Mikołaj Sobczak

Polana Institute
Stanisława Noakowskiego 16/35
May 8–22, 2021

The latest series of paintings from Mikołaj Sobczak refers to Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and its on-canvas interpretations. Metamorphosis is one of the most significant cultural motifs – one that offers hope for lasting positive changes in our politics and social structures.

Mikołaj Sobczak's works are inspired by scenes from the public appearances and private lives of people who identify as non-normative genders and sexualities. The materials used in the composition collages come from 1960s American magazines ("Letters From Female Impersonators", "Vanguard", "Female Mimics"), where readers could send in their own photos of home cross-dressing sessions, drawings, letters and poems, sharing their experiences as well as make-up tips. In doing so, they took the first step toward promoting more lasting change. By making 'the private' public, they created a network of contacts that in turn allowed for more systemic, larger-scale actions.

The works are painted on plywood cut into a range of forms – symbols from activist pin badges handed out at protests, and photos from the activities of organizations fighting for human rights (mainly the rights of sexual and ethnic minorities). The standing wooden forms allude to theater in the Age of Enlightenment and the phenomenon of "living images". The heyday of "living images" took place at the end of the 18th century. Wooden sets were placed in gardens, and the actors, standing motionless, recreated compositions from the old masters' canvases

Exhibition view