Words by Katarzyna Łyszkowska
December 6, 2020
During the second wave of the pandemic 2020, when there is a ban on gatherings, the government cynically announced the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal to tighten the abortion law in Poland, what placing it among the group of countries with the most stringent anti-abortion laws, worse than in Iran, Colombia or Pakistan. Women are objectified, depriving them of their right to self-determination. Polish women are forced to give birth to fetuses with even the most dramatic, severe and irreversible handicaps. This case affects me directly, and I don't condone it, so I'm protesting- Drawing Gonfalons.
I chose the form of gonfalon used in medieval procession because since October 22nd, Poland has been flooded with waves of daily women's marches because of aforementioned law decision which mentally retreating us back to Middle Ages.
The drawings are made on large sheets of paper hung on crossbars. I decorate the gonfalon tails with paper cut-out lace with paper fringes, in a sweetened kitschy, indulgent way. The drawings are paper banners showing the slogans of the Polish women's strike. They carry content for which I use redefined religious and secular symbols.
The first one is titled "I don't want to be a Kinder Surprise". It's a chocolate female figurine with a kinder egg insert. Her nipples are bitten by a blind eagle and a wild duck. The places of stigmata on the figure's hands are marked with bird droppings. I picture a situation when precise prenatal tests will no longer be done because they will be unreasonable when you have to give birth to a child regardless of its defects and deformities.
The second gonfalon raises the issue of imposing on women the obligation of a heroic attitude of a mother giving birth to a deformed child to bury it with dignity. This priority of protecting life conceived without reference to the dignity of the woman is cruelty and torture imposed by the Polish government, which does not fulfill the task of caring for its citizens. The government considers me incapable of making decisions on my own. The government is my torturer, which I cannot agree to. So I protest as best I can - drawing.
The second Gonfalon entitled "Heroism's my decision not your pressure" presents Wonder Women "Siedmiostrzelna" is the motif of Our Lady of Sorrows - holding a dress with the image of a fetus with all kinds of genetic lethal mutations. Analyzing these mutations, I was not able to draw them realistically. Therefore, the image of the child is drawn in a naive way, corresponding to the pious Gothic style. All disability names are Latin. The motif of the red lightning is a symbol of the Polish Women's Strike. It is drawn predatorily in anger at the current situation.
The government considers this red lightning motive to be a popularization of Nazi content. The government blames the striking women for the increase in COVID-19. The government doesn't see that it's his fault that people have come out to protest because they have no choice. The fear of COVID-19 is less than the loss of civil rights. The government intimidates women, sending on peacefully striking women inadequate to the situation anti-terrorist police brigades. And all of this is happening in Europe in the 21st century. I have an inner determination to expose it as much as possible. It is my civic duty to fight for my right.
About The Artist
Katarzyna Łyszkowska is a visual artist from Poland.
"My art seeks to explore the concept of intertwining individual and collective identity in the context of social and cultural phenomena. I touch upon individual stories and experiences as well as biographies and stories concerning entire communities. They affect our contemporary identity especially at that pandemic time and our perception of the future.
I select tools of expression to match the specificity of my works. I use broadly-understood drawing and illustration, sometimes art-installation, multimedia and social interactions to create art-puzzles that aim to reinterpret certain social mechanisms."
You can find more of her realizations here: