A Belt and a Muzzle
Dorota Nieznalska deals with an art which is difficult to forget. After a first look at her works they start to pester receiver's imaginations by restoring and stirring into action of painful remembers and experiences. Dorota Nieznalska also deals with an art which is strong and straight, which is reaching a core of a problem. It's achieved by hitting into face, emotions and body.
If relations between sex become a superior topic, in the range of conventional system of sex differences the art will prefer a manly side. Being identified as an artist who tells female experience of a difficulty she is permanently using manly language. A masculinity, which is analyzed by the artist, is the masculinity of violence, aggression, humiliation and pain. Beacuse of her perception of the masculinity her art is so strong. The art takes its power from an destructive energy of phallic strength. Dorota Nieznalska stages psychodramas of the power by drawing the dramas out of unconsciousness and homes. Out of spaces, which are rarely opened but are non-stop in the air. „Nieznalska's air” is full of fundamental impulses.
Series of four black and white photographs illustrating a naked man and a pregnant bitch are not titled so they can be canceled. The illustration is piercing a receiver, who is glare. Four photographs, four isolated scenes are from a narration, which is filled up by viewer, who is integrating them into viewer's own story full of individual projections. It's kind of narration about relations between tenderness and violence, pleasure and humiliation and in the end, between love and perversion.
The naked man is seen starting at the level of stomach and ending on foots.
The man is anonym; he is reminding a naruralistic man's figure. First act is demonstrating a dog, which is tenderly touched (nearly attracted), witch smells the man's genitals. Next, there is appearning time of punishment. The dog with lower head is shrinking itself waiting for a punch by the man who is keeping a belt. Maybe the belt is only a kind of attribute which is turning on a mechanism of ordering and its using is redundant? In the next scene the bitch looks at standing in front of her lord very trustfully and tender fully. Between his penis and her eyes there is an invisible line.The dog is looking. The man's look is changing into look of distanced viewer. At least there appears final and decisive scene. Pregnant bitch is lying on the back, her paws are raised, she is waiting...; the naked man is reversed, we can only see his back, he is standing near the dog.
His palms are open and freely lowered. He is standing near the dog exactly as we are standing in front of the photography, in the centre, in the place of domination. Comunications is becoming complete; it has never been a problem.
There is a first question. Who is a woman identifying during viewing the series of photographs with? And who is identifying a man with? Why are they inverting their heads feeling reluctance, to what kind of connections in their memories are they reaching? This problem is important for the artist and also for people meeting her art! Near photographs there is hanging another object, which was thought as a gift for men only. This is penis belt-muzzle, made of leather. This is a symbol of aggression stopping and fetish desert.
Dorota Nieznalska is associated with an art dealing with painful and unequal relations between sex and negative influences of patriarch on intimate and public life. The art also tackles a problem of sex training. So, moving straight ahead this way, do we look at these photographs as a metaphor of patriarch relations between a man and a woman, a male and a female? Does the artist states itself from level of brutal and trivial reality, in which boys and men call sexual women- „bitches”, or even more, the artist avoiding this level is offering them the genital belt – muzzle, making masculanity sexual, reducing it? This is a appropriating of men's language, and simultaneously, making it naked by pain.
In the art of the artist there is much suffering, her passion is appearning very often and a cross, which is being built for us has two arms.One of the arms is sexuality and the second one is trauma. The connection of the trauma and sexuality the most clearly appeared in installation ;
„Modus Operandi” in 1998, which was dedicated to female experience of rape. But these photographs are much more difficult, they are appling sadomasochism in its the most shame form. There is not only meaaning of masculinity and feminity, animal and man, it is only first level of meaning. There is also problem of pleasure derived from the feeling of power and ordering, ruling and humiliation.
