Is communism slipping back into power without us even noticing it? Are equality policies and discourses actually strategies to re-introduce the socialist-communist system? This year, IMPAKT is welcoming Polish multidisciplinary artist Liliana Piskorska (Zeic) as the 2021 EMAP/EMARE Resident at IMPAKT. During her residency she investigates the narratives created within the conspiracy theory of the so-called ‘cultural Marxism’. Her research will result in the audio and video installation Gently running downwards.
According to the conspiracy theory of cultural Marxism, despite the fall of the Communist system, it is still practiced in an indirect manner, through a “left wing guerrilla war”. Discourses propagating the equality of women, of sexual minorities, human rights and the left-wing ecological discourse are seen as strategies to re-introduce the socialist-communist system. In Poland, this theory was visible in radically right wing environments, in the media and political mainstream. What is striking within these narratives, like in most conspiracy theories, is the focus on feelings rather than facts. Their popular strength depends not upon evidence, but upon feeling – the essence of a Post-Truth culture.
Through the research-project Gently running downwards, Liliana wants to create a space for reflection over agency, hope and the idea of truth in the era of radicalisation of attitudes – a trend that is particularly strong in Poland. The title itself proposes that we slow down our speed in order to make it possible to look around for a few more seconds, in today’s end times.
The resulting installation focuses on the multiplicity of events and ideas that feed the post-truth, radical right conspiracy discourse of “cultural Marxism” and at the same time on emotions and body reactions resulting from prolonged minority stress experienced by stigmatised and discriminated communities. Interwoven layers of text, audio and video reflect on these narratives and how they are constructed. The material for the audio script is based on performative meetings, research and interviews that Liliana carried out in Poland during the first phase of her residency. For the visual part of the project Liliana turns to traditional folk children’s games. These games are found – with small variations – in many countries and geographical regions. Thus, games become transnational symbols showing social relations: elements of violence, punishment or marking “the Other”, setting boundaries between groups, elements of evaluating, recognizing who is ‘different’ or ‘strange’.