In October 2016, Pope.L, one of the most important contemporary artists in the United States, produced in Warsaw a film spot made especially for the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and starring the actor Mirosław Zbrojewicz and members of the Museum public.
Titled PLAMA (in English THE SPOT), the spot is an intervention that undertakes the theme of anger and conflict, and the socioeconomic alienation of an individual, which manifests itself in the current crisis of attitudes towards the war refugees. The spot is a gift to the people of Poland from an African American.
The artist wishes the spot to serve as a viral social campaign, engaging those who ready to defend the human rights and the values of the open society.
Poland faces an immensely challenging cultural phenomenon. The most open and vital component of the society, Poles between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, today express negative opinions towards the acceptance of refugees from war-torn regions outside Europe (78% of this age group*). The majority of Polish society displays openly negative attitudes towards the acceptance of refugees from the Middle East and Africa: only 4% of Poles express their full support and conviction that Poland should accept and allow the permanent settlement of refugees from these regions. If only 1–19% of society claims to know someone of Muslim origin, what are then the reasons behind the adoption of a radically unhumanitarian position?
During the tough and economically impoverished postwar years’1948–1950, Poland accepted close to 12,000 refugees from civil-war torn Greece and Macedonia. Thousands of Chechen refugees were welcomed after the recent conflicts in the Caucasus. Today demonizing and dramatizing the issue of Muslim refugees of war only serves to turn society’s attention from the real problem: the fear of this generation (and not only), facing the challenge of living in precarity; balancing on the edge of becoming an economic refugee in their own country.
(born 1955) is an American visual and performance artist and educator whose work investigates preconceived notions embedded within contemporary culture, and tests the rigidity of false categories. He is considered one of the most important and influential contemporary artists in the U.S. He is perhaps best known for his provocative performances, such as "Eating The Wall Street Journal" or "ATM Piece", and his decades-long series of crawls across New York City, commemorated in eRacism, a retrospective which showed at several prominent museums and galleries. His "Black Factory" project toured the East Coast and the Midwest. "Pull!", a durational city-wide community performance piece, engaged hundreds of residents of Cleveland, Ohio, to manually pull a truck for 25 miles as a testament to the power of shared labor.
He is the recipient of many prestigious grants and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA fellowships, and the USA Fellowship in Visual Arts. He was most recently the focus of a solo exhibition “Trinket” at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2015). His work has been exhibited and performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Whitney Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, Cambridge; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; New Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Renaissance Society in Chicago, among many others. Pope.L has participated in the seminal exhibitions devoted to performance in visual arts: “Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art” at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston/Studio Museum of Harlem, New York (2013), and in “Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object 1949-1979” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998).
Pope.L is an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. Before coming to the University of Chicago, Pope.L was Lecturer of Theater and Rhetoric at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, NJ.
*Statistical data drawn from the CBOS study, “Stosunek do przyjmowania uchodźców w Polsce i w Czechach” [Attitudes towards the acceptance of refugees in Poland and Czech Republic], March 2016.
PLAMA (THE SPOT)
Actor: Mirosław Zbrojewicz
Voice: Joanna Drozda
Set manager and Assistant to the Director: Michał Michałowski
DOP: Mikołaj Syguda
Camera Assistant: Przemysław Twardecki
Grip: Edwin Wolski
Set designer: Dorota Boruń
Flag: Łukasz Szeniman
Gafer: Michał Obłoza
Gafer’s assistant: Maciej Obłoza
Sound on set: Grzegorz Kucharski
Microphones: Bernard Sierakowski
Make up artist: Agnieszka Kozłowska
Production: Natalia Sielewicz and Monika Szczukowska
Curator of the project: Monika Szczukowska
Assistants to the Director: Danny Volk, Lorenzo Conte, David Lloyd
Collaboration: Katarzyna Białach, Marta Dziewańska, Marcel Andino Velez
Postproduction: LocoMotive Studio
Editing: Ireneusz Grzyb
Online: Łukasz Omasta
Color grading: Jacek Bulik
Sound design: Jacek Dżeksong Onaszkiewicz
Thanks to: Anna Molska and Mateusz Adamczyk, Anna Dragun, Kamerra.pl, LuksFilm, Pin Up Studio, Shoku, Eliza Oczkowska
Audience: Jakub Antosz, Marita Cieślińska, Edyta Jarząb, Jaśmina Kasenko, Karolina Kłaczyńska, Agnieszka Kozłowska, Kamil Kryk, Magda Lipska, Nina Panchenko, Aneta Stańska,Tessa Was, Arletta Wojtala, Artur Zapałowski