26.05 - 26.06.2011: PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING - the 1st part of the project GALICIA. TOPOGRAPHIES OF MYTH


The project’s concept draws on the tradition and history of the region, as well as the whole of the 19th century Małopolska, in which Nowy Sącz was an example of a typical, multinational and multicultural town in the Austro–Hungarian Empire. This con-text has had a significant influence on the town’s identity, sha-pe and development, which is still visible nowadays despite the passage of nearly a century.

The project is thus based on the two, interpenetrating traditions. The first one is the perspective of Nowy Sącz – a sub-region of Małopolska, the other, a long-range one, refers to a bigger number of nations which used to be co-citizens of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.


The venture is planned as a series of five international artistic presentations, prepared each time based on the artistic vision of different curators representing nations of the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The curators who were invited to participate in the project include Adam Budak, Michal Koleček, Barnabàs Bencsik, Danna Heller and Anda Rottenberg. The formula suggested by the organisers provides for cooperation among the curators so that they, together with the artists they have invited to the exhibition, can have an opportunity to co-create the final shape of the project. All the curators use the means of contemporary art to refer to the tradition, myths as well as stereotypes of the region but remain open to contemporary contexts that accompany all of us. Such artistic and ideological confrontation, drawing from the history as well as from current artistic movements, allows for re-interpretation of the imperial and royal tradition and also sheds light on problems experienced by particular nations.


Artists: Nevin Aladag, Josef Dabernig, Andreas Fogarasi, Assaf Gruber, Vlatka Horvat, Franz Kapfer, Aleksander Komarov, Svätopluk Mikyta, Paulina Ołowska, Agnieszka Polska, Maria Ritter, Bruno Schulz, Slavs and Tatars, Sofie Thorsen.

Adam Budak about the exhibition:

As an introductory chapter of an exhibition narrative GALICIA. TOPOGRAPHIES OF MYTH, orchestrated by five curatorial voices, the exhibition PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING outlines the primordial matrix of identity’s production where myth is understood as a “form of speech”, a semiological schema, a metalanguage, allowing to negotiate the borderlines of reality, history, and fiction in the uncanny journey through the lands of fantasy, ultimate desire and phantasmagoria. The exhibition is focused on the process of myth making, perceived as a generator of unity, order and an essence, is applied to the socio-political, geographic and cultural condition of Galicia – former Habsburg Monarchy’s invented land, an “unrealized” project whose spatial imaginary through centuries oscillated between Polish-Ukrainian borderlines, in the “shadow of the empire”. The PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING is a display of on the mythical construction of Galicia, its “being beyond history” and a status of a lost, “private homeland”. As a particular mental mapping, it too revisits Galicia’s discourse of nostalgia, leading towards the critical reconsideration of this multicultural and ethnically diverse region’s unstable geography as well as its troubled sense of belonging and universal standards. 

The symbolic rites of ‘entering’, ‘beginning’ and ‘birth’ shape this exhibition’s dramaturgy, which has been to a large extent inspired
by the literary oeuvre of Polish-Jewish writer and artist, Bruno Schulz (1892–1942), and especially by his literary debut, a short story „The Birds” (1934), which contains all essential aspects of Schulzian mythologized universum, including the childhood’s memories of innocence and subversion, dreams of immaturity and a drama of failed authority, loss and abandonment. Schulz’s central figure – the Father – is a polymorphous and eccentric identity: a hybrid of traditions, cultures and mythologies, a mystical medium, able to communicate with birds, his ultimate obsession, whose language is a common motif in Judaic mythology, being in fact the language of myth and immaturity. The mythic and the real, the everyday and the metaphysical weave the fabric of Schulz’s oneiric world and its chronotope, perceived as a metaphor for all lost grand narratives, and symbolizing the Galician topoi of the “last Europe”.


While the exhibition willingly choses to penetrate the Father’s mysterious attic – an ornithologist’s laboratory cum a veritable ”Noah’s Ark” – where the birds’ eggs are collected and the metamorphosis is taking place, the artists gathered in this exhibition are actively engaged in investigating the mechanisms of myth making and initiation, referring to Galicia’s living tradition and revealing what constitutes its postcolonial condition: heterogeneity and fragmentation, incompleteness and liminal status, self-estrangement and familiarity. PASSION OF AN ORNITHOLOGIST. ON MYTH MAKING is an act of balancing a turbulent history: between liberation and entrapment, it articulates a historical subject, engaged in desperate rehearsing of its lost ability for linear storytelling.


* Cykl GALICJA. TOPOGRAFIE MITU realizowany w ramach projektu pn. „Sztuka współczesna narodów dawnej monarchii austrowęgierskiej”. Projekt jest współfinansowany przez Unię Europejską w ramach Małopolskiego Regionalnego Programu Operacyjnego na lata 2007-2013.



Galeria BWA SOKÓŁ w ramach projektu "Budowa Małopolskiej Galerii Sztuki NA BURSZTYNOWYM SZLAKU w Nowym Sącz". Projekt współfinansowany z Europejskiego Rozwoju Funduszu Regionalnego Programu Operacyjnego na lata 2007-2013.