales, and I’d like to think I know a bit about girl gangs, and a bit about rage. Currently on view at SCAD MOA, Mainly for Women is an exhibition of Polish artists working around female interiority and psychosexuality. With works created amongst the Black Protest movement against the loss of reproductive autonomy and gender-based discrimination in Poland, the selection of paintings, videos and installations drip with intimate horror.
Laid out on the floor, the installation Mainly For Women, a sexual guide for women of the same name (a lot of different ways of saying lay back and think of England) lays soaking up glittering black sludge, somewhere between the dark oxygenated ichor of menses and the thick choking sticky of tar. The effect is smothering and repulsive.
Artist Dominika Olszowy ––whose biography on SCAD’s website includes that she is a founding member of moped gang called Horsefuckers M.C. ––and Wanda Wanton, who may or may not be the artist’s alter ego, wreak havoc across Warsaw, destroying things as an act of artistic creation. When the act of worlding for women is tied to creation and reproduction, Wanda Wanton’s gleeful destruction is exhilarating and joyful, a shriek that is both pleasurable and horrifically bored. Are these the only options? The removed sexual pleasure of arson or the ticky tack of sexual instruction?
There is always another way. In Paulina Olowska’s Romania, our well coiffed and gently styled hostess has taken leave of her duties and has embarked on a new adventure. Painted in purples and blues, Romania suggests night not as danger, but as elegant, refined, seductive. Her dogs stand at attention, much too large for such a slight woman and her evening gloves, their eyes aflame – watching the manor burn? Watching the flames of hell? Whatever has caught their attention, it is not our problem, nor is it hers.
The scenery that opened before me was composed of shades of black and white, and of trees woven together in lines along the boundaries between the fields. In places where the grass had not been cut, the snow had failed to blanket the fields in a uniform plane of black and white. Blades of grass were poking through its cover; from a distance it looked as if a large hand had begun to sketch an abstract pattern, by practicing some short strokes, fine and subtle. I could see the beautiful geometric shapes of fields, strips and rectangles, each with a different texture, each with its own shade, sloping at different angles towards the rapid winter Dusk.
Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead