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The term: "camp aesthetic." Popular in Poland yet?


deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #1
I heard about this phenomena a lot recently, but abroad. Do Polish people know what this term mean? Is it visible in art for example?
noreenb 7 | 557
22 Mar 2011 #2
Isn't it similar to kitsch?
I never heard about the term in Poland yet.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #3
Yes, it is similar, but not the same. Kitsch is unconsciously bad art while camp is deliberate bad art. All B class movie, like Klatwa Doliny Wezy or Rocky Horror Picture Show, polish "holy pictures" given by priest can be camp because poses and look of saints - they often have gays appearance. Violetta Villas is camp and Oscar Wilde was too. Camp was used by homosexuals in the West to provoke heterosexuals and as a code communication. All started with Susan Sontag essay "Notes on camp" in 1964. I was wondering, what is the condition of camp in Poland - if any?
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #4
All started with Susan Sontag essay "Notes on camp" in 1964.

Around much longer - she just wrote about it for the US mainstream.

in 1964. I was wondering, what is the condition of camp in Poland - if any?

Thriving among subcultures. Drag is especially popular, and rather more stylised than in the 'west'. The old 1950s Lajkonik murals (camp as a row of tents) in Warsaw are protected by the government, even though the expensive shop who use the premises prefer to keep them hidden.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #5
I meant she was the first one who described it, although the word appeared for the first time in the XVII century and Isherwood also wrote few sentences before her.

Lajkonik in Warsaw? Where?
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #6
Plac Trzech Krzyzy. Where the Escada shop is now.

After reading your post, I reread 'On Camp' - I'd forgotten about it. She gets it just about right - especially the distinction between camp and camping. There is certainly both in Poland. Violetta Villas is the former, Rodowicz the latter.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #7
I also did some research about Lajkonik - it is very sad what has happened. Cafe Lajkonik could be camp as a place, where gathered people from outside or mainstream and because of it subversive attitude, so typical for camp. I did not see the drawings, which were on its walls, so I can't say nothing about their campiness.

Sontag got many things right, but many critics wrote that she got it wrong, that her criteria are too broad, that she cut off camp from its gay's roots, she made it apolitical while it was political etc.

Violetta Villas for sure, although this is camp "in the eye of beholder" as I dont think she wants to be seen as a camp artist. Rodowicz is more kitsch in my mind, as there is not so much exclusiveness in her appearance but rather happy-hippie-folk. Villas is glamour.

What about Basilica in Lichen? I personally think that for such phenomena kitsch is not enough term and I would call it camp. Not only because if its excessiveness, seriousness (which fails), gold, marbles and sentiments about the past, but because - it may sounds heretics - it has some connections with Gaudi's works. Gaudi like Bielecka, its architect, was very religious and they both wanted to do something extraordinary (Bielecka had ambition to build a church, which will make Poland an European leader). They both were using colourful glasses and stones and they both were patriots, whatever does it mean, but is also camp.
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #8
What about Basilica in Lichen?

Now that's interesting! Do you think the Swiatynia Opatrznosci, essentially a modern folly, could be camp.

As for the homosexual thing, Sontag (who wasn't 'out' when she wrote On Camp), does mention the roots of camp; its essential otherness which at the same time integrates and creates a role in society for homosexuals.

I miss Lajkonik. Piotruś is perhaps the nearest thing that is still left, Though sadly one of the most faithful clients, one of the very campest too as well as an extremely good friend, has recently died. He wasn't just 'camping', he was the real thing, absolutely authentic.



OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #9
Do you think the Swiatynia Opatrznosci, essentially a modern folly could be camp.

I think it can be but only when put in a broader context, when you will include all the jokes about the look of lemon squeezer and the scale of the project plus of course the seriousness, but it is typical for Catholic religion that is why it is also called camp (or camp fads).

Regarding Basilica in Lichen - Kobas Laksa did a great joke about it about 3 years ago, changing it into a huge aqua-park.

