alex urban / NIETOTA (The What-is-Not) / Contemporary Museum in Wrocław / 29.06 – 01.10.2018

The tradition of the visual has often overlapped with the inexpressible, and the confrontation was sealed by the “anarrative” modernist art.

The title of the exhibition, which in Polish triggers association with dumbness or infant babble, refers to Tadeusz Miciński’s esoteric work from 1910 – Nietota. The Mystic Book of the Tatra Mountains. The author used a word which commonly described lepidodendrons, an extinct genus of tree-like plants from 300 million years ago. As folk superstition had it, especially in the Carpathian Mountains, they possessed magical powers.

However, it is difficult to explain Miciński’s motivations when using the tradition of witchcraft in his visionary novel. Given the author’s personality, whose literary rendition can be found in one of the novels by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, he was not driven solely by ethnographic fascinations. The use of the neologism in the title of the book referred to a state of “non-sense” and infirmity, and to the habit of not using proper names, which is reflected in the strong belief in sympathetic magic, and indirectly – in the supernatural power of representation.
The exhibition will be toured to the Municipal Gallery bwa in Bydgoszcz, 9 November 2018 – 5 January 2019