1 Tomek Kitliński

Maria Janion’s Counter-art of Women’s Archives

Has the exhibition become an archive of women’s archives: the archives of Maria Janion, the archives of Zofia Kulik, the archives of Ewa Kuryluk, the archives of ... (the ellipsis represents the creators of the archives - absent, excluded, judged)? Archives are secrets of existence locked in the secrets of images and texts. They are the art of girls - the secret places they create, the khora - non-placeable places filled with the symbolic.

Archives are meanings, senses and sensualities of closets, drawers, arks, both real and virtual, visual and written, thought up and written down, spoken and silenced. There is an acute lack of alterity and hospitALTERity in . Against this backdrop, Maria Janion is seeking, in writing and action, to overcome and “preserve the absence” by creating archives of textualities of love, which is to say the diversity of life. She writes: “Polish was a great discovery of alterity”1. Maria Janion’s work is a great discovery of the love of the other, of alterity, and of the alterity-otherness of love. It is a work of hospitALTERity.

These are archives of ideas and bodies, and the bodies and ideas of archives. The archive, the khora, the symbolic, trace, absence, hospitality - these are the ideas of Maria Janion, of the gays Socrates and Plato, of Diotima, Bathsheba, Derrida, Kristeva, Sara Wilson. The latter interprets Zofia Kulik’s archives in her essay “Discovering the Psyche: Zofia Kulik”2. I experience the archives of bodysouls in the archives-sculptures by Alina Szapocznikow, the archives-Humanitarian Cases by Alicja Żebrowska, the archives-blood of Bogna Burska.

1 Maria Janion, foreword to Inna-Inny-Inne. O inności w kulturze, eds. Maria Janion, , Claudia Snochowska-Gonzalez (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2004), 9. 2 Sarah Wilson, “Discovering the Psyche: Zofia Kulik”, in: in Zofia Kulik, From Siberia to Cyberia, ed. Piotr Piotrowski (Poznan: National Museum, 1999) 2 The archive is polyphony, a process, an openness, infinity. Maria Janion’s Transgressions3 and Jolanta Brach-Czaina’s Slits of Existence4 can be filed as archives, both in terms of their form and content, of Mavericks, Persons; Galley Slaves to Sensibility; Scuttlings; Tea Towels; Openings; the Metaphysics of Meat; Cherries and insights. There are the archives of Suka (Bitch) and Pasja (Passion), archiving the art-revolt of Dorota Nieznalska5. There is an ongoing fever of archives, a “romantic fever”. We do not cease to feverishly seek-arrange-destroy-create archives. This is not arranging ready-mades: the archives are within us.

The philosophy of Maria Janion is the creativity-creation of archives against evil. These archives house subjectivity freed from identity; the homely strangeness at the intersection of grand and small narratives; the Gothicism of the present and the past; the hope in tradition and popular culture. In Janion’s philosophy, the subject and the experience remain central ideas. With the question “Will you know what you experienced?” which she poses in the title of her 1995 book, Janion returns to the category of experience in the times of postmodernism, a trend which in her opinion “questioned the notion of ‘the hermeneutic personality’”6. Unlike in postmodernism, the subject figures prominently in Maria Janion’s philosophical project. Janion’s humanities are of the understanding kind; in her works she is guided by the Diltheyan process of Verstehen, incorporating a Freudian interpretation, explanation, clarification (Deutung). Hence her openness to historicism, feminism, alterity and minority studies, and the humanist science of the soul - psychoanalysis.

