Group Exhibition
The Captive Mind.
The Tyranny of the Image in Post-1945 Polish Photography
14th may 2011
to 10th june 2011



Stefan Arczyński, Zdzisław Beksiński, Witold Dederko, Zbigniew Dłubak, Mariusz Hermanowicz, Jerzy Lewczyński, Krystyna Łyczywek, Marek Piasecki, Wojciech Plewiński, Zofia Rydet, Leonard Sempoliński, Andrzej Strumiłło, Tadeusz Sumiński, and Józef Jan Głogowski

KING CLAUDIUS: Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
HAMLET: At supper.
KING CLAUDIUS: At supper! where?
HAMLET: Not where he eats, but where he is eaten …

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 3)

The Captive Mind.The Tyranny of the Image in Post-1945 Polish Photography is based on Czesław Miłosz’s The Captive Mind (Zniewolony umysł), a nonfiction work he wrote at Maisons-Laffitte in 1951, after having severed ties with the communist regime in Poland. At the time, the book was for Miłosz an attempt to overcome a sense of fatalism and pessimism in the face of Poland’s becoming part of the Soviet bloc and its Stalinisation, which many in Poland welcomed. It was written, however, for the Western audience, depicting a classic example of conquest by both physical power and philosophical arguments. The title occurred to Miłosz originally in its English version and he started looking for a Polish equivalent for it. In Polish, zniewalać means both ‘to captivate’ and ‘to take captive’, ‘to enslave’. Thus, in Miłosz’s terms, a captive mind means first something captivating and only then enslavement, captivity. In his introduction to the book’s French edition, philosopher Karl Jaspers stresses that Miłosz manages to show ‘specifically how various processes of dissimulation, inner transformation develop, how a sudden conversion [to the faith in historical necessity] occurs and how one is divided into two’. Still, despite the totalitarian terror, something of one’s former self survives. Jaspers identifies it in Miłosz with a ‘desire of justice, a distorted truth’. This ‘moral stance’ can assume carious forms and intervene in the creative act. Remembering the origins of that act, Miłosz noted, ‘There is no other way for the individual than to trust his inner constraint and to risk everything in order to express what he feels to be the truth’.

Let us note for the sake of this exhibition that, through its direct contact with the outside reality, photography undergoes a reverse process, tyrannising and absorbing the world with images sourced from its own inspection of things.

The Captive Mind is a photographic portrait of a generation of artists who had to confront the reality of totalitarianism. Referring to Czesław Miłosz’s testimony and the historical-literary categories proposed by him, we try to construct a portrait of an era, illustrated by selected works by some of the period’s most outstanding photographers: Stefan Arczyński, Zdzisław Beksiński, Witold Dederko, Zbigniew Dłubak, Mariusz Hermanowicz, Jerzy Lewczyński, Krystyna Łyczywek, Marek Piasecki, Wojciech Plewiński, Zofia Rydet, Leonard Sempoliński, Andrzej Strumiłło, Tadeusz Sumiński who tried to do creative work, in the context of an ‘inner constraint’. The show opens with a prophetic prologue from Witkacy Insatiability in Józef Jan Głogowski’s photograph Narcotic Injection.

The exhibition aims also to place the phenomenon of the captive mind in the context of the present: to what extent is it history and to what a legacy, something we deal with every day?

Curators: Patrick Komorowski, Rafał Lewandowski

Co-organizers: Polish Institute in Rome


cooperation: Archeologia Fotografii
Museum of History in Sanok


Media Patronage:

Artinfo
Fotopolis
Foto

10.05.2011 18:51:10

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Marek Piasecki
Untitled
about 1960
2
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Jerzy Lewczyński
Unknown
1957
3
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Zofia Rydet
Obsessions II
1969-1979
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