Could you explain what do you mean by Sontag not being out? That she was in mainstream? She became famous after her essay.

I really regret that I have never been in Lajkonik and did at least few pictures :(
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #10
Sontag not being out?

Not being openly lesbian (or bi) at that stage in her life. It was before she and Annie Leibowitz got together and they became a high profile couple.

I really regret that I have never been in Lajkonik and did at least few pictures :(

I trawled the internet for pictures a while ago and couldn't find any. The murals were huge, obviously done in parts by different artists and covered two large walls and the ceiling. Słonimski used to go - certainly some of his coterie did part of them.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #11
audiovis.nac.gov.pl/obraz/140133/h:550
That is all what I have found.

Regarding Sontag, she had husband and a son, then she got in a relationship with Leibovitz although they were living separately. But you actually pointed out at something interesting. David Bergman wrote in his "definition" of camp, that camp can be seen by person from outside of the mainstream. Was Sontag part of mainstream at that time or not? And I am not focusing only on her sexuality.

I was also wondering, do any of Polish artist (gays or not) use camp deliberately, as a code of communication and to play with a norms, especially moral norms?
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #12
I'd forgotten about that wall - the biggest part was opposite.

Sontag was certainly a rising star, and felt more at home in Paris than the Anglosphere. About Polish artists it's hard to think of anyone who comes to mind - there must be somebody.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #13
Well, there is Osika, who is using a camp code, but as far as I know he did it unconsciously, Piotr Stasiowski pointed it out. Since the Oscar Wilde times it is well known, that it is the critic's job to add some value to the art and sometimes against the artist's will. Radziszewski could be mentioned, but he is not using any code - he is using his homosexuality openly in his art works, he does not hide anything. And except of his works "Jezu, ufam Tobie", which is camp because of playing with religious kitsch and maybe "Pink Scotch", where he did not mean any camp - there is no camp in his works. But except of that half-examples - I really cannot think of anything else.

Regarding Sontag, she was in mainstream therefore simply she could not see camp, according to the Bergman. But most of the critics and artists who were writing about camp were in mainstream, at Universities, publishing books and articles. Even Warhol, who became mainstreamed, wrote about camp.
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #14
Reminds me rather of the late Quentin Crisp who made an artform out of his life. He certainly fitted Sontag;s definition of camp. Although he touched the mainstream, he was never really part of it - he had that detatchment that true camp must have. Do you think there's anything camp about Fredro? He's too early to be an aesthete and far from kitsch but some of the sensibilities are there.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
22 Mar 2011 #15
Do you think there's anything camp about Fredro? He's too early to be an aesthete and far from kitsch but some of the sensibilities are there.

Hard to say, especially that camp is a modern sensibility and we should not match modern criteria to the past. He was an aristocrat and his works describe in a humoristic way its sphere, but is it enough? I don't think he was "freak" enough. I would rather call bombastic Mickiewicz campy and all that romanticism, including Goethe constantly in theatrical pain and Friedrich constantly on commentary.

I had to do research about Quentin Crisp, never heard about him before.
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
22 Mar 2011 #16
Stephen Tennant and Ronald Firbank were good examples of camp, whereas Liberace (incidentally half Polish) was camping - he was a showman and different in reality.

There must have been people in Poland who were like that.
Albanaich 2 | 31
23 Mar 2011 #17
In non-US British - Anzac culture 'Camp' is an expression used to describe obvious (and usually deliberate) homosexual behaviour. It's nothing to do with art.

US usage is VERY different from non-US usage as the Wikipedia article makes clear. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble with this one if you don't understand it means different things on different sides of the pond.

American usage

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_%28style%29

British usage

guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/30/the-end-of-camp-straight-acting-gay
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
23 Mar 2011 #18
It's nothing to do with art.