Scenes were cleaned. There are not any reality traces. The scenes are played in a ascetic space, there are only actors, psychodramas and sensitive light shadow. There is not any color decoration; there is only a space of void, out of the time and the contests. The artist comes into way of archetypical scene, the scene without needles masks, that's all. Why should be there any supplements? There is suggested a sadomasochism connection, which is being completed by the fetish object. There is also a pleasure and the pleasure makes these works so difficult for receives.
Simultaneously, there is't anything „unnatural”. Dogs behave exactly the same way being with loved owners, there is also a need of rewarding and punishing during process of manners education ( nearly as a man).The bitch is not being harmed! But combination of such a everyday scene with naked and controlling man and putting the scene into back and white vaccum makes, that all shaming feelings comes back and violence and perversion charge is exploding. The fact, that the bitch is pregnant only intensifies this potential.
This work can be interpreted as an allegory of subordinating and the pleasure, which is taken from subordinating. A pleasure genesis is result of the sexuality and connections betwen aggression and sexuality so that's the reason, that there is penis belt -muzzle near the photographs. In this point universal allegory another time is becoming a very clear criticism of masculinity. The criticism places power force in masculinity and next is damasking its sexual foundaments. The photographs are a show of phallic power, its connected favor and cruelty and finally the belt- muzzle is a contrast, a trial of stopping it.
The belt- muzzle is so mysterious that standing as an independent object it could be a very interesting artistic work. It is ambivalent and sick, ominous and comic and what's more, with interesting culture associations. It seems to be fetish costume but in sexuality history there is known „virginity belts” for men, popular in XIX century, when because of Victorian sexuality there happened anti-masturbation crusade. In these times there appeared anti-masturbation „shields” made of metal and leather. Penis was imprisoned in matched to its shape pipe, witch didin't allow erection to bring into effect, or, what's even worse, changed the penis erection into tortures. Destination of these perverse devices was to stop of masturbation, and in the wider meaning, manly sexuality.
Dorota Nieznalska connects this sexuality with violence and the „virginity belt” with the belt-muzzle. The belt- muzzle makes biting impossible, it is dog destiny. The artist offers the muzzle to a man transferring it from the dog to the man. Underlined animal behaves in man contrast with specific human element in bitch behaves – humanity in its gestures. Photographs are the bitch's portraits!.The man is cut out, the bitch is in the centre of the show, the bitch is an emotions vehicle, and a viewer can identify with the dog, if the viewer has so much bravery. There can be observed a breakdown of radical opposition, which is the fundament of our civilization, the opposition between animalism and humanity. So we have belt- muzzle for the man and sensivity fot the dog, its maternity and masochism.
The belt-muzzle makes complete the meaning of the work, but it doesn't close it. Despite of brutal naturalism of the photographs which is the result of brave honesty of the confrontation with reality, the belt- muzzle seems to be apply about delicacy, about culture, despite, and maybe because of natural fundament of sadomasochism society system and sexual reactions or even all-present hierarchies, where we are all in stange painful- sweet agreements of subordinating and ruling, which reaches into deep level of unconscious. That's why it's so difficult to look at these photographs, they are signalizing us a coming back to a masked base, something, which is internal but still displaced, masked by the culture. But it is working; it's working as like a machine, creeping.
Reality is adding very painfully punch line to the art. The artist got into this machine.When parliamentarians and members of Polish Families League came into „Wyspa” Art Gallery in Gdańsk to control publicized by media exhibition „Pasja” a installation containing metal cross with photography of male genital has been tried to be unpacked by one man. When the artist tried to hide it by her own body she was told to move away because the man was STRONGER. Was he? As a father, as a politican and as a man, was he? On the forum of portal Trójmiasto.pl there appeared some declarations of persons signed – Polish Youth. The declaration sounded that those artist as like Nieznalska „are to be hanged and their heads will be shaved, as it was done by AK to women, which had been keeping relations with Germans”. And we are accepting all these acts, national administration, which is assisting censorship, is dealing with demands all these people. So we are receving from the art a portrait of our society. A palm with a belt and horror in empty cellar, under home.