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08/06 - 28/06/2015

Dorota Jarecka
art critic from newspaper ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’

Golgota Picnic

The protest of the organization ‘Krucjata Młodych’ against Rodrigo Garcias ‘Golgota Picnic’, which is spread under the pretense of acting against the corruption oozing from the theatrical stage, is flabbergasting. It is not the first time that one has to explain that art uses metaphors, and that not every appearance of a naked woman or man on stage is designed to question the dignity of the Polish catholic. The ‘Krucjata Młodych’[the Crusade of the Young], as it’s name suggests, should be fighting a religious war. Of course, the main objective is to defend Jerusalem, but it will not hurt to plunder Constantinopole on the way. And that is exactly what is happening. The crusaders have reached the island of Malta and target the most vulnerable integral of civilization – art. One has to admit, that ‘the Crusade of the Young’ is a quite adequate pseudonym.

Stigamatizing art, especially in the name of religion, threatens to be followed closely by censorship. It is the protestants who create the atmosphere of scandal. And every leniency towards the demands of the censors is dangerous when considering freedom of speech. First of all, it is unacceptable to allow prevention criticism. Secondly, the petition of ‘Krucjata młodych’ concerning removing the ‘Golgota Picnic’ from the Malta Festival on the basis of it being offensive to God and religion lacks merit, as it is a play that denounces evil in favor of such values as the ‘love of thy neighbor’. It is also preposterous that the protest of this marginal faction has been supported by some political parties, PiS among them.

What is the ‘Golgota Picnic’ about? It is a play full of sarcasm, but far from cynical. It is an allegory of the modern civilization on the brink of both an economical crisis and an ecological catastrophe. The play – a spectacular fresco bringing together theater and film – incorporates elements of the Passion with those of the Apocalypse. There are numerous preachers who would not hesitate to show our lives, filled with consumerism and lust for immediate pleasures, as a carnival of hedonism and egoism. And that is what ‘Golgota Picnic’ is about. But – o my! – it is a secular message and presented in a costume of a religious mystery play. The message is – lust and dreams whose motor are violence and megalomania, weaken art. Art rests on the other side if the balance scale. It is the counterweight, the means for rescue. Hence the performance of a world famous pianist, which takes up almost a third of the play. An amazing idea. The piece by Haydn „The Seven Last Words of Christ” seems to be a musical painting of an inner Passion, one that each and every one of us has inside.

The play operates on contrasts. Between the diagnosis, stating that we have been pushed to the edge, and the therapeutic music lies a flow of beautiful pictures which refer to classic paintings and modern art alike. One can easily spot the allusion to ‘The raising of the Cross’ by Rubens, ‘The calling of Saint Matthew’ by Caravaggio, ‘Meat Joy’ by Carolee Schneemann or ‘Orgien-Mysterien Theather’ by Hermann Nitsch. An attack on this theatrical performance is a suicidal move, as it is an attempt to undermine the whole of western Europes iconography based on the same motives Garcia uses: the images of suffering, agony and sexuality which museums are full of. What „Krucjata młodych” is really doing by using Catholicism as a weapon is encouraging iconoclasm, which aims to banish not only Garcias „Golgota Picnic”, but the whole of experimental culture, Rubens and Michael Angelo included. Shame it does not state it openly. This band of fanatics will never reach Jerusalem and that is not even its intention. Its intention is raising a civil war within its own culture.