Degraded Objects, Harrowed Bodies: Roman Stańczak and Shock Therapy in Poland, 1990–96

Roman Stańczak’s artistic practice can be seen as a symptomatic expression of the multi-layered processes of degradation as experienced in some Polish regions with the advent of capitalism and the country’s entry into the global market at the turn of the 1990s. The neoliberal reforms in Poland brought about dramatic social consequences, leading to an exponential increase in income inequality, unemployment rate and the share of population living below the minimum subsistence level. On the rise throughout the 1990s and reaching its peak in the 2000s, the degradation suffered by some social groups and communities was both material and psychological, social and class-related. Stańczak’s performances and sculptures, with their depictions of ruined, wounded and degraded bodies and objects, closely correspond to that reality, which for a long time remained outside the scope of interest of Polish neoliberal parties and the media sphere, which fully endorsed the government’s policies throughout the 1990s.

ARTMargins, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp. 48-66.


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