Julita Wojcik’s rainbow of plastic flowers in Warsaw has been burnt five times by Polish nationalist in the mistaken idea that the sculpture supports gay rights. The sculpture is now a main visual element of the battle for the heart of Poland as a conservative, nationalist bastion or a city of tolerance, especially for LGBT Poles. Yet the artist Julita Wojcik continues to say:
“The Rainbow fits all occasions and therefore transmits my main message: that it doesn’t stand for anything political or social, that it be completely free from any assigned meanings. Simply – that it be beautiful”.
I don’t get it. The work has become a political symbol for both the left and right, yet the artist denies the reality. Can any artist really maintain ignorance of the political implication and then the reality? When making the work, was the artist so naive to not recognize the rainbow as a symbol of gay liberation. What about those that commissioned the work for the EU Parliament in Brussels? What about the foundation that installed the work in Warsaw? Today the volunteers rebuilding the rainbow after each fire must be motivated by politics – at a minimum to fight back against the nationalists.
If we take the artist seriously without politics, then work is a soft version of children’s cartoons. Except without the artistic strength to add the “ponies” to make the work related directly to the cartoons. Tie emotionally to the joy of little girls like the original Hello Kitty in Japan. With the ponies, would the work have been displayed at the EU Parliament or even Warsaw?
In many ways, the stubbornness to keep fine art free of true politics protects the artwork and other artworks worldwide. Yes, artworks can be political, but on a philosophical level. Not political politics. As public art decision makers, we avoid even the most obvious politics such installing only sculptures of white cowboys. We don’t want to touch. Please everyone – let the politics slide. It is art.
I wish it was true that either we let the art be political or non-political as much as possible. True politics would lead to a democratic tolerance. I don’t think I will see that in my lifetime.
A multi-hued array of 16, 000 fake flowers on a 9 meter tall and 26 meter wide metal railing – the Rainbow on Plac Zbawiciela was conceptualized by Julita Wójcik and created with the help of volunteers from various professions – labourers, florists, doctors, artists.
Julita Wójcik. Performance artist, author of happenings, diver. Lives and works in Gdańsk. Born June 1, 1971 in Gdańsk. Winner of the Polityka Passport Award for Visual Arts in 2012 for her installation piece Rainbow, which was presented in front the EU Parliament in Brussels over the course of the Polish EU Presidency in 2011 and today stands in the centre of one of Warsaw’s busiest roundabouts.