“…you ate three hundred devils” – Katarzyna Depta-Garapich, Malgorzata Mirga-Tas

photo- in the forest



a branch of the Tatra Museum in Zakopane

Zakopane, ul. Jagiellonska 18b

… you ate three hundred devils exhibition

April 8 – June 19, 2022

The title of the exhibition refers to the story from the book by Stanislaw Witkiewicz “On the Mountain Pass. Impressions and Images from the Tatra Mountains” published in 1891.  The story follows a group of poachers telling tales about bear hunting and about the lucky one who escaped. The animal ate the bait and – by outwitting the hunters, gained respect reflected in saying that “you ate three hundred devils”. In the Podhale region people often referred to the bear through an anthropomorphic pronoun “he”. Through that animistic and magical transformation, the bear, largest predator in this area gained both human-like and devilish properties. “He” was a non-human person perceived as both belonging to nature and demon worlds.

Katarzyna Depta-Garapich and Małgorzata Mirga-Tas’ exhibition interrogates the theme of the bear, offering us various interpretations. The large format textiles by Mirga-Tas analyse the notion of human and animal relationships through the prism of their place in life and the culture of local Romani communities. Here, bears represent nature that is both contained but not entirely subjected to civilised processes; through their colourful depictions, they are more akin to fairy tale non-human persons rather than trained animals subject to human will.
Katarzyna Depta-Garapich uses the bear as a metaphor of transitional states between childhood and adulthood, at the same time dealing with the notion of loss. The black and white family photographs from the 70s, along with drawn in bears, form a multi-directional and complex narrative playing on the theme of the main protagonist turning into a bear.
Small objects made by both artists embody notions of magic, talisman making and transfomatios. The exhibition at Władysław Hasior Gallery displays also video works documenting artists’ performance undertaken in 2021, entitled “Miś”.

The exhibition “…you ate three hundred devils” is the product of a partnership between two artists that began in 2019. Depta-Garapich and Mirga-Tas situate their project within contemporary problems of Zakopane, a town often resembling a funfair due to ever increasing tourism. At the same time, along with the extinction of this species, the bear became infantilized which is symbolised by the popularity of the ‘white bear’ mascot that entertains tourists in Zakopane. The place of the white bear in popular culture is therefore a case of role reversal where wilderness is tamed, and humanity made infantile. By focusing on the bear, both artists want to direct our attention to the impact of humans on the natural environment, the use of animals in tourism promotion and its negative impact on nature.

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