No 1 (65) 2006
January - March

Killing Me Softly

I do not know how to name my God: that is what he confessed on Belgium TV; from the inside of a confessional at the Notre Dame de Lourdes in Brussels, where he presented The Couple during the Irreligion.
Kazimierz Piotrowski

Art historian, curator, he publishes texts on contemporary art.

Kazimierz Piotrowski
Rooted crosses symbolize the anomy of religion torn between mythology and universalism which katholikós attempt to face up. An experience of critical art in an open, working temple, has been the engine of this project which deals with – as the decision by Marc Scherens, the parish priest of the above quoted church that hosted the irreligious art - the risk of coexistence of Catholicism with alien to it points of view. For some, the Irreligion will remain traumatic. We are waiting for a conference to be held at the Museum Atelier 340. It is to be on a potential problem of an investigation related to an offence against religious feelings. A claim was placed as early as the year 2002 but the case has not been yet ruled out by the prosecutor’s office. Meanwhile, the friendship between Scherens and Wodek, the Atelier 340 President – has proved the existence of the Spirit of positive religion. This has made possible the cooperation between the Christian Theism priest and the atheistic humanist believing in art, since if God existed, nothing would change. This is our outlook .Our belief in the existence of God is not the issue because we are convinced that this is not our main problem. It is necessary for a man to discover his own self and explain oneself that nothing is going to protect him against his own self – even the strongest proof of the existence of God. ¹ Watching the exhibition by Leszek Knaflewski at the Poznań Piekary Gallery, one can but observe that he has been taking part in this battle – at the same time in this ecumenical process – just as other irregulares. We recognize a man’s silhouette in light-boxes – this is Knaf dressed up in a cassock and playing a warrior of the hard religion. Assuming an ambiguous picture of clergy, as the God’s army; disciplined, clad in black – as though he were a delayed follower of the revolutionary totalitarian approach by Zenon Świętosławski (1811-75) and his Universal Church Laws providing that any disobedience towards the Church should be punished with death penalty – he has been developing, in metonymic way, this imaging of regimentation, adding complementing elements. He is striving to be realistic in staging this dangerous paradigm of the fighting, exorcisms driven Church, when he equips a clergyman with a gun, a bayonet and a helmet with an aggressively patterned cross. He has not, however, resisted a surrealistic temptation, going back to the good old times of Koło Klipsa when he outlined an image of a rector flashing pearl teeth. The pacifistic approach adopted by the Church of today has been intensified through electronic, global mass media. A remote controlled dove – embodying the Holy Ghost – with an antenna on her head, makes one admire the satellite evangelization. The exhibition title is a challenging appeal for the religion - for as long as it has - to make its due softly – tenderly, gently, kindly. Knaflewski – being fully aware that there is no escape from the religious regimentation – postulates for the global soft religion: filled in with warmth, speaking a soft, healing voice. This would be the tolerant religion, cured from totalitarian inclinations, postponing the euthanasia of its Spirit. This mechanical hard aspect is intrinsic to any religion – as Knaf has literally proved. There is, however, also a place for the soft, today facilitating the game of the ecumenical dialogue. Let it be rather erotic, seductive, Witty, sophisticatedly humorous and ironic (from Greek, asteidzomai, as Socrates understood the term), than threatening with the judgment and power driven! Spirit – most likely the last best film presentation of the sophisticated ironic humor that has made a point of educational soft function (from Greek, paideia, understood as starting education and training at an early age to be continued later) of religion. Two shaved girls are playing a basket ball, supervised by a clergyman. The game is being interrupted by static frames of the weird priest/ gymnast with an elongated black neck. His facial expression, out of the frame, can be only guessed by the tender way he is stroking the girls’ heads/basketballs. This game, all the time preliminary, suddenly explodes and becomes a slight harassment, when it turns out that the searched head of the tender priest has been in the basket from the very beginning. Spirit – though you go where you wish and we do not know where you are coming from or where you are heading for (J 3, 5 –8) judge him softly! ² ¹ Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism Is Humanism. Marxism and Existentialism, Warsaw 1957. p. 51. ² I have nearly forgotten: this phenomenology of the Ghost has been pointed out by Spirit – a company logo on the ball. Leszek Knaflewski, “Killing me Softly”, the Piekary Gallery, Poznań, October – November 2005.