Miners' Kiss, Lover and Iwaszkiewicz

two tapestries 120x90 and 160x110 cm, documentation of performance, Katowice, PL, 2020
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Untitled, photography 80x60cm, 2020

Miner's Kiss, Lover and Iwaszkiewicz are two tapestries. The first portrays an anonymous miner seen from the front, with a mining lamp. The second features two kissing miners, whose mining lamps fixed to their hard hats emit luminous colour prisms. The two figures are positioned upside down to each other, as if one of them was still underground or represented a face card. They are not wearing a parade uniform, but drill workwear.

The performance, its documentation and accompanying photographs were created in Katowice. Other photographs were taken in the interiors of the Katowice – City of Gardens Gallery guest rooms, where I stayed and worked on the project. In the 1970s and 1980s, those rooms offered accommodation for artists who performed for dignitaries.  

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Untitled,  sketches A3 size each
Sketches for tapestires.
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Miner's Kiss,  detail

In 1978, a popular non-heteronormative Polish poet was given the Honorary Miner title, along with the miners’ parade uniform. The event took place during the 20th General Convention of the Polish Writers’ Union at the Ministry of Mines in Katowice. More than 40 years later, artist Przemek Branas created a series of works largely inspired by those events. Branas was interested in the many layers of the story, as well as the opinions and beliefs that grew around it. Iwaszkiewicz: writer, poet and Honorary Miner of the People’s Republic of Poland. Branas levels those professions, presenting them as equally important and coherent in their basic purpose, which is ‘providing fuel’ in both a literal and metaphorical sense. His homoerotic imagery shatters the myth of miners being the epitome of machismo and icons of narrowly-understood, brash masculinity.

Branas’s work is made of several elements. First, he created pieces of fabric, serving as banners of sorts, on which miners’ emblems clash with unexpected accessories and gestures. When creating portraits on those banners, the artist drew inspiration from depictions of the young Iwaszkiewicz. The next layer was made of performative action, filmed and photographed so that the documentation could later be displayed along with the series. The project was carried out in Katowice. Iwaszkiewicz left the city with his new parade uniform, in which he was later buried. This raises the questions: Where is the line between the private and public? What is the body in relation to what it’s dressed in? What if we wrap the body in a banner?


 

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Untitled, photography 100x70cm, 2020
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Screens from video, 5K, 01'37'', 2020
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Untitled, photograps 40x30cm each, 2020

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