Tomasz Szerszeń


Mickiewicz – Tiresias, 2014, photography.

Adam Mickiewicz, the greatest writer of the Polish romanticist period, a bard immortalised in monuments and a patron of school celebrations, was also a wandering emigrant, a political activist, a revolutionary, a Messianist, and a cosmopolitan with a complex identity and occasionally subversive views. In his A History of the Future, an unfinished work which he ultimately destroyed, he spun a utopian yarn; the text was philosophical “pre-science-fiction”, as well as a geopolitical diagnosis. Mickiewicz may therefore be regarded as an archetypal seer figure, a prophet of nascent modernity interpreting signs of the future, “reading tea-leaves and the stars”. The gift of prophecy, studying signs and divining the future is a great privilege, as well as an immense burden. It can also be a curse, as was the case with the mythical Greek soothsayer Tiresias, who was blinded for his abilities. Tomasz Szerszeń’s work makes reference to the ambiguous figure of the blind soothsayer. What do the prophet’s empty eye-sockets behold today? At the same time, the bard’s face has been reduced to a graphic outline – a shell, in which anyone may find their own meaning and see something different. It might even be Lord Vader, the pop-culture stereotype of a totalitarian leader who dreams of ruling the universe.

Tomasz Szerszeń (b. 1981, Warsaw) – visual artist, photographer, anthropologist. Graduated in Photography at the PWSFTViT in Lodz and Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies at the Warsaw University. Ph.D. of the social sciences.