Exhibition installation view at California Institute of the Arts. Fot. Rafael Hernandez
‘Palliasse’, an early 16th century word for straw mattress, from French ‘paillasse’, based on Latin ‘palea’ meaning ‘straw’. In French, it is also a derogatory term for a clown or a fool.
Taking a straw mattress (in Polish, ‘siennik’) as a departure for the exhibition, the artist examines a neglected everyday object of the past as a site for an investigation into the emergence of a political subject. The conditions of this emergence point back towards systems of oppression — class, poverty, and forced labor — as well as other kinds of unpaid labor, such as childcare and housework. Palliasse represents a kind of horizontality of labor expressed in a multitude of functions that play out as acts of resistance against power, desire against domination, relationships against rule, and body against authority.
The phrase — the personal is political — is proposed to examine the political within the context of new historiography considered from the feminist, post-communist, and migrant perspective.
View video here