Kisieland (2009-ongoing)

Karol Radziszewski’s Kisieland (a long-term project started in 2009) brings to light several hundred transparencies from the 1980s documenting an artistic event with a distinctly gay theme at the home of a friend of Ryszard Kisiel, the founder and publisher of the first communist-era gay zine called "Filo". These pictures, taken at the time of state police crackdown on homosexuals, known as campaign "Hiacynth", seem strangely incommensurate with the martyrological narrative of the persecution of sexual minority. Radziszewski’s project is an attempt to enable the partial appearance of an archive which – due to the lack of interest in the recinstruction of the history of the LGBT in Poland – has failed to find a place in public discourse and because it is literally being carried away from Poland. The snapshots from Kisiel’s archive are also testimony of the early AIDS years, the memory of which is limited and still remains in the "intimate public sphere"; the realm in need of reconfiguring and posing questions regarding the pleasures and the risks involved in holding the event which these images document, and also in documenting it. The Kisiel archive brings us close to the quotidian 1980s and makes apparent the transnational undercurrent of the decade, which defies the surface appearance determined by cold-war era oppositions between the East and the West, pointing instead to the underlying and surprisingly cosmopolitan commonality of the sexual, political and artistic avant-garde of the day – in Gdansk, Warsaw, London, New York City.

(text by Tomasz Basiuk)

slide from Ryszard Kisiel