Artist: Joanna Rajkowska
Two Men and a Mattress 8'39
Commissioned by Arts Territory as a part of The Illusion of Return project
This is a new film by Joanna Rajkowska; it started life as a film about Brexit. Unexpectedly, it grew into a narrative about an inexplicable urge that occasionally drives people blindly to their own destruction.
Rajkowska’s film employs two British men who, on a hot Polish summer day, suddenly perform a strange, impromptu and seemingly capricious act - taking a mattress and drowning it in the swamp. Before they do this, they discuss the historical moment in which they find themselves in and its 'bloody awful' character.
An exhausting and unstoppable trip ensues for the mattress: it travels downhill, through a forest, amongst thorns and nettles, pursued by mosquitoes, and into the swamps. 'There is a kind of inevitability, once you start…', one of them comments.
The work echoes the earlier wardrobe-carrying sequence in The Adventures of a Good Citizen (Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, Warsaw, 1937). This humorous and surrealist performance by a group of friends includes a Jewish character. Watching the film, it is hard not to reflect on the catastrophe of the Holocaust that was already looming. And, as we know, the summer of 1939, like the summer in Two Men and a Mattress, was excruciatingly hot, representing a calm before the political storm.
Supported by The Polish Ministry of Culture, National Heritage, Scholarship Program and Arts Council England.