How to Talk to Fascists

Artists: Alicja Rogalska, Joanna Rajkowska and Katarzyna Perlak
Curated by Kasia Sobucka
Metal Liverpool, Liverpool Biennale 2018 partner event 
12 July 2018

An evening of screenings, talks, open discussion and food curated by Kasia Sobucka featuring Alicja Rogalska and Joanna Rajkowska with a durational performance by Katarzyna Perlak. An inclusive event looking at the post-Brexit socio-political landscape as well as rising nationalism and the rebirth of fascism across Europe. Part of the Illusion of Return project.

Alicja Rogalska – ‘Belly of the beast’
A lecture performance looking at the rise of nationalism, the far right, and fascism in Central and Eastern Europe and the UK. She takes as a starting point a selection of events widely reported in the media, and explores our psychological biases and cognitive mechanisms when confronted with the social, legal and ideological formations of fascism. What examples of creativity are employed by the extremes of the political spectrum? What does the employment of contemporary art aesthetics by the far right mean for politicised leftist art practice today?

Joanna Rajkowska – ‘Two Men and a Mattress’ (preceded by F & S Themersons' ‘Adventures of a Good Citizen’ from 1937)
The UK premiere of ‘Two Men and a Mattress’, a film about an inexplicable urge that occasionally drives people blindly to their own destruction. Rajkowska’s film shows two British men who, on a hot summers day, suddenly take a mattress and drown it in a swamp. Before they do this, they discuss the historical moment they find themselves in and its ‘bloody awful’ character. The work echoes the wardrobe-carrying sequence in ‘The Adventures of a Good Citizen’ by Polish experimental filmmakers Franciszka and Stefan Themerson. This humorous, surrealist and inherently perturbing performance enacted by a group of friends, viewed now, evokes collective memories of the Holocaust, and a feeling of ‘the calm before the storm’, that was imminent at the time of its production.

Katarzyna Perlak  – ‘Tighten Throat and Butterflies’
A durational performance during which the artist will be serving an ‘Everything will be fine’ cake. Audiences will be invited (one by one) to make a wish and blow out the candle. The work creates a space in which wishes can be remembered/identified and hope generated.

The project has been developed as a part of Kasia Sobucka's residency at Metal Liverpool organised in partnership with the International Curator's Forum, Beyond The Frame programme.



Alicja Rogalska (PL/UK) is an artist living in London and working internationally. Her practice is research-led, interdisciplinary, collaborative and focuses on social structures and the political subtext of the everyday. She mostly works in specific contexts creating situations, performances, videos and installations. Her projects attempt to practise a different political reality here and now, create space for many voices to be heard and to co-exist, whilst collectively searching for emancipatory ideas for the future.

Alicja graduated with an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London (2011) and an MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Warsaw (2006). She was artist in residence at IASPIS in Stockholm (2017), KulturKontakt in Vienna (2017), MeetFactory in Prague (2016), National University of Colombia in Bogota (2014), Tate Britain (2011-12), attended the Home Workspace programme in Beirut (2013-14) and was an Artsadmin Bursary recipient in London (2016-17).

Joanna Rajkowska (born 1968) is an artist based in London and Nowogród, Poland. A versatile artist, Rajkowska is best known for her work in public space, where she uses real-life situations to construct sites, installations and ephemeral actions. Outcomes range from architectural projects, geological fantasies and excavation sites to underwater sculptures. Her work engages critically with the legacy, politics and aesthetics of Land art and employs unfamiliarity as a political tool. De-familiarizing, de-humanizing and relating are her operating devices. She is interested in the limitations of and the limiting of human activities, multiplicity of agencies and human and non-human relations.

Her most recent public projects include commissions by 7th Berlin Biennale (2012, Born in Berlin, Germany), Royal Society of Arts, Citizen Power Peterborough programme’s Arts and Social Change, Arts Council England (2012, The Peterborough Child, UK), Frieze Projects 2012 (2012, Forcing a Miracle, UK), Institute for Contemporary Ideas and Art (2014, Carpet, Sweden) and European Capital of Culture Wrocław (2016, Trafostation, Poland).

As well as commissions, she has realized a number of partisan public projects, most notably Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue in Warsaw (2002). The project was to become a major city landmark and has acted as a base for numerous political actions ranging from nurses’ protests to expression of solidarity with Ukraine during its invasion.

Katarzyna Perlak is a multi-media artist of Polish origins, based in London for the past 13 years. Her background is in Philosophy, which she studied in Poland (MA at University of Silesia) and Fine Arts, which she studied in London (BA at Camberwell College of Arts and MA at Slade School of Art). Her practice centres around video, photography and performance and recently expanded to incorporate sound as well as placing more emphasis on sculptural elements and modes of installation. Politics and feelings drive her work, engaging with intersectional narratives concerning migrant, queer and women’s histories. Autobiographical experiences often form the starting point, which then expand into inter-subjective dialogues, tapping into ideas of collective memory, shared vulnerabilities and desires. Most recently she has been awarded 2018 a-n Artist Bursary and selected as one of the 2017 Bloomberg New Contemporaries. Her work was shown in Block 336, London; BALTIC, Newcastle; Calvert 22, London; Diaspora Pavilion, Venice; BWA Wroclaw, Poland; Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland and several film festivals including 2017 Leeds Queer Film Festival, 2017 Berlin Feminist Film Week and 2016 Flare, London LGBTQ Film Festival.

Franciszka & Stefan Themerson’s  Stefan Themerson (Płock, Poland 1910 – London 1988) and Franciszka Themerson (Warsaw 1907 –  London 1988) met in Warsaw in the late 1920s, married in 1931, and went on to have a significant influence on the art and philosophy of the avant-garde of Eastern Europe during the 1930s. They are considered to be the most important experimental filmmakers in pre-war Poland. They moved to Paris in 1938, but after the outbreak of the Second World War Franciszka escaped the German invasion and fled to London in 1940. Stefan followed in 1942. They produced five films in Poland between 1930–7 (Pharmacy, Europa, Moment Musical, Short Circuit, The Adventure of a Good Citizen) and made two films (Calling Mr Smith and The Eye and the Ear) for the film unit of the Polish Ministry of Information and Documentation while in exile in London during the second world war. Only the last three, presented in this Lightbox display, have survived. The remarkable collaboration, invention and technical experiment that distinguished their career extended to a broad range of interests from film, photography, literature and art to design and publishing.
The Adventures of a Good Citizen, Warsaw, 1937, sound, B&W, 10 minutes, music by Stefan Kisielewski. The Adventures of a Good Citizen is the only survivor of the Themersons' pre-war films. Thought to be lost during the second world war, one old and badly battered print was found near Moscow and sent to the Film Archive in Warsaw. This complex cinematic collage uses live action, transformed in various ways, unconventional takes, and abstract effects painted directly on the film. *
*source Tate Moder