Tag Archives: art

Polandian on Sunday #2


Welcome to Polandian on Sunday with a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. The Polish-Polish pierogi war.

Pierogi, dumplings with many varieties of filling, are a Polish specialty. They have also become the subject of a major row.

As businesses serving pizza are called pizzerias, those serving pierogi are called pierogarnias. At least they were – until this week.

Pierogi places around Poland have received letters from the lawyers of the “Polskie Pierogarnie” company, demanding the word “pierogarnnia” be removed from their street signs, menus, business cards and ads. Apparently the company has registered the name “pierogarnia” at the patent office.

Many pierogi establishments argue “pierogarnia” is a generic name. Lawyers are already jumping with joy at the prospect of a long and difficult trial. So are Polish philologists, who as court language experts will finally be able to find a job connected with their studies.

2. A new biography of Lech Wałęsa’s draws an unflattering image

Previously there were the accusations of Wałęsa’s co-operation with communist secret services. This week is all about the new book claiming that Wałęsa, inter alia:
– peed into a font when he was 9;
– attacked peasant parties with an axe;
– had an illegitimate child, which he never officially acknowledged;
– and repeating the old claim that he was an agent of communist secret services.

The book, which is actually a master’s thesis, by 24-year-old Paweł Zyzak, caused a massive outcry this week. Controversial claims remain unverified, and in many cased unverifiable. Stories from Wałęsa’s youth are based on anonymous accounts from villages where Wałęsa used to live. Journalists soon followed the paths taken by Mr Zyzak – and heard the same things from the local peasant folk.

Established historians have criticised the work as not being compliant with proper methodology.


Wałęsa is outraged. His first reaction was to say that he did not fight for a Poland such as this, and that he considered returning the Nobel Prize and other awards, and leaving the country. Mr Zyzak has been condemned by Poland’s top-people. The government is outraged too, and wants to control how the Jagiellonian University, founded 1364, protects scientific standards while granting degrees in its History Department—a proposal that some see as a breach of the universities’ independence and of freedom of speech.

Mr Zyzak is also the author of other original thoughts. As a Kaczynski brothers’ Law and Justice party politician he demanded that Gazeta Wyborcza, the most popular Polish broadsheet, be removed from schools because it “promotes hatred of the Polish state, and it spits on national and local authorities”. He also said that gay people are “animals and descendants of the devil”. In one article he wrote: “Fags, using individual physical and verbal attacks against them, cunningly gather people’s compassion”.

Since he might be stripped of his masters – he should be hoping for some compassion himself these days.

3. Barack Obama – a descendant of Polish monarchs?

In the desserts of the Sahara, in the jungles of Manhattan, on the beaches of the Seychelles: Polish people are everywhere in the world. As it turns out, the current occupant of the White House might be Polish too. At least a bit.

Previous studies proved Barack Obama’s connection to the English house of Plantagenet and Edward I.  A Czech expert explores the connection between the Plantagenets, the Polish house of Piast and the Bohemian house of Przemyślid (cz. Přemyslid).

Descent Table of Barack Obama, King Edward I of England and Mieszko I, Duke of Poland.

