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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 26, 2010
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Artists and Opposition to Martial Law
August 26, 2010   
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A painting of former Polish communist dictator Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski smoking pot is one of the more provocative items at an exhibition at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art that focuses on how people reacted to the martial law period in Poland in the 1980s.

What was expressed artistically back then comes out as an anarchic opposition to an inflexible and unyielding system. All the up-and-coming generation saw when Jaruzelski declared martial law on Dec. 13, 1981 and brought his tanks out on to the streets was the wheels coming off a system beyond repair that offered nothing for the future. A whole new samizdat subculture sprang up in response to the closing of cinemas, theaters and art galleries. Concerts were taped and the cassettes copied and circulated, fanzines were founded, subversive graffiti defaced city walls, and even clothing and hairstyles began to take on a rebellious streak.

The exhibition showcases the work of almost 30 artists who tried to redraw the boundaries of art during the 1980s in opposition to the prevailing martial law zeitgeist. Mirosław Bałka, Zbigniew Libera, Józef Robakowski and Jarosław Modzelewski are all represented. The exhibition features paintings, photos, sculptures, patterns, pamphlets, films and bootleg concert recordings.

The exhibition at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, called “I Could Live in Africa,” takes its name from a film by Dutch director Jacques de Koning, who came to Poland at the end of the martial law period.

Open until Sept. 20
Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, 3 Pańska St., Warsaw
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