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MOCAK Forum nr 2/2013 [7]

Freedom and Liberty, Nothing Else Matters

Sylwia Chutnik (b. 1979) – writer, culture expert, graduate of gender studies at the University of Warsaw. President of the MaMa Foundation. Author of books Kieszonkowy atlas kobiet (2008), Dzidzia (2009), Warszawa kobiet (2011), Proszę wejść (2012), Mama ma zawsze rację (2012) and Cwaniary (2012) and plays Muranooo (Dramatic Theatre, Warsaw) and Aleksandra (Dramatic Theatre, Wałbrzych). Winner of numerous awarads, including Polityka’s Passport 2008 in literature. Co-ordinates the Spółdzielnia Mam (Moms’ Co-operative) project. Member of the Porozumienie Kobiet 8 Marca. As a Warsaw city guide, she guides her own, original tours to present the stories of outstanding females.

1. That’s how I imagine it: every time I embark on the creative process, it’s as if I was conquering a castle. Clad in rusty armour, oblivious the blazing heat and itching skin, I gallop in directions no one understands. The helmet is creaking and I try to lift it up to take a look at the piece of paper, but I achieve nothing. So when I write, I have to grope my way ahead, from memory. Fingers all in blisters, me dressed up as a knight, madness.
In order to feel freedom in art, you need to fight for it – that’s how I see it when I contemplate a military picture in my armour. I wonder to what extent it springs from this Polish notion of hardship and toil that need to be overcome and to what degree from our own projections that no one really demands. Instead of just simply sitting down to write a book or standing in front of an easel, it seems you need to jostle your way through and poke your tongue at all the critics. Freedom that we fought for, that we had to earn, like a Cross of Merit. In this view, creation becomes an ordeal, a never-ending vigil in the name of values.
‘The sky is the limit’, this is what we think, hair blowing in the wind, once we finally manage to secure our own space. Well, not really. This is an idealistic vision. In practice, it is, of course, risky. It’s a challenge. There are some pre-defined limits that cannot be ignored: our talent, drive for expression and for sharing one’s own experience. You need to declare a battle against them. No armour, just bare hands.
That’s how I imagine it: we could do so much if only we wanted to. Not that we need to achieve all of these things, but just grasping the unlimited potential of what could make your heart skip a beat. A breathtaking horizon that seems to slip away whenever we try to approach it. So there is something behind it, you just need to reach out and grab it. Wonderful. With no fancy dress to restrict our movements, we grab everything that we want. No limits, until you choke. Dress it up in the form of freedom. We try to name this freedom or just drown in its whirlpool, without asking for its name. We just ‘dive into the occasion’: there is the canvas, there are we. And our strong feeling that this is our time, our chance. What follows immediately is us using this opportunity, ourselves, and the people who watch us.
There is, however, a question: how much of this freedom do we really want to grab? What if it makes us afraid? Will we run away towards the enchanted corners of cheap provocation or haughty exaltation? So many questions about freedom need to be asked: as artists, are we able to fully profit from the unlimited? Or are we afraid of the consequences freedom may have – the repercussions of unreserved strife for sincerity and exposing one’s guts for the whole world to see? And if we are afraid, what do we do with this and what does it do to our art? Freedom can make you afraid when you stand at the edge of an abyss in the mountains and can’t see a thing above you.
Sometimes this vision drives us and paralyses us at the same time. Our hands start to shake, and yet we struggle ahead, deeper into the dangerous corners of our imagination. That’s how I would like to imagine it: that we are indeed courageous in this freedom, that we keep walking, despite the risk.
Freedom in art, which on the one hand resists all censorship, and on the other lays bare the artist’s inner life, creates an unavoidable tension. Better to accept it than waste your energy on fighting this uncomfortable feeling. Artists encourage us to enter their world, letting us – the audience – to enjoy someone else’s freedom. Looking at a painting or an installation may become a game of sorts, a gift. It is up to us to decide if we want to use this foreign world and foreign freedom, or if we prefer to turn our back and just shrug: huh! anyone could do that. We may get inspired to search for our own freedom, according to our own rules. This is the best solution: to pass on independence.
This is how I wish it to be: we need to use this time, this moment when we create and when we can give 200 percent of our absolutely free, boundless story. Take this, all of you, and eat of it. Tonight it’s all on me, the whole party. And so: please join in, and have fun.

2. The present issue of ‘MOCAK Forum’ talks about broadly conceived freedom in visual arts, music, literature and science. It was inspired by the latest exhibition organised at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow – The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe Since 1945 (30th Council of Europe Exhibition) – which presents various forms of art catering to people’s need to be free. Our magazine refers to freedom in all its possible aspects and treats it as an indispensable value for any realization of artistic needs.
Patrycja Dołowy discusses the freedom of memory and the ways that art processes history. Elżbieta Korolczuk wonders if individualism may survive within the ‘basic social unit’, i.e. the Polish family of the emancipation era. Stanisław Bajtlik paints the landscape of the Universe and sciences that – as much as humanities – can talk about social change and independence in the face of dogmas.
We interviewed creators to ask them if choosing absolute freedom of own expression is worth it and whether the consequences of such a choice do not limit our options in life. In other words, is it worth staying true to one’s own beliefs?
We invited many outstanding artistic personalities to co-create this issue: Maria Peszek, Małgorzata Rejmer, we interviewed: Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot, Full Metal Jacket’s visual artists, Bodo Kox and Marcin Liver. The cover art was designed by Domika Olszowy and Tomasz Mróz, the educational insert by Alicja Rogalska, while the Dream Team artists created a comic story about freedom.
We adopted a broad approach to the issue of the right to the freedom of creation, contemplating the following questions: what is it that freedom gives us? Are we capable of using this freedom?
As usual, you will also have a chance to read essays on visual arts and browse the latest news from the Museum.

Please join us on this journey through the land of freedom. Freedom and liberty. For inspiration.