Mieszko I, Duke of Poland  ? – 992
Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslas the Brave), King of Poland 967 – 1025
Mieszko II, King of Poland 990 – 1034
Kazimierz Odnowiciel (Casimir the Restorer), Duke of Poland 1016 – 1058
Władysław Herman (Ladislas Herman), Duke of Poland 1043 – 1102
Bolesław Krzywousty (Boleslas III Wrymouth Piast), Duke of Poland 1085-1138
Władysław II, (Ladislas II Piast), Duke of Krakow and Silesia 1105-1159
Rychilda (Richilde Piast), 1135-1198
Sancha of Castille 1154-1208
Alphonse II, Count of Provence ca 1180-1209
Raimond-Bérenger V, Count of Provence & Forcalquier ca 1205-1245
Eléonore of Provence 1223-1291
Edward I Longshanks Plantagenêt, King of England 1239-1307
Elizabeth Plantagenêt 1282-1316
William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton ca 1311-1360
Elisabeth de Bohun ca 1350-1385
Elizabeth Fitzalan 1366-1425
Joan Goushill
Catherine Stanley
Dulcia Savage
Maud Bold
Jennet Gerard
William Eltonhead
Richard Eltonhead
Martha Eltonhead
Eltonhead Conway
Martha Thacker
Edwin Hickman
James Hickman 1723-1816
Susannah Hickman
Annie Browning
George Washington Overall 1820-1871
Susan C Overall 1849
Gabriella Clark 1877
Ruth Lucille Armour 1900-1926
Stanley Armour Dunham 1918-1992
Ann Dunham 1942-1995
Barack Obama 1961-


Mieszko I Piast - probably Barack Obama's forefather.

4. The last etude at Okęcie

An étude is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill. It was also the name of a terminal at Warsaw’s Okęcie Chopin Airport. First opened in 1976 it served as the arrivals hall until 1992, when Terminal 1 was extended and refurbished. The number of passengers continued to grow, and very soon exceeded its capacity. In 2004 Etiuda was reopened to accommodate the rapidly growing low cost airlines. It was thought of only as a temporary solution since Terminal 2 was in the last phases of construction. There were also advanced plans to open a new airport further away from Warsaw.

Things didn’t go according to plan: Terminal 2’s launch was repeatedly postponed and the plans for a new airport plans were abandoned. The tiny space of Etiuda was getting more and more crowded – from 474,000 passengers in 2004 – to 948,000 in 2008. Overcrowding, together with greatly insufficient number of places to sit, lack of bars, restaurants or shops, tiny toilets, no air conditioning and delayed flights – meant that each visit to Etiuda was an horrific experience, that stayed with each visitor for a long time. We’ve mentioned this at Polandian before as well.

This week Etiuda was finally closed (ignoring protests from Ryanair, Easyjet and WizzAir) – which was celebrated with a grande fete outside the terminal in the Polish 70s style. Telebims displayed scenes from cult Polish comedy films in which the terminal was featured. The public got hot tea with vodka from thermos flasks and egg sandwiches wrapped in breakfast paper. Old style ‘crew’ with odd haircuts and vile make-up presented a happening: a very rude and disrespectful ‘check-in’ service. A reminder of how it was during the communist days – now a laughing matter. A huge “Closed” sign was lit up to finish off the night. Etude is over.





Nudists – who might be getting a brand new beach on Warsaw’s Vistula bank. The Warsaw’s City Council motion aims to recreate the once popular nudist spot near Wał Miedzeszyński. The project needs the support of the mayoress of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz, whom you can contact with petitions at ajaworska@warszawa.um.gov.pl.

The Polish economy – according to The Economist Poland will be the only country in Europe, excluding Slovakia and Slovenia, with a GDP growth in 2009 (0.7% to be precise). Other countries will experience a negative GDP growth rate due to the current crisis. Poland’s prognosis for 2010 is a more optimistic 2.2% GDP growth rate.

Firefox web browser – which, for the first time had a larger market share (45.3%) in Poland, than Internet Explorer (45.0%)


Radek Sikorski – the current Minister for Foreign Affairs lost his bid to become NATO Secretary General. Reportedly the Americans wanted the Danish guy (Anders Fogh-Rasmussen). Mr Sikorski should have thought twice, before he supported McCain against Obama the Piast.

The Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń – which has hidden from view a part of its own exhibition on Saturday. The exposition entitled “Lucim lives on” presents peasant inspirations in modern art. One of the elements of the exhibition was a film, which the CoCA director, politically appointed figure, perceives as ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’. Conservatism and censorship is hardly a surprise when you think that instead of a speech from the curator presenting the CoCA’s programme during its launch ceremony, there was a priest offering prayer for the CoCA to “make benefit the glorious people of Toruń”.

