Text and its Performance

“− I would like to know which article you decided to delete.

− I chose article 5 of the civil code, it deletion has catastrophic consequences.

− We’d no longer live in a democracy.

− Where would we be?

− In a country where all power rests in one hand.


− How would you replace this article?

− This depends on what country you would like to live in.”*

“I would remove from the civil code the phrase »French people«.” This is the reply provided by another person requested by Carlos Amorales to make a change into the text of the Napoleonic code which is still in power in France. The artist made copies of the act that is the foundation of the legal system not with the use of printing paint, but with the pencil graphite. The film shows how the civil code (of all French people) changes its face. Not the will of the policymakers, but that of the artist transforms it into a different story.

The legal text is never stuck motionless. In the moment of novelisation, it undergoes a stage of change, disintegration. Next, it is put together again so that a unified meaning can be established. Finally, it is deconstructed again, when it is being interpreted and executed. Texts are executed on multiple occasions and ways. Taken over by a number of voices, the sound of texts is modified.

The exhibition “The text and its Performance,” exposes the narrativity of this change. It is inherent in the multiplicity of readings, in the process of writing the law and justifying interpretive decisions that entail various beliefs and motives. The exhibition seeks to present law in motion, to read it in a different way – certainly different from what the convention would suggest. The broadened re-reading of texts and posing open questions, such as “what kind of notion is citizen/author,” are important each time the position emerges: the position of understanding oneself, one’s rights, as well as agency. The exhibition is not written from a comprehensive perspective that solves ad hoc the problems of formulation and execution of law. The works on display, as well as the workshop space that is a part of the exhibition, are supposed to reveal the potential of a “different cognitive sensibility” whose source lies in the emphatic reading of the law and in the exercise of reading across established structures.

The exhibition develops in time, coming with an integral programme of related events.

* Statement from Carlos Amorales, “Supprimer, Modifier et Preserver,” 2012.

The project is supported by: the Austrian Culture Forum in Warsaw / das Österreichische Kulturforum, and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of the project “Critical Pavilion. Contemporary exhibition practice and theory”

Media patrons of the exhibition: “Herito,” “Lounge,” “Opcje 1:1,” “Szum”

Exhibition partners: The Polish Bar Council, Wolters Kluwer Publishing, Kurz Foundation, the Department of Anthropology of Literature and Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Polish Studies, the Jagiellonian University

Media patrons of the Gallery: “Fragile. Pismo kulturalne,” “Le Monde diplomatique,” Local Life, Off Radio Kraków, O.pl, Radio Kraków

photos: Studio FILMLOVE and Justyna Gryglewicz