A few hundred people took part in a protest against the profanation of the Cross in the exhibition in the Modern Art Centre in Warsaw Zamek Ujazdowski. In the opinion of the protest participants, the profanation was done in a film presented within the modern Polish and British Art presentation.

Those who have seen the film by Jacek Markiewicz ‘Adoration’, shown within the exhibition ‘British British – Polish Polish: art of the ends of Europe in the 90s and today’ know how drastic and iconoclastic it is. It shows a naked man, rubbing himself ambiguously against the figure of Jesus Christ nailed to the Cross.

– It is difficult to call this work an art. It is a blasphemy aimed against our faith and the sign of our redemption – Jan dziedziczak, the Parliamentarian of the Law and Justice party said during the protest. – The exhibition shows that the Catholics in Poland are discriminated. Do you imagine this kind of an exhibition which would slander believers of other religions?

Halina Łabonoarska, an author participating in the protest – as she says – she honestly stated that calling the author of the exhibition an artist is a big mistake. She said that he often saw staging in the theatre in which the Crucifix is profaned; in the West, Crucifixes are thrown away into rubbish, whereas the current situation – as she emphasized - is extraordinary.

‘It is a demoralizing, reprehensible, blameworthy and punishable fact that this blasphemous exposition has a continuous character and is organized by a state institution of culture which is the Modern Art Centre Zamek Ujazdowski, whose organizer is the minister appointed to protect culture and national heritage’ – as it was written in the letter to the culture and national heritage minister by the members of the Catholic Club named St. Wojciech.

Pseudo-art of shock

The exhibition was to confront the art of the turning point of the 80s and 90s in Poland and Great Britain. The main issues on which artists were concentrated were basic – as one can imagine – for people the issues – life and death, sex and violence, ethics and politics. Conclusions are not nice.

In the exhibition one can find out how Polish and British arts differed from each other. The only thing which was common for artists from both countries, was desire to achieve the international success – said the custodian of the exhibition, Marek Goździewski in programme 2. But another common thing was also the desire for shocking, sometimes at any rate. An example: installations of famous artists such as Katarzyna Kozyra, Dorota Nieznalska and Jacek Markiewicz.

Markiewicz belongs to the most controversial Polish pseudo-artists who took a fancy for shocking through pseudo-art. In the exhibition he presented films a few years ago, in which he is doing self-rape. Another time he took off his clothes, and suddenly he ‘became art’ in nakedness. Spectators could watch him in a darkened room. In order to develop his career as an artist, Markiewicz paid prostitutes: he exhibited them in galleries – like himself.

He prepared the ‘Adoration’, a diploma work, showing a scene of profanation of the Crucifix in the National Museum, using the Mediaeval Crucifix. – When I entered a church in Warsaw and saw people praying to the sculptured ‘alleged god’, I was shocked – he said, suggesting that he insulted only the ‘alleged god’ but through his art he prayed to real God.

Not art but blasphemy

Andrzej Mielak, a Warsaw Councilor of the Law and Justice party, appealing for reacting to the attacks on religious symbols, noted that such a behavior is accepted by the authorities of the Polish Republic. – Four years ago, in front of the Presidential Palace, the president Komorowski gave an order of arresting the Crucifix. Today we have its consequences – he said.

Another Councilor Maciej Wąsik, the former vice-president of the Central Anticorruption Bureau reminded that recently there has been a brutal action of removing by-road Crucifixes and monuments of road accident victims. The president of Warsaw called these Crucifixes ‘illegal installations’. There cannot be such a situation when the Crucifix is acceptable when it is profaned – said Wąsik. The Crucifix is still being attacked, there are fights for removing it from schools, the Sejm. It is a terrible reverse of values, to which we cannot agree. The good must be called good and the evil – evil.

The protest was transmitted by the Television Trwam in the programme ‘On the side of the Truth’. A reporter emphasized a statement of one of the protest participants. – If the same was done to the symbolism of Islam or Judaism, there would be a big turmoil all over the world. There would be executions – she said.

Halina Łabonarska referred to Norwid’s words in one of poems saying that the Crucifix is a gate and road to Redemption. – John Paul II told us to defend the Crucifix and he said: because Poland stretches from the Crucifix at Giewont to the Crucifix in Gdańsk – said Halina Łabonarska. – We are Poland and we cannot allow for any profanations like that in our country.

With full deliberation

The protest in front of Zamek Ujazdowski, which was accompanied by the common prayer for respecting the Crucifix in Poland, was a culminating point of protests against profanation of the Crucificx in the Modern Art Centre. Earlier protesting letters, statements and appeals in this issue were submitted by among the others, the Catholic Association ‘Civitas Christiana’, the Parliamentary Team for Counteracting Atheism Implementation in Poland, and also members and fans of the Light-Life Movement and the Catholic Action and the Catholic Club of St.Wojciech. The members of the last one wrote in their statement that ‘this blasphemous profanation of the Crucifix, done with full deliberation, is a disgusting insult and slander for all believers in Jesus Christ and His Redemptive Passion’.

The director of the Modern Art Centre acknowledged the blasphemous film as a historical work. It was stated so by, the deputy director of the Centre Joanna Szwajcowska in an interview with journalists. – We are surprised by the protests because it is the issue from before 20 years – she said. – Today’s reality, democratic country allow artists, art and culture institutions for functioning in a sphere of freedom, not restricting in the freedom of speech.

What is the opinion on this kind of freedom? - this question was asked by the authors of a notice to prosecutors, among the others, Anna Sobecka, Stanisław Pięta, the former education vice-minister Mirosław Orzechowski, the Nationwide Committee for Protection from Sects and Violence as well as Solidary 2010. As Stanisław Pięta said, profanation of the symbol which is holiest for the Christians is a breach of the art. 196 of the criminal code.

It is a continued profanation of the Crucifix which started in Krakowskie Przedmieście – the parliamentarian Sobecka emphasizes. – We must act with any possible ways. We are not going to agree on attacking the Catholics in Poland, and budget means can be spent on a better purpose.

Italian cleaning

On a day after the protest, we were trying to find out in the Modern Art Centre whether the film would be removed from the program of the exhibition in terms of the demands of the Catholic groups. – It has not been decided yet – we heard from Zofia Chojnacka from the press bureau of the Modern Art Centre. The workers of the Modern Art Centre have different opinions in this issue, as well as the opinion of the director of the institution, an Italian Fabio Cavallucci.

Unionists from Solidarity accuse the Italian of wasting public money, being bossy, organizational chaos and breaching the work code. The chief of Solidarity in the Modern Art Centre, Janusz Byszewski thinks that an important sin of neglect from the director is also the issue of program council of the Modern Art Centre, which has not been established by Cavallucci yet.

The director’s term of office finishes next year, but it is already a few months when unionists have been expressing their request to the culture minister for dismissing Cavallucci before the end of his cadency. The minister Bogdan Zdrojewski announced that he would make a decision about the situation in the Modern Art Centre till the end of October. But he has not made any decision yet till the end of the last week.


"Niedziela" 46/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: