exhibition

Mikołaj Sobczak
New Kingdom

Polana Institute

September 20–30, 2019

It's 1536 in the German town of Münster.  Executioners rip apart the exceptionally handsome prophet with red-hot tongs. All to the delight of the local prince-bishop, who may finally return to his city. The corpse of the man is exhibited in an iron basket hung high on the cathedral tower. The man humiliated by that most severe punishment was John Bockelson (John of Leiden), the prophet of the Anabaptists, the king of their commune in Münster, and previously an actor and pimp in Leiden. Today, he returns as a zombie to take revenge.

After the bloody massacre of 1535, some of his brothers and sisters managed to reach Poland – at that time one of the most tolerant countries in Europe. They came from Münster to Warsaw, where they founded the village of Saska Kępa. They brought with them the knotted willow (today a symbol of the local Mazovian landscape), a recipe for gouda cheese, and Delft tile painting. Centuries later, their descendants gave Poland Anna German, the icon of  Polish pop music in the 1960s and 1970s.

After analyzing contemporary populism and its mechanisms, John Bockelson's zombie decided to revive the ideals of his commune - “The New Kingdom”. Abolition of  private property and money, equality, and sexual revolution may sound like fantasy. However, these things are quite feasible in the realm of art.