To Blaspheme or to Create Myths? To Challenge and Debunk or to Sanctify?
- Participants — Revd Andrzej Draguła (University of Szczecin), Paweł Goźliński, Grzegorz Niziołek (Jagiellonian University, Kraków), Maria Prussak (Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences) and Weronika Szczawińska
On the eve of the Year of the Avant-garde, declared to mark the 100th anniversary of the exhibition of Polish expressionists on 4 November 1917, and not long after the global celebration of the 100th anniversary of the premiere of The Rite of Spring on 29 May 1913, it is worth taking a close look at the processes of archiving and museumfying protest in art. The occasion is provided by The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky, Roerich and Nijinsky, which combines innovative composition and choreography with a reconstruction of tribal rituals and beliefs, and so makes it imperative to ask whether mythologising is always at odds with the avant-guard’s challenging and tearing down of canons?
The Rite of Spring was for the 20th-century what Mickiewicz’s Forefathers’ Eve (Dziady), the greatest manifestation of Romantic protest, was for the century before. And if the community action blueprint that has been derived from Mickiewicz's play is a quasi-sacred, mythologising performance of Polish culture, one enacted time and time again in all possible ways, it is a performance that is transgressive and ever vulnerable to accusations of sacrilege and blasphemy. Therefore, it provides a good starting point for discussion about the social functions of art in the past and now.
How can art be put to use by societies today? Can it be used to mythologise and sanctify their current form? Or perhaps it can serve to perpetually call into question ‘that which is’ – to blaspheme against that which is held sacred, in the name of an insatiable quest for the truth of a living experience.