3 Series of anthologies: Maria Janion, Sławomir Rosiek (eds), Transgresje. Galernicy wrażliwości (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1981); Maria Janion, Zbigniew Majchrowski (eds), Odmieńcy (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1982); Maria Janion, S. Rosiek (eds), Osoby (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1984); Maria Janion, Sławomir Rosiek (eds), Maski (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1986); Maria Janion, Stefan Chwin (eds), Dzieci, vols. 1 and 2 (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1988). 4 Jolanta Brach-Czaina, Szczeliny istnienia (Warszawa, 1992). 5 Paweł Leszkowicz, essay for the catalogue of Dorota Nieznalska’s exhibition Suka (Gdańsk, 2002); Paweł Leszkowicz, “Niebezpieczne związki z męskim ciałem. Sztuka Doroty Nieznalskiej”, Res Publica Nova 168 (2002). On the art of men and women in Poland, see Paweł Leszkowicz, “Płeć sztuki polskiej”, Magazyn Sztuki 2(22), 1999 and “W stronę demokratycznej sfery publicznej. Motywy homoseksualne we współczesnej sztuce polskiej”, in Sztuka dzisiaj. Materiały Sesji Stowarzyszenia Historyków Sztuki, ed. Maria Poprzęcka (, 2002). 6 See Maria Janion, Czy będziesz wiedział, co przeżyłeś (Warsaw: Sic!, 1995); Maria Janion and Maria Żmigrodzka, Odyseja wychowania. Goetheańska wizja człowieka w “Latach nauki i latach wędrówki Wilhelma Meistra” (Kraków: Aureus, 1998). 3 Martha C. Nussbaum replies: “Humanities are knowledge and pedagogy oriented at enriching life, not limiting it”7. This is humanism after anti-humanism, conscious of the unconscious, of destructive drives, the dangers of chauvinisms, the disrespect to otherness and alterity, the closing of the humanist canon. Opening up to others bestows an ethical dimension on humanism. Maria Janion begins begin with the experience of text, including classical texts of humanities. Their reading is pluralist, Midrash-like (like that of Geoffrey Hartman, who arrived at a multi-vocal reading of Judaism through an interpretation of Romanticism), intertextual, open; it provides the basis for extending the inner space of the subject. Moving away from the closed model of the self-same subject, they point towards a subjective plurality-in-unity while not abandoning the notion of the subject in a poststructuralist fashion. Janion combines humanism as self-reflection with a proposed ethics of multicultural subjectivity, cosmopolitanism, a reaching out to alterity. Maria Janion finds the Gothic form to be a reaction to evil, from “the Opinogóra Gothicism” she notes in Zygmunt Krasiński. Debiut i dojrzałość8, to the Gothic form of Witold Gombrowicz9 and essays on Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James and Paul Auster10. The Gothic form could possibly be viewed as a step towards the open form, more capacious, at the borderlands between philosophy and literature. Maria Janion does not observe a strict separation between philosophy and literature in her essays, veering neither into full fiction mode nor scientific jargon, giving in neither to scientism nor to the temptation of writing literature.

Suspended between art and science, rationality and irrationality, Maria Janion’s work resembles Gothicism, which fuses marvels and cogitations, investigative reasoning and irrational intuitions. Gothicism is the abject, the excess, the Sublime, the crisis. No wonder, therefore, that it is currently making a return - or, as Maria Janion would have it, we are witnessing not so much a rehabilitation or resuscitation of Gothicism as its constant presence in culture. A permanent presence in modern European consciousness, its inherent and necessary constituent, can hardly be rehabilitated - this is the final sentence of her book Romanticism . Revolution . Marxism 11.

7 Paweł Leszkowicz quotes this sentence by Martha C. Nussbaum in his article “Multi-historie sztuki”, part of the debate “Źródła i inspiracje postmodernizmu”, ed. Alina Motycka, Zagadnienia Naukoznawstwa, vol. 2(148) (2001), 320. 8 Maria Janion, Zygmunt Krasiński. Debiut i dojrzałość (Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna, 1962). 9 Maria Janion, “Forma gotycka Gombrowicza”, in: Maria Janion, Gorączka romantyczna (Warsaw, 1975). 10 Essays collected in Maria Janion, Żyjąc tracimy życie. Niepokojące tematy egzystencji (Warsaw: W.A.B, 2001) 11 Maria Janion, Romantyzm, rewolucja, marksizm. Colloquia gdańskie (Gdańsk, 1972). 4

