The exhibition Mary (Polish for “mares” in Old English) is a kind of script, or more precisely a reconstruction, of a performance originally directed in a dream. Oskar Dawicki, a literary and film figure, an artist known as a practitioner of total performance, presents this time a dystopian narrative. The central figure in his vision is a pregnant woman, the heroine of our times, nourisher of the unborn but also caretaker of the dead. As befits a doubting artist, the world of his creation is full of ambivalence. Sunglasses worn by pregnant women may show off summertime chic, or may conceal permanent blindness. Similarly, in a series of tin grave plaques, Dawicki brings into being and immediately kills off characters with familiar-sounding names: Trud Ponitz (Toyle Fornaught), Wiktoria Daremna (Victoria N. Vane) or Korporacja Koniecpolska (Polensend Corp).
The knight’s armor at the centre of the exhibition—Armatura polonica utilitate graviditatis—alludes to the myth of the armed nation and its current pro-family policy, but also the widespread social escapism manifest in such phenomena as hobbies, historical re-enactment groups—and contemporary art itself. Paradoxically, in a politically and materially unstable reality, an artist with a post-conceptual pedigree restores to art one of its formerly fundamental properties, as a one-off, handmade form. Ink-washed drawings, armor forged by a metalsmith, and hand-painted grave plaques: the works derive their illusive power from old-world craftsmanship. But this traditional costume is a camouflage. Concealed beneath it is a thoroughly up-to-date and deeply personal diagnosis of the deficit of vital forces. When strength fails, mares arise.