Re-enchanting the World Małgorzata Mirga-Tas
Małgorzata Mirga-Tas: Re-enchanting the World (March), 2022, textile installation (fragment), 462 x 387 cm. Photo: Bartek Solik.
The Re-enchanting the World project by the Polish-Roma artist for the Polish Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition is an attempt to expand the Polish and European iconosphere and art history with representations of Roma culture. Adhering to the title of this year’s edition of the Biennale Arte (The Milk of Dreams), the artist will create a magical world, constantly subjected to re-enchantment, proposing a kind of temporary and adventurous asylum to give viewers hope and respite. The exhibition is curated by Wojciech Szymański and Joanna Warsza.
The artist draws from images of key importance for European art history and visual culture, ‘appropriating’ them and inscribing in them a Polish-Roma identity and vernacular historical experience. The project for the Polish Pavilion is based on the ideas of transnationality, cyclicity, and changing oft-appropriated meanings, proposing a new narrative to describe the unending cultural migration of images and mutual influences between Roma, Polish and European cultures.
The title is inspired by Silvia Federici’s book, Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons (2018), which proposes re-enchanting as a way of recovering the idea of community and rebuilding relationships with others, including non-human actors: animals, plants, water or mountains. As such, re-enchanting – a non-violent process in which women play an important role – reverses the unfortunate fate of the world, shaking off its evil spell and charm. Małgorzata Mirga-Tas will design and make a series of twelve large-format textiles to cover the walls of the Polish Pavilion in Venice. The layout, form and motifs of the fabrics draw from the famous ‘calendar’ fresco cycle of the Renaissance Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara.
First fragment of Małgorzata Mirga-Tas’s work Re-enchanting the World for the Polish Pavilion
The first fragment of Małgorzata Mirga-Tas’s large-format work Re-enchanting the World, which will premiere in the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2022 in April, is now ready. Since November last year, together with a team of collaborators, the artist has been working every day on a series of twelve large-format textiles that will fill the space of the Pavilion.
The project alludes to the famous ‘Hall of the Months’ fresco series from the Renaissance Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara, Italy, one of the most mysterious buildings in European architecture. The symbols of the palace interior, as well as its layout and form, are the artist’s visual and ideological reference points. Each of the twelve fabrics presented in the Pavilion will be divided into three horizontal sections.
The upper section will depict the history of Romani peregrinations across Europe, referencing the engravings of Lorraine printmaker Jacques Callot. Created in the seventeenth century, these engravings are full of anti-Roma stereotypes. The artist disenchants this painful narrative and draws on historical works to create her own large-scale collages, showing the rich world of the Romani past and mythology.
The middle section is an archive of Roma history, built from a female perspective. In recent years, Mirga-Tas has created a number of works dedicated to the important women in her life, making up the “Herstories” series. Portraits of representatives of the Roma community will be complemented by symbols borrowed from tarot cards and zodiac signs from Palazzo Schifanoia. Combining images of real women with magic and astrology will transform them into symbolic guardians of fate, goddesses and prophetesses.
The lower section consists of twelve paintings depicting contemporary everyday life in the artist’s home village in Poland – Czarna Góra, and in the areas to which she is most closely connected – Podhale, in the south of Małopolska, and the multicultural Spisz. They mainly show women, their relationships, alliances and shared activities.
The project Re-enchanting the World, prepared specifically for the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2022, is an attempt to find the place of the Roma community in European art history. Małgorzata Mirga-Tas will transform key images in European art history by inserting representations of Roma culture and reversing the stereotypical narrative. The ‘re-enchantment’ of the title, inspired by Silvia Federici’s book Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons (2018), is a non-violent process to change the world’s errant paths, lift the evil spell from the world, and help regain a sense of community and rebuild relationships with others.
59th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia
23 April – 27 November 2022
curator and artistic director: Cecilia Alemani
title: Milk of Dreams
more about the Biennale Arte 2022
collaboration: Polish Institute in Rome
media patronage: Vogue Poland