Photos: T. Wajsprych

Sculpture: Jan Borowczak

A public crochet intervention with the people of Ratibórz and the OpenSpace Performunion, Ratibórz Festival of the Arts, Ratibórz, Poland, 2007

In the national iconography of Poland, Matka Polka, or the Polish Mother, incorporates suffering and a model of femininity, in contrast to the rival model of the soldier-insurgent. The figure of Matka Polka is often conflated with that of Polonia, a common portrayal of Poland as a woman in the visual arts since the 16th century.

The fact that three artists with German names, 2 of them American, came to Upper Silesia, Poland, which looks back on a long history of tensions between Germans and Poles, and interfered with the revered symbol of Matka Polka apparently angered some residents.

Photos of Matka Polka being dressed in color and joy ended up on the front page of a local newspaper after vandals set fire to the ‚dress‘ within 48 hours of its being installed, damaging the sculpture in the process.