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Polish Artists You Hate You Couldn’t Love

Why no one heard about so many Polish artists is — verily, verily — something to make foreigners angry. Every time anyone is satisfied with their English reads, visions, produce of the monolingual civilisation, there could be at least two irritants in the back of their mind:


#1: Hmm, maybe a haiku born somewhere far away is worth more than all Shakespeare – and I can walk no way to find out?

#2: Hmm, maybe that haiku was never written because its author died in poverty, as most funds went to promote Shakespeare?

Release your anger. I’m giving you a short list of ‘why da
heck don’t I know ’em‘ artists:

PAINTING: Andrzej Wróblewski, died 30, when mountaineering. (Admittedly, a James Deany way of dying scores bonus points for the artist.) If you want to get a handful of his pictures on fine paper, buy this thing. Mind, it’s not an album of Wróblewski’s paintwork.

Shot by a Nazi

It is Arw, a script by Stanisław Czycz [a weirdnik in his own right], about Wróblewski’s life. The script was never put in motion – had it been, the movie would have been made by an honorary Oscar awardee, Andrzej Wajda, who commissioned the script-writing. You may want to find out for yourself why.


THEATRE: Jerzy Grotowski. Nuff said. (As you may know him after all.)
Can NoneTheatre come to YouTube? Apocalypsis Cum Figuris, an example.


POETRY: Bolesław Leśmian. This one is tough — to fully appreciate the flavour of the whisky Leśmian (though I think he’d probably think of himself as absinth, fresh meadow fragrant), one needs to know Polish natively, have a knack for words. Appreciation for deathly eroticism is appreciated, too. If your favourite scene of Wuthering Heights was Heathcliff lovingly opening Cathy’s grave, you’ll catch it.

Cathy, you’ll die on 20th March

Leśmian is a good way to find out if your Polish is native enough. If you don’t find anything extraordinary in the guy’s work, you still have much to learn. (It goes for several millions Poles, too, I know. So?)


SCULPTURE: Read here: “This artist / sculptor created and wrote more by age 30 than DaVinci did his whole life.”. The opinion comes from Maynard James Keenan (of Tool, one of so few things why America should be spared, for a time.) Whom does he mean?

Szukalski, Defense

Stanisław Szukalski, his name flowing a bit more vividly in the memesphere recently. I spotted several sources about the artist this year, and if this post could be another straw that breaks the silence’s neck, may it be!
Some intro in Polish here. Some info in English here. Propagate the meme, people. Sons of Yeti, as he would dub you, don’t you love the guy who made this?


POLITICS: The mere alliteration should catch your attention: “poet, private printer, pamphleteer, pagan and pretender to the Polish throne” — Phrone would be as good. — Or Phorn. Well yes, Potocki de Montalk, a Polish New Zealander, authored “Here Lies John Penis“.

Alexandros Pantazopoulos shot it

As well as “Katyn Manifesto“. We can finally talk about it — and not be arrested by British secret agents. (More can be found in the post “The Count” blogged here.)


FILM: I can’t tag Jan Potocki (yes, another by that name) in any Polish category, for his Saragossa Manuscript was written in French. But the book–based movie was all Polish.

The Weird Sisters

“Luis Bunuel (who seldom viewed movies more than once) liked the film so much he watched it three times” — Which makes 9 hours of watching. (I think I already said that.) — Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese financed the restoration of the movie. (Their efforts are the other of so few things why America should be spared, for a time.) [Wait, wait, maybe I must not put Potocki in any human category? For all we know, “we” including Neil Gaiman here, Potocki was a werewolf. He died like one, at least.]


MUSIC: No way. Music speaks One Language. I mean, if I can easily pick up a Polish folk dance in the main Godzilla theme, for instance, why should one translate music? And into what?


I have more. But your suggestions for additions are welcome.

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