Homosexuality, which is love, has traditionally been verbalized by silence: this is the conclusion of Jonathan David Katz’s investigations of the work of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns12. Behind that silence is the Sublime, and the Sublime goes back to Sappho’s poetry. Sappho’s sorrow is parallel to that of Juliusz Słowacki’s. Słowacki’s “soft” personality created visions of a sadomasochistic Gothicism. Gothicism unveils the gory secret, the unspeakable crime. It uncovers the skeleton in the closet. Gothicism was created by Edgar Allan Poe, that Other of American literature; the Other of , Słowacki, created a frenetic, sublime, sadomasochistic Gothicism; a national sadomasochism13. Snakes, blood, graves, caskets - this is Słowacki’s Poland. Is there a Polish homo-textuality? Is homosexuality in Poland outside the law and the text? Is a love oriented at the same sex devoid of text?

Nurturing of the inner subjectivity, mystery, Gothicism, the Sublime, the ballad, the pan- musicality, pan-sexuality and pan-emotionality of sound and meaning: any and all of these are present in the writings of Słowacki, Żmichowska, Czechowicz, Gombrowicz, Białoszewski, Filipiak; if there is homotextuality, it is here. The voice and silence of Józef Czechowicz’s poetry and drama tells me the story of alterity, of otherness - homely yet rejected. Textuality of a (and in the) minority, homosexuality is love.

Gothicism with a good measure of melancholia and a touch of mania is Juliusz’s element, with some sadomasochism, disgust, the abject; the horror, the horror. Gothicism brings out another feature of Maria Janion’s philosophy of the humanities: the opening up of humanist scholarship to the culture known as low. It was low culture which gave a voice to minorities: women, ethnic and national minorities, the Other. How do we tell other stories? How do we weave narratives in a different way? Maria Janion’s interpretation of the art of interpretation consists both in an acceptance and a rejection of hermeneutics. In a recent book, she levels grave charges at hermeneutics. Janion is not merely adding her contribution to the Heidegger-Gadamer debate, but commenting on a more general issue to spell out that hermeneutics fails in the face of evil, in the face of the Shoah. The literary

12 Jonathan David Katz, Essays. www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/KatzPages. 13 On sadomasochism see Joe Lockard, Tomasz Kitliński, “Sex Slavery and Queer Resistance in Eastern Europe”, Bad Subjects. Political Education for Everyday Life, 69 (2004); Tomasz Kitliński, “Z naszego sadomasochizmu. U nas w Lublinie/Dublinie: między boskim Markizem a Freiherrem von Sacher-Masochem”, Teksty Drugie 5(77) (2002), 141- 149. 5 journal “bRULION” wrote that, faced with evil, all Maria Janion can resort to is erudition. Hermeneutics cannot even resort to erudition in the face of evil; it remains silent, lost for words. This is not a post-traumatic aphasia, or Adorno’s poetry impossible after Auschwitz, or an analytical silence.

Maria Janion researched anti-Semitism since her monograph Zygmunt Krasiński. Debiut i dojrzałość, against the grain of Eastern European attitudes: no mourning has taken place in Eastern Europe; the intergenerational haunting goes on. Derrida’s Mal d’Archive is situated at the very heart of twentieth-century evil, malaise, fever. Griselda Pollock warns against an “archive of photographs which appear to be a historical document but are in fact a fascist distortion of memory. They contain the unmourned loss of Jews and others exterminated in death camps for their sexual orientation, ethnicity, political beliefs. It is often believed that the very reproduction of the images of people led to the slaughter, starved to death, thrown into mass graves duplicates their death, the orphic gaze that kills again. Faced with the horror, those represented too easily become the abject”14. How do we represent the Shoah? Might Maria Janion’s archives be a way of so doing?

