Adam Budak about the exhibition
“Galicia was born of myth, and from myth it would rise again”
Another Europe: Remembering Habsburg Galicia
“At that time we noticed for the first time father’s passionate interest in animals. To begin with, it was the passion of the hunts-man and the artist rolled into one. It was almost perhaps a deeper, biological sympathy of one creature for kindred, yet different forms of life, a kind of experimenting in the unexplored regions of existence. Only at a later stage did matters take that uncanny, complicated, essentially sinful and unnatural turn, which it is better not to bring into the light of day. But it all began with the hatching out of birds’ eggs.”
Bruno Schulz, The Birds
“The world enters language as a dialectical relation between activities, between human actions; it comes out of myth as a harmonious display of essences”
Roland Barthes, Mythologies
As an introductory chapter of an exhibition narrative GALICIA. TOPOGRAPHIES OF MYTH, orchestrated by five curatorial voices, the exhibition PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING outlines the primordial matrix of identity’s production where myth is understood as a “form of speech”, a semiological schema, a metalanguage, allowing to negotiate the borderlines of reality, history, and fiction in the uncanny journey through the lands of fantasy, ultimate desire and phantasmagoria. The exhibition is focused on the process of myth making, perceived as a generator of unity, order and an essence, is applied to the socio-political, geographic and cultural condition of Galicia – former Habsburg Monarchy’s invented land, an “unrealized” project whose spatial imaginary through centuries oscillated between Polish-Ukrainian borderlines, in the “shadow of the empire”. The PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING is a display of on the mythical construction of Galicia, its “being beyond history” and a status of a lost, “private homeland”. As a particular mental mapping, it too revisits Galicia’s discourse of nostalgia, leading towards the critical reconsideration of this multicultural and ethnically diverse region’s unstable geography as well as its troubled sense of belonging and universal standards.
The symbolic rites of ‘entering’, ‘beginning’ and ‘birth’ shape this exhibition’s dramaturgy, which has been to a large extent inspired
by the literary oeuvre of Polish-Jewish writer and artist, Bruno Schulz (1892–1942), and especially by his literary debut, a short story „The Birds” (1934), which contains all essential aspects of Schulzian mythologized universum, including the childhood’s memories of innocence and subversion, dreams of immaturity and a drama of failed authority, loss and abandonment. Schulz’s central figure – the Father – is a polymorphous and eccentric identity: a hybrid of traditions, cultures and mythologies, a mystical medium, able to communicate with birds, his ultimate obsession, whose language is a common motif in Judaic mythology, being in fact the language of myth and immaturity. The mythic and the real, the everyday and the metaphysical weave the fabric of Schulz’s oneiric world and its chronotope, perceived as a metaphor for all lost grand narratives, and symbolizing the Galician topoi of the “last Europe”.
While the exhibition willingly choses to penetrate the Father’s mysterious attic – an ornithologist’s laboratory cum a veritable ”Noah’s Ark” – where the birds’ eggs are collected and the metamorphosis is taking place, the artists gathered in this exhibition are actively engaged in investigating the mechanisms of myth making and initiation, referring to Galicia’s living tradition and revealing what constitutes its postcolonial condition: heterogeneity and fragmentation, incompleteness and liminal status, self-estrangement and familiarity. PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING is an act of balancing a turbulent history: between liberation and entrapment, it articulates a historical subject, engaged in desperate rehearsing of its lost ability for linear storytelling.