In the studio of Krzysztof Gil

We were in Krzysztof Gil’s studio just before the opening of the exhibition They call me Gypsy, though that’s not my name / The more you trim the bigger it becomes.


The Gdańsk group exhibition took place in two locations – it was divided into a part where we could see the works of many artists and a part with Gil’s individual exhibition, forming a sub-narrative. During our visit we learned what the process of documenting the subject matter of the works looks like: searching and analysis; critical reading of historical, ethnographic, cultural, pop-cultural knowledge constructs, to which Gil then refers in his works.


Who doesn’t know the melody that obtrusively plays in your heads – it is the Caje Sukarije song interpreted in 1999 by the duo Kayah & Bregovič: “They call me Gypsy although that’s not my name / Because who cares when the name doesn’t match”. In the first words of the text about the exhibition They Call Me Gypsy… The curator Ania Batko points out that it is not an exhibition about the Roma, their history or culture, but about the construct of a “gypsy” – ‘a made-up character who never existed’. The gypsy is here a symbol of appropriation, cultural colonialism, stories and imagination spun on the border between what is Polish and what is Roma.


The gallery space adapted by Gil looks like a cross between a circus fairy’s tent and a noble study of curiosities of an amateur collector from the 19th century. In both cases, the constructed image of the Roma gypsy is as true as it is completely false. The pointing out of the colonial “difference” by the “pariah” may be a mockery of the way in which the colonised are seen; how their representation is created; an element of the minority’s game with the majority, which simultaneously carries their image and uses it in its own interest.


They call me Gypsy, though that’s not my name
Curator: Ania Batko


Technical cooperation: Krzysztof Gil


Gdańsk City Gallery 1, 2 (Piwna 27/29, Powroźnicza 13/15)

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