Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. Re-enchanting the World
29.04 – 23.07.2023 Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. Re-enchanting the World
curators: Wojciech Szymański, Joanna Warsza
exhibition producers at Zachęta: Dominika Kaszewska, Michał Kubiak
exhibition production at the Polish Pavilion in Venice: Ewa Mielczarek, Joanna Waśko (Venice Biennale Polish Pavilion Office)
collaboration on the creation of the works: Halina Bednarz, Małgorzata Brońska, Stanisława Mirga
For the first time in the more than 120-year history of the Venice Biennale, a national pavilion was represented by a Roma artist. Re-enchanting the World is Małgorzata Mirga-Tas’s manifesto on Roma identity and art, drawing inspiration from the astrological frescos of the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara. Before us is a ‘picture palace’, an installation consisting of twelve large-format textiles, corresponding to the twelve calendar months. The exhibition is an attempt to expand the history of art with representations of the culture of the Roma, the largest European minority.
According to art historian Aby Warburg, the Palazzo Schifanoia frescoes are an example of the ‘afterlife’ of images (Nachleben) — a sudden appearance of certain images in a specific place and time after a long absence. The zodiac signs, the decan system, allegories of months, cyclicity and the migration of symbols across time and continents — between India, Persia, Asia Minor, ancient Greece, Egypt and Europe — become visual and ideological points of reference for Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. The artist inscribes them in a specific Polish-Roma vernacular historical experience.
The upper section depicts the history of Roma wanderings across Europe, in reference to the engravings of Jacques Callot, an engraver from the Duchy of Lorraine. Created in the 17th century, the engravings are full of anti-Roma stereotypes. The artist will disenchant this hurtful narrative and draws on historical works to create her own large-scale collages showing the rich world of Roma past and mythology.
The middle section is an archive of Roma history, built from a female perspective. In recent years, Mirga-Tas has created a number of works dedicated to the important women in her life, which make up the Herstories series. Portraits of representatives of the Roma community will be complemented by symbols borrowed from tarot cards and zodiac signs from Palazzo Schifanoia. Combining images of real women with magic and astrology will transform them into symbolic guardians of fate, goddesses and prophetesses.
The lower section consists of twelve paintings depicting contemporary everyday life in the artist’s home village, Czarna Góra, and in the areas she is most strongly connected with — Podhale, located in the south of Małopolska, and the multicultural Spisz. They mainly show women, their relationships, alliances and activities performed together.
The exhibition Re-enchanting the World is based on the idea of transnationality, cyclicality and the change of appropriated meanings, proposing a new narrative about the constant cultural migration of images and mutual influences between Roma, Polish and European cultures. Małgorzata Mirga-Tas uses representations from the Palazzo Schifanoia but transforms key motifs from European art history by inserting representations of Polish-Roma culture and reversing the stereotypical narrative.
The eponymous ‘re-enchantment’, inspired by Silvia Federici’s book Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons (2019), is a non-violent process to change the world’s unpromising fortunes, lift the evil spell from the world and help regain a sense of community and rebuild relationships with others.
Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, a Polish-Roma artist and activist. In her works, she deals with issues of anti-Roma stereotypes, building an affirmative iconography of Roma communities. She graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow (2004). Her works have been presented at many solo and group exhibitions, including the 14th Gwangju Biennale (2023), at Göteborgs Konsthall (2023), at the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice (2022), at documenta15 in Kassel (2022), at the International Cultural Centre in Krakow (2022), and the Guangzhou Triennale in China (2022), the 11th Berlin Biennale (2020), Biennale Art Encounters in Timișoara (2019, 2021), the 3rd Autostrada Biennale in Prizren (2021), at the Moravian Gallery in Brno (2017), at the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko (2020), the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2020) and at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne (2021). She lives and works in the village of Czarna Góra in the Spisz region.
Wojciech Szymański, art historian and critic, independent curator, co-curator of the Polish Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice. Adjunct at the Institute of Art History of the University of Warsaw, author of several dozens of academic articles, editor and author of books and exhibition catalogues, manager and participant of numerous Polish and international research projects, since 2019 editor of the Ikonotheka annual. He has curated dozens of exhibitions in Poland and abroad; for many years he has specialised in contemporary Roma art and its circulation in the global art world. Together with Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, he has realised the exhibitions Kali Berga (Krakow 2,016; Berlin, 2017), Right to Look (Krakow, 2018), 29. Exercises in Ceroplastics (Orońsko, 2020), Out of Egypt (Białystok, 2021). He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics AICA. He lives in Krakow.
Joanna Warsza, programme director of CuratorLab curatorial studies at Konstfack University in Stockholm and independent curator. Co-curator of the Polish Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice. Together with Övül Ö. Durmusoglu, Die Balkone in Berlin, 3rd and 4th Autostrada Biennale in Kosovo and the Survival Kit festival in Riga. Previously artistic director of Public Art Munich 2018, curator of the Georgia pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice, the Gothenburg Biennale, the Public Programme at Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, and co-curator, at the invitation of Artur Żmijewski, of the 7th Berlin Biennale. Editor of numerous publications including Red Love: A Reader on Alexandra Kollontai (with Maria Lind and Michele Masucci; 2020), and And Warren Niesłuchowski Was There: Ontological Nomad, Guest, Host, Ghost (with Sina Najafi; published by Cabinet Books and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2020). Originally from Warsaw, she lives in Berlin.
Artist's works in the Zachęta collection
04.07 (Tue) 18:45Re-enchantment – Roma communities in Poland at the interface of migration and artA screening of Anna Zakrzewska's film and a conversation with Małgorzata Mirga-Tas and Joanna WarszaZachęta | Cinema Room - entrance from the ticket officeZachęta | Cinema Room - entrance from the ticket office
Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. Re-enchanting the World
29.04 – 23.07.2023
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.