Who can resist the seductive singing of a mermaid? Who is surprised by the centaurs inhabiting the mythical Arcadia? How not to bend the knees before the majestic sphinx? Who is shocked by the breaking of Rumpelstiltskin in two? Everything can come together in one's head, if one only goes for it. In an ornate setting and a convincingly constructed narrative, within the established rules and a preconceived cognitive horizon, every "whim of nature" is possible, and every excess is understandable and acceptable. As long as the world of miracles and "anomalies" is tightly enclosed or bracketed, everything will be fine.
The exhibition "Flesh and Blood Fairy Tales" is the result of the collaborative work of the X-Philes collective engaging with poems from six individuals who identify themselves as non-normative. In contrast to mythological characters or the heroes from the Grimm brothers' tales, these individuals are real people: Danielka Weiss, Łęko Zygmuntówne, Pat Dudek (Milkbaby), Anouk Herman, Wojciech Kopeć and Martix Navrot (Xenon). In their poetic texts, we follow their struggles with an authoritarian and restrictive norm that manifests itself in various forms such as medicine, politics, or language. We also find acts of defiance against what is deemed standard and socially sanctioned, occasionally expressed through rebellious actions and more often through a challenge wryly thrown at the guardians of this norm.
The objects presented at the exhibition are a visual interpretation of the collected poems, forming a statement about queer identities that resist anachronistic attempts at categorisation. Each assemblage is a hybrid composed of found objects: doors extracted from the poem - through which one can pass, real locks of the author's hair, or a perfume bottle evoking true memories from a fictional journey. These serve as portals to alternative worlds (hospitable or not), which one can visit with the arrival of the first rays of sunlight on the windowpane or after a morning glance in the mirror. The spatial compositions have been programmed to interact with the viewer(s) - some can be touched, others will receive and reflect a gaze, or help to see what is not visible in the darkness. Following the White Rabbit from Wonderland, we hop, then disappear into a forest hole, to reappear on the surface of the water, with our mermaid tail shimmering in the glow of seven seas.
X-Philes is a research and artistic collective dedicated to queer poetry. Members of the group engage with texts gathered through open calls, aiming to democratise the process and avoid prioritising one piece over another. Their guiding principle - quantity over quality - is rooted in the belief that every expression holds value and significance. In their practice, they emphasise the performative aspect of poetic text, seeing it as a means to share recorded experiences not in solitude but within a community, thereby strengthening both. In line with this philosophy, the collective organises slams, poetic workshops, queer hotlines, and performances. X-Philes has participated in various artistic events and collaborated with institutions such as Warsaw Gallery Weekend, Zachęta - National Gallery of Art, Jasna 10, HER Docs Film Festival, and Poptown.eu. In September of this year, in collaboration with the Old House of Culture in Warsaw, the collective released a comprehensive publication titled Archive of Queer Poetry.
The authors of the exhibition Flesh and Blood Fairy Tales presented at the Foksal Foundation Gallery, are Rafał Domagała, Maja Gomulska, and Bartosz Jakubowski.
X-Philes, Flesh and Blood Fairy Tales, 2023, Foksal Gallery Foundation, exhibition view, photo Marek Gardulski
X-Philes, Flesh and Blood Fairy Tales, 2023, Foksal Gallery Foundation, object details, photo Filip Preis
X-Philes collective: Rafał Domagała, Maja Gomulska i Bartosz Jakubowski, photo Filip Preis