“Museum objects are pieces of movable and immovable property owned by the museum and entered into the inventory of museum objects”. These words, taken from the Act on museums, aptly indicate the traditional way in which institutional collections are understood. In addition to the necessity to record them in inventory books, their basis is their material nature – these are usually tangible artefacts, whose parameters such as dimensions or the raw materials used, may be determined objectively. By their nature, they may also be subjected to various attempts at archiving, including digitization – they may have been accurately photographed or scanned, presented as a three-dimensional model. However, what about the less material forms, which break out of the above-mentioned statutory definition?
In traditional culture, serpents represent a threatening and powerful symbol of the primal cosmic forces; they are representatives of chaos and death. They were often also the object of worship: for ancient Egyptians they symbolized the power of wielding life and death, decorating the crown of the pharaohs; the Greeks considered them to be the embodiment of the chthonic gods, and because of their annual skin moulting, they added them as an attribute to Asclepios, as a symbol of life, health, and rebirth. The Romans bred snakes in their homes, seeing them as the guardians of their home and family; The Aztecs made a feathered serpent — Quetzalcoatl — a co-creator of the world, the god of wind and earth. The primal cult of serpents also flourished in regions closer to us: for example, in the Krakowiak tribe from the right bank of the Wisła. The Judeo-Christian culture judged serpents rather negatively: in the story of Adam and Eve, they became cursed creatures; the Old Testament God sent them as a punishment to the Israelites, and then, through Moses, sent a serpent to their rescue, but one made of copper.
The performance On Invisible by the Czech collective Rafani, was staged simultaneously in one of the exhibition halls of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery and in the urban space. In the gallery spaces, it was witnessed by people who intentionally arrived at the event; these witnesses, however, met only the lecturer, a poet from Kraków, and the slammer, Jan Paweł Kowalewicz (a.k.a. Roman Boryczko), connected using the telephone conference method with five performers.
Jan Hoeft initiated an artistic intervention taking place on the border of visibility: in the middle of a vast lawn in Kraków’s Błonia Park, he placed a ten-metre-long sculpture, made of stainless steel, deliberately resembling a scaled-up barrier (easily restored if necessary). Over its frame, a white and red scarf was slung, reminiscent of the colours sported by the fans of the nearby football clubs, Cracovia and Wisła. In place of the club’s name, a phone number was embroidered, the use of which resulted in drawing the caller into a remote performance, following the scenario prepared by the artist.
Her work, Wyliczanki (Counting-out Games), consists of three objects – costumes. Each consists of a skirt and a braid. Wide, embroidered skirts, with a circular pattern, inspired by Polish folklore, refer to the character and colours of festive folk costumes. They are made of combined, contrasting materials, with sewn-on patterns of contemporary silhouettes, which the artist juxtaposed with embroidered texts known from children’s plays or songs, such as: Moja Ulijanko, klęknij na kolanko [Little Ula, take a knee], Mam chusteczkę haftowaną [I’ve got an embroidered hankie], Chodzi lisek koło drogi [There’s a little fox strolling along the road side]. The colourful braids, made of old clothes, are long and thick, and therefore also heavy and uncomfortable to wear. The artist called them “cultural braids”, thus suggesting that they function as something artificial, attached.