Tomasz Kozak

In the found footage film entitled Romantic Neurosis scenes and stills from Aleksander Ford’s film Knights of the Teutonic Order were confronted with details of videos of heavy-metal music bands such as Manowar and Iron Maiden. The artist explores patriarchal fantasies and researches the penetration of visual popular culture by military, Romantic and heroic themes.

The title Poles! One more effort! refers to the revolutionary call by the Marquis de Sade: ‘Frenchmen, one more effort if you want to become Republicans!’ The artist transforms the figure of pathos and struggle from the patriotic and religious series by Artur Grottger to create a sadistic scene of insurgent carnage; the artist condemns anti-Semitism. Thus he disproves the martyrology-drenched Polish Romanticism and establishes a critical dialogue with the conventions of nineteenth-century Polish historical painting.

On A Self-portrait as Thomas Didymus we can see two young men who are touching each other and gazing at each other. The one facing the front, older, taller and more muscular, is a soldier – he is without his shirt on, but he is wearing a Polish helmet. He is embracing a naked ephebic youth, shown in profile. The soldier’s arm is placed around his waist and he is touching the young man’s buttocks. The enthralled youth is putting two fingers in the “Christ wound” in the soldier’s side. Above them a sign “Incredulity” is placed. The artist was inspired by the scene from the gospel according to St. John, where the risen Christ commands Thomas Didymus (doubting Thomas) to touch his body, raise his hand and put it into the wound in his side. Kozak exactly illustrates this moment, with the youth being Thomas penetrating the Polish soldier’s – “Christ’s” – wound with his fingers. Combining at the visual level masculinity, militarism, homosexuality and religion, the artist, in accordance with the title of one of his exhibitions, “introduces us into the deeper nights,” that is the phantasmatic Poland of the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Nerwica romantyczna, 2004, found footage 6'45"
Romantic Nervosis, 2004, found footage 6'45"

Dzięki uprzejmości artysty
Courtesy of the artist

Fotografie/Photos: Wojciech Pacewicz
Nerwica romantyczna, 2004, found footage 6'45"
Romantic Nervosis, 2004, found footage 6'45"

Dzięki uprzejmości artysty
Courtesy of the artist

Fotografie/Photos: Wojciech Pacewicz

Nerwica romantyczna, 2004, found footage 6'45"
Romantic Nervosis, 2004, found footage 6'45"

Dzięki uprzejmości artysty
Courtesy of the artist

Fotografie/Photos: Wojciech Pacewicz

Polacy! Jeszcze jeden wysiłek!, 2004, mural
Poles! One More Effort!, 2004, mural

Dzięki uprzejmości artysty
Courtesy of the artist

Fotografie/Photos: Wojciech Pacewicz

Autoportret jako Tomasz Didymos, 2003, akryl na płótnie
A Self-Portrait as Thomas Didymus, 2003, acrylics on cloth

Dzięki uprzejmości artysty
Courtesy of the artist

Fotografie/Photos: Wojciech Pacewicz