Read Susan Sontag's Notes on Camp. There's no great difference - the subculture is international. One could also draw a parallel with the Japanese concept of 'iki'.
Albanaich 2 | 31
23 Mar 2011 #19
If someone is blatantly effeminate homosexual - they are 'camp'

What has that got to do with art?
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
23 Mar 2011 #20
If someone is blatantly effeminate homosexual

Not all "blatantly effiminately" homosexuals are camp - seen many camp lesbians lately? and not all "blatantly, effeminately" homosexual men are camp. However the camp in literature, music and art is derived from the immense cultural influence of people who are homosexual.

Why blatant? Check out the definition.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
23 Mar 2011 #21
Oscar Wilde was campy and he loved to provoke until they did not put him to prison. Moe Meyer sees him as a gay martyr.

Yet all examples we have been talking about are not Polish.
Maybe the reason, why gay man does not dress like Felicia or Mitzi from "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" on the street is the Polish homophobic, 90% Catholic society and the Catholic (usually) education and upbringing? But the more homophobic society is, the more gay should provoke it, like it was in the West. Poland should be a perfect place for it.

Robert Rumas, when he was creating his objects connected to kitsch and Catholic religion said that he still feel uncomfortable by doing such works because of his Catholic upbringing. Maybe that is the answer?
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
23 Mar 2011 #22
when he was creating his objects connected to kitsch and Catholic religion said that he still feel uncomfortable by doing such works because of his Catholic upbringing.

What could be more camp but the Catholic Church for gawds sake? sorry,that argument always falls flat with me..

Is camp now a trap for gay people rather than the liberation it once was? Ive had this debate before as an outsider it seems to me that if I was gay about now id be getting sick of the "aceptable face of homosexuality" as seen in the media,which is safely "other",often b!tchy,queenie and overly sexualised.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
23 Mar 2011 #23
Is camp now a trap for gay people rather than the liberation it once was?

There is no need to be campy. You can be homosexual and have nothing to do with camp. Since there is no need for gay people to use camp as a code of communication, camp in this version is dead, at least in the Western World.

I am more interested in the lack of such camp code in Poland.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
24 Mar 2011 #24
If there is "no need" why did my best mate suddenly turn into a lisping queen the minute he came out to me?

He went from average monosylibic former soldier straight to high camp mincing in the bat of a bejewelled eyelash.......he certainly felt a need to show the world and this came out in camp. Thats why I say,is it a trap now. After a day or two I said to him,"look mate is this really who you are ?" when he said "no,not really" i told him to stop being a ****** then and act normally,and by that,be himself,not in a hetro normative way. He felt he had to act in a pretty ridiculas pantomime of femmininity ,the worst, pms ing b!tchy type. To me this isnt much of a sign of progress.

Flip side of that,there was a little boy in the street I grew up in who was as camp as a row of tents from the minute he was a toddler and he has stayed that way all through his life,so for him its obviously a natural expresion of who he is.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
24 Mar 2011 #25
I dont know why your friend "needed to be campy", maybe he had some psychological or personal reason to act like that, to act in specific way to be accepted or to hide something. But - if he was doing that against himself - I doubt you could call it camp, unless he was very good at pretending.

But camp is not only that pose, do you think that camp is trap in general? For art for example?
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
24 Mar 2011 #26
do you think that camp is trap in general? For art for example?

Aha, now we are getting too deep for me TBH, not being "in the club" only being a friend of friends of Dot' I cant rightly say specifically. But generally,I find ALL labels as being a trap for true Art.

As soon as something is defined something is lost.
OP deadshoes 1 | 11
24 Mar 2011 #27
But generally,I find ALL labels as being a trap for true Art.
As soon as something is defined something is lost.

It depends what you mean by "true art".

I like this anarchist point of view, I also prefer "pure" perception, but unfortunately it is not always possible, as we have been broken by education and books. The real challenge, I think, is to be able to see something without labels while knowing it has labels.


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