The archives of women are those of Zofia Kulik, Alicja Żebrowska, Katarzyna Kozyra, Dorota Nieznalska. The archives of men are the non-masculine, unmanly archives of Dariusz Korol, with his defenseless images made with fire, cinders and dust; an archive of the disappearance of images. Dariusz Fodczuk unclothes-clothes himself and others in his performance; in his installation he picks at and heals wounds as an archive of his private mythology. Tomasz Kozak satirizes totalitarian masculinity. The masculinity of Hitler is ludicrous: on all fours, Hitler’s sexuality is brought to the floor. Was that the masculinity with which he pulled gays, women and heterosexual men? Is that the übermale, lord of lords, superstud, arch-macho? Camp Nazis, wearing helmets and nail polish, striking sexy poses - this is Tomasz Kozak’s archive of images. There is a fever of archives of the evil perpetrated on women in Poland; archives of subjectivity, festering wounds of memory15. The exhibition has texts, images, music, theater, the everyday filling and spilling out of archives, for archives constitute and sustain subjectivity. There is a skeleton in the closet: it is a family secret (the skeleton in the closet of Polish culture), a crime against women.

14 Griselda Pollock, “Abandoned at the Mouth of Hell or a Second Look that Does Not Kill: the Uncanny Coming to Matrixial Memory”, in Griselda Pollock, Looking Back to the Future. Essays on Art, Life and Death (Routledge: Amsterdam, 2001), 165. 15 Maria Janion, Kobiety i duch inności (Warsaw: Sic!, 1996). 6 Women’s archives are invisible in the public space; they are archives - exiles, the exiled archives of an exile; archives - strangeness; “Cudzoziemki” (Foreign Women); archives of attempts at an ethics of cosmopolitanism, of Internationales of women: Pythagoreans, Cynics, Beguins, Izabela Czartoryska, Rosa Luxemburg, Maria Kuncewiczowa, Ewa Kuryluk, Kazimiera Szczuka and her manifas - Women’s Day demos.

“Democracy in Poland is gendered masculine,”16 Maria Janion notes. Femininity and homosexuality are Poland’s tribal taboos. Unde malum must be developed as “What is the source of the hatred towards women and gays?”. We, Polish gays and women, are not subjects but objects, or even the abject. Our lot is abjectification rather than subjectivity; in Julia Kristeva’s description, ni sujet, ni objet - l’abjet: the abject - neither the subject nor the object. I believe we are not only witnesses but accomplices in the evil of Eastern European xenophobia, the contemporary abject; in , gender or class prejudice. The abject is a slur hurled at the so-called Aliens, at the Other: Jews, Roma, women, gays, the unemployed, the homeless. The Others are rounded up and excluded from the Same; conspiracy theories abound, along with the marginalization of minorities and the masculinization - bucking-up of language (researched in Poland by Jan Baudoin de Courtenay and Jolanta Szpyra-Kozłowska).

Female scholars, artists and social activists are working against abjectification. But disgust has made its way into the public sphere; neo-Nazi skinheads no longer monopolize hatred. A concealed fascination accompanies an open phobia of the allegedly shamelessly corporeal, reeking, repulsive renegade, the Other. Polish culture scorns them and lusts after them. A warning against such abjectification is evident in Katarzyna Kozyra’s work Krzysztof Czerwiński, a portrait of Krzysztof Czerwiński, a homeless man, beaten to a pulp. His humiliated, besmirched, abused body is set against the backdrop of the Polish flag. Facing - against - along with a women’s revolt17 - the archives of Maria Janion, the archives of Zofia Kulik, the archives of ...

16 Ibidem. 17 Rewolta kobieca is a study by Paweł Leszkowicz. Rejected in Poland, it was published in Berkeley’s Bad Subjects. Paweł Leszkowicz, Feminist Revolt: Censorship of Women’s Art in Poland, http://bad.eserver.org/reviews/2005/leszkowicz.html 7