Sunday, 15 June 2014


Last week artist Zbigniew Libera (b. 1959) came to speak at Warsaw's MoMA for the opening of his work's free online archive. The enfant terrible of the Polish art world is known primarily for the controversies around his Lego concentration camp, and while photos of his work appeared on a large screen Libera spoke evasively about his time in prison in the early 80s (he'd been set up) and how he'd never decided to be an artist (the art world made him into one).

Curiously, none of these photos made it onto the screen during his talk. I unearthed them only after digging deep into the archives (have you ever used 'sexual organ' as a search term on a museum website?). 

Libera-Furniture Piece, 1985

Mannequins, 1985

They are Libera par excellence, combining unabashed exposure with a schoolboyish sense of 'wasn't-me'. The sun glasses, the little crochet napkin and the mannequin seemingly grabbing him all point to the same conclusion: The artist won't take responsibility for anything, not even his penis. Clearly then, neither should we. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Eastern Boys Do It Best

Imagine you're in your flat. You put on a clean polo shirt and tie up the laces of your sneakers and wait for your rent boy to arrive. Then the bell rings. But it's not your date who pushes his way in.

It's his posse. The gang of Eastern European Boys - Russian, Moldovian, the Ukrainian - who hang out by the Gare du Nord and are up to no good. Not when it comes to you, or your appartment.

This is the beginning of "Eastern Boys", a 2013 feature film by Robin Campillo. I had been intrigued to see why Warsaw's rather conservative Kino Kultura was showing a film with homosexual content. Ten minutes in it was clear this was not a romance or a happy exploration of sexuality, but a gritty piece about exploitation and belonging in French society. 

It was therefore not surprising to find out afterwards that Robin Campillo worked on the excellent "The Class", a film about a school teacher in a deprived Paris suburb, that won the Palme d'Or in 2008.

The Class (2008) trailer

What is surprising, is the direction that "Eastern Boys" takes: An unusual relationship ends up developing between middle-aged Frenchman Daniel and streetboy Marek a.k.a. Ruslan, while prejudice and desire for truth become the spirals of the plot. And it will test your endurance. "Eastern Boys" knows how to keep you on your sneakered toes.

"Eastern Boys", Robin Campillo, 2013