Op-ed: The banana outrage in Poland

There is no limit to the perverted prudery and hypocrisy of the current Polish government. One of my favorite ministers, the one in charge of culture, Piotr Gliński, has however elevated it all to a new, even more embarrassing level. This man, with the look and mentality of an officious, low-level local party apparatchik from the early ‘60s, has recently evicted two world-famous artworks from the National Museum in Warsaw. He warned they were “scandalizing the children” and “promoting certain aspects of gender trends”. The particularly ‘scandalous’ one was a composition of photographs of a young woman’s face with a half-peeled banana next to her mouth.

Now, I am no expert on art by any stretch. I base my opinion on widely circulating information about this piece, which has traveled the world since the `70s and has been exhibited in many of the most famous and prestigious galleries. It is said to be one of the trendsetting works of emancipatory feminist art of that era. Thus removing it from one of the biggest art premises in Poland is an act of terrible bigotry about which I really have no words to describe my fury.

The Polish language dictionary would have to be significantly expanded with new insults if any critical descriptions of the actions of Law and Justice officers are to be made at all. All the most offensive words are no longer enough to reflect the frustration and rage that awaken in the mind of a sane person living in Poland. The nationwide paranoia orchestrated by the ‘chairman of the state’ Jarosław Kaczyński, in which the entire public space is stuck, strengthens each day and every week and approaches increasingly hooligan and crude levels.

It already stole politics a long time ago, putting in its place a rusty swing, where the whole society can swing between Smolensk, ‘the invasion of Islam’, ‘gender ideology’, Fort Trump and ‘the dragon from the Kremlin’ on one side and ‘European values’, ‘lost achievements of the Third Polish Republic’, ‘free courts’, ‘the fight against the fascist dictatorship’,‘the fight against the reinstallment of the Polish People’s Republic’ and ‘the dragon from the Kremiln’ (both parties engaged in this artificial conflict entertain this fear-mongering) on other side.

Now this deranged paranoia steals art with the opening of a new Kulturkampf front. A banana next to a woman’s mouth is too much for the guards of public morality. Such blatant conservative perversion has not yet been displayed. Obviously, the lunacy of the ruling elite is intensifying. I’m really scared to think what the reactionary censorship will look like when these fundamentalists win the next general election and go off the hook completely.

Only, please, keep in mind that this is not really a new phenomenon. We’ve seen here massive mobilizations and various acts of vandalism against art that even remotely related to the human body or sexuality from the beginning of the `90s. Now it’s just state-driven.

Law & Justice just took these trends to a new level and their regime is a creative extension of what was installed after 1989 and is not a contradiction.

Also, ask yourself the question – how devastating have the the last three decades been if they brought society to such a moral and political plight that its majority places all the hopes in such a bigoted and pathetic structure like Law & Justice? While it makes sense to lament the removal of the banana pic, it’s important not to be naive and fall for the utterly stupid and hypocritical wailings of the so called ‘democratic opposition’ in Poland. They all have to go!

P.S. I just can’t seem to refrain from stating that personally, I see nothing feminist or emancipatory in a picture of a stereotypically good-looking woman simulating fellatio with a banana, but I don’t have the authority to insert myself into a discussion and struggle that isn’